A Mid-Summer’s Fish Charter

A tasty return when four Realtors set sail for stripers on a sultry day

Lenny the Sailor, Bobby the Fish Killer, Yours Truly and Sammy Shamu.

Lenny the Sailor, Bobby the Fish Killer, Yours Truly and Sammy Shamu.

JULY 17, 2013:  My good buddy and fellow Realtor–let’s call him Sammy Shamu–says his wife’s latest best dates were with me. True, the elegant Ms. J. and I have tooled around Kings Point waterfront properties in her hot wheels; we’ve had picnic lunches, and recently spent a day touring and tasting in North Fork wine country. But it’s been all business. I assure you. I assure him. Still, Sammy remains skeptical.

So, to demonstrate that I don’t play favorites in his family, I used the occasion of a striped bass fishing trip to give Sammy a literal taste of the good life, Fred style. Another of our esteemed real estate colleagues–Bobby S., the silent but deadly striper hunter–arranged for a four man charter aboard the Sundowner out of Orient Point on a particularly vicious mid-summer morning.

In his Element: Bobby S. is a silent but deadly striper hunter.

Bobby’s had good fortune aboard this vessel. In fact, the captain adorns his cockpit with a photo of Bobby and the 45-pound bass he boated on a past sail aboard the Sundowner. Ordinarily, I eschew boating in favor of surfcasting. But I was in for the camaraderie and the conviction we’d go home with dinner at least.

Unsure whether to appeal to my colleagues’ carnivorous or vegetarian side for breakfast and lunch, I fired straight down the middle, stepping aboard the Sundowner at 7am with eggplant caponata sandwiches on seeded mini semolina rolls, along with grilled breaded chicken cutlet panini on beds of baby spinach flecked with tangly feta cheese. There was a cooler filled with Hofbrau House lagers, but the dozens of Poland Spring water bottles won the 90 degree day.

Shortly past 8am we began drifting live eels over a 26-foot deep ledge in The Race, a stretch of fecund water off Little Gull’s Island where Long Island Sound meets Block Island Sound. We lucked into a gentle breeze that gave some relief from the searing sun and mercifully kept the black flies off our legs–except for those of Lenny P. the Sailor.

Lenny the Sailor:  He took first fish and most fish for the day.

Lenny the Sailor: He took first fish and most fish for the day.

Couldn’t feel too bad for Lenny, however. He took two-thirds of the day’s pool by nailing the first fish–a fat 33-inch striper–and the most fish–later he added a gorilla bluefish and a frisky sand shark. Bobby, our fearless leader, had two keeper bass, but threw one back in hopes of a trophy that never came. This was my first time fishing with Bob who had not been indoctrinated in Fred’s fishing rules. Note to Bob: Never throw back a keeper. It’s in all the literature.

There are NO small fish in my hands, ever.

There are NO small fish in my hands, not ever.

My production was nothing to write home about. I landed a short bass and hooked a monster bluefish that bit off before we got it to the boat.

But back to the star of our show: Sammy Shamu.  About an hour into our drift session, Sammy boated a broad-shouldered linesider. In the interest of full disclosure, the very capable mate–”filet-and-release” Zack–estimated Sam’s fish at 34 inches, 12 pounds.My highly trained eye told me Zack was underselling: 36-inches, 15 pounds for sure. And, I am certain by the time you read this–though this fish has long since been sliced, grilled, eaten and digested–it is sure to be even larger.  Reread this story tomorrow and you can add two more inches and two more pounds.  Such is the nature of stripers–and fish-tale tellers.

Shamu Sammy: He scored with the fish of the day.

Sammy Shamu: He scored with the fish of the day.

With a cooler full of fish, Sammy and I hustled off to Amagansett on the South Fork for a lightning round of organic farm-stand shopping, a swim at the ocean beach and dinner at Big Brother Frank’s house. Hoping to introduce Sammy to the joys of fresh caught bluefish, I went with a mixed grill of bass and blues, dressed with a summery fresh tomato and basil salsa.  It all disappeared in record time, consumed along side fire-roasted baby zucchini, a summery escarole salad by SIL St. Toni of the Blitz, and washed down with a blush California rosê.

Dinner: 40 pounds of bass and blues

Dinner: 40 pounds of bass and blues

Do we think that Sammy had a good time?  I’m guessing yes because the following evening Sammy and his wife asked for the recipe to prepare the rest of his catch precisely the same way. For the record, here it is:

 Mixed Grill of Striped Bass and Bluefish with Fresh Tomato & Basil Salsa

  • Bluefish and striped bass filets, cleaned;
  • Ripe tomatoes, red onion, fresh basil, garlic;
  • Extra virgin olive oil;
  • Fresh lemon juice and/or zest;
  • Salt and pepper.

PREPARATION

  • Lightly salt and oil the fish filets;
  • Finely dice then mix the tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, lemon salt and pepper with the olive oil to form a syrupy dressing; Set aside;
  • On a clean, hot and oiled grill, cook the fish a few minute on each side, depending upon thickness; The bluefish will likely cook more quickly–2 minutes per side. The thicker bass filets will require about 6 minutes per side or more. When the filets are opaque, or springy to a finger poke, they are done.
  • Spoon the dressing on the cooked filets and serve.Mixed grill of blue and bass with a summery salsa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Responses to “A Mid-Summer’s Fish Charter”

  1. Kathy says:

    Dear Fred,
    What a strong first edition of this year’s Fishtales. Absolutely love the pictures and the recipe. Made me hungry just looking at it. Even enjoyed the breakfast/lunch menu.
    I had to look up the word “eschew”. (I am always impressed with your extensive use of vocabulary) You ordinarily eschew boating in favor of surfcasting???? When I looked it up, it said “abstain, shun and avoid”.. My dictionary must be wrong. You really meant “criticize, ridicule or even denigrate viciously. Right?
    Keep the tales coming. Love reading them. Congratulations Sammy Shamu.

  2. Felix says:

    Breddie-I’m glad Kathy called u out on the $10 words. If u want more of us to read your Fish Tales $5 words would be better! Well done even though you sinned by going out on a boat-sacrilegious! Keep ’em coming.

  3. How did I miss this?

    Apologies, FA. The fish tale is fine.

    And who can argue with caponata for breakfast!

  4. Fred Abatemarco says:

    @Kathy: I will endeavor to utilize “denigrate viciously” a copious amount in future.

  5. Fred Abatemarco says:

    @Fanti–Kathy should be a role model to all my unappreciative high school friends, of which you potentially lead the league. Be careful what you post here, or you may find yourself without brocolli rabe this coming fall fishing weekend

  6. Fred Abatemarco says:

    @Mister Meatball: No apology necessary. We’re just getting ramped up for the season. Would that I had a peck or two of those home grown tomatoes of yours to accompany the fresh grilled bluefish I am anticipating this September.

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