Mother’s Day Surprises: For Better Or Worse

Two out of three were very very good. But the one that was bad, was very very bad.

Chopper on a popper.

They snuck up on us. Alligators, gorillas and monsters. Big bad bluefish in the back bays.  Typically, in early May, around Mother’s Day, the Fishing Faithful begin picking small stripers in the ocean surf.  And since mid-April, there have been a handful of bountiful days of that sort.  But as soon as the calendar page turned, gangster blues startled us on the beaches of Napeague Bay.

A Monster for VC….

Verizon Charlie caught a tackle-busting 17-pounder.  In two “equipment testing” sessions, I took a pair of 7-pounders on a 3/4-ounce Hopkins thrown with a snapper rig, and–on a top-water plug–a 15-pound plus chopper that measured 32-inches to the split tail.  LeeBob and his five-year old sidekick Ryder put on a clinic for all on the beach to see, landing literally hundreds of fish in a week’s time.  Billy Black, recovering from knee surgery, also contributed a gorilla chopper to my smoker grill. 

It was the kind of fishing this week that would have prompted Amazing Randy to clip on his hookless Yo-Zuri popping lure, just to watch these hungry blues blow up in one showy splash after another, striking in vain behind his methodical retrieve.

…..An Alligator for Billy….

However, another surprise we got this week was tragically sad. Randy died at home of a sudden heart attack on May 5.  It’s nearly impossible to imagine the fishing season ahead without him. 

I met Randy on the beach more than a decade ago.  We shared a background as city kids, Vietnam veterans and east-end surfcasters.  Randy didn’t eat fish but he caught and released them with gusto.  He’d keep a legal striper every now and then to barter with a Montauk neighbor for a bushel of clams or a case of flounder—which he would also give away. 

Despite his elemental chicken, steak and Budweiser style, there was no better fisherman on the east end than Randy, and I learned a lot casting and catching by his side over many seasons. We fished together on the gravelly beaches of Shagwong, through the swift-running tides of Lazy Point, amid the crashing waves of Montauk Point and in the serene waters of Napeague Harbor. One windy October day not long ago, my truck was laid up so I hitched a ride on the tailgate of Randy’s Tacoma. As we bounced along the undulating shoreline near White Sands, chasing a mixed school of bass and blues, with Pavarotti playing loudly on his stereo, Randy shouted back to me above the blaring music, “You doin’ okay back there, Fred?” I was holding on for dear life, and we both had a laugh!

.….A slob for LeeBob and Ryder.

There was another surprise this Mother’s Day weekend. This one pleasant and highly orchestrated.  My brood showed up unannounced at our beach house to spend the weekend with their mother, the BW. Can’t Miss Daniel was on hand to enjoy some afternoon delight fishing.  Diane will take her turn in the surf next—with either an eight-foot rod, a six foot board—or both! It was the first time in more than a year that the BW and I have been together with our son and daughter and their significant others.  It was better than the blues showing up early.  And I really enjoy the blues.

Mother’s Day Mishpucha


There is a particular backwater promontory that the Fishing Faithful refer to as Randy Point.  In Randy’s absence, it will be a bittersweet experience every time we encounter a striper blitz there in the future.


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