The Mast-Head: Weighing In On Porgies

Porgies, another friend said the other day, are the misunderstood fish

We called Eric Firestone the porgy whisperer when he got back on dry land. And with good reason. Last year, he landed the biggest porgy ever taken on my boat. This year, he brought aboard the largest porgy I had ever seen anywhere.

Porgies, another friend said the other day, are the misunderstood fish. People who are used to boneless fillets don’t know what to do with one in the round. And that name, porgy, somehow just does not make one think of fine dining. Oh, but some have tried; one restaurant tried marketing them as Montauk sea bream. 

We are not deterred. A little knife work produces pieces suitable for breading and frying. Scaled and gutted, they are spectacular cooked over a good wood-coal fire. There are other preparations underway in my secret test kitchen as well, but they are not ready for sharing, or maybe the world is not ready. Eric and I are ready, however, and are devotees.

Saturday morning was wonderfully still as we left the dock at Three Mile Harbor. At what seemed to me a late hour — 8 a.m. — there were scarcely any other boats on the water. Frankly, there very rarely are. Such is the paradox of boat ownership: Most stay tied up most of the time. For what owning a boat costs, even a small outboard one like mine, it seems imperative to get out as often as possible, ideally twice a week, either fishing or just cruising around with family or friends.

As far as Eric (Fishhooks) Firestone, the Porgy Whisperer, is concerned though, it’s all about dropping a line. Out far in the bay, we set up a drift along a 17-foot contour line, according to the depth finder. The bite on our clam and squid offerings was active enough that I set to jabbering, as I tend to do with porgy on the line. (Oddly enough, this is the only fish that inspires such vocalized reveries. Get a bluefish or bass on the line, and I only grunt, if I say anything at all.)

Eric’s monster came toward the end of the morning. When he pulled it up, he said it felt heavy — big, even. After we got back and went our ways, Eric did a little research online. The record for porgy was 4 pounds, 6 ounces, he texted me from work. 

Some hours later, I put a battery in my fish scale. Eric’s beast weighed in at 2 pounds, 11 ounces, and tasted mighty fine that evening for dinner.