When You Can’t Fish, Watch

Destination TV for armchair fishermen
Jon Macca found himself in a striper blitz off Montauk on Saturday. Capt. Merritt White

When fishermen can’t do it, they love to watch. 

“Wicked Tuna,” a National Geographic Channel reality program that follows the exploits of several New England commercial tuna fishermen, has been destination TV for armchair fishermen since 2012, attracting more than a million viewers weekly. The outdoor television programming genre was pioneered by Roscoe Vernon Gaddis, also known as Gadabout Gaddis, who hosted a 15-minute fishing show way back in 1939, when TV was in its infancy, and who later, in the 1960s, starred in Liberty Mutual’s “The Flying Fisherman,” which ran for more than a decade.

About five years ago, evil ESPN executives landed a sucker punch to the cable box of fishing voyeurs by discontinuing the network’s slate of early-morning weekend saltwater fishing shows. Rather than eating breakfast to Flip Pallot, Jose Wejebe, or George Poveromo catching big fish up and down the East Coast in their slick new boats, La-Z-Boy anglers were left to watch lousy youtube.com fishing videos on iPads. 

Thankfully, Jamie Howard at HowardFilms decided back in 2011 that it was a good idea to spend some five years of his life chronicling the 1,000-mile striped bass migration from the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland to the coastal waters of Maine. The result is “Running the Coast,” a visually spectacular three-part video miniseries that can be purchased at howardfilms.com. The film, which is divided into spring, summer, and fall sections, celebrates the striped bass and the fishermen who pursue and revere it. Interviews with well-known anglers, including Lefty Kreh, Bob Popovic, Paul Dixon, Greg Myerson, Bill Wentzel, Jack Yee, and Alberto Knie, as well as with striped bass fishing enthusiasts from all walks of life, highlight the special nature of striped bass fishermen and the fragility of the striped bass fishery. 

“Running the Coast” will entertain, inspire, and educate any angler who has ever tilted a fly, spinning, or surf rod at a striped bass. 

The fall section of the program, not surprisingly, focuses on Montauk Point. The segments featuring the jovial Greg Myerson, who caught the current world record 81.8-pound striped bass in 2011 and has landed a ridiculous number of bass in the 50-to-70-pound range, and the cigar-chomping Capt. Frank Crescitelli, are worth the $29.95 purchase price alone. Myerson’s theory on which tide is best for catching giant striped bass and his unique live-bait technique are fascinating. While the film doesn’t aim to provide instruction, there are many opportunities for anglers of all skill levels and experience to pick up nuggets along the way.

One of the subtle themes of the film is that recreational fishermen are themselves ultimately responsible for the vitality of the striped bass fishery. One charter captain wonders whether it’s wise for fishermen to pluck countless large cow bass from the water as trophies rather than return them to the sea to breed and sustain the fishery. 

With 60-degree weather and striped bass blitzes off Montauk Point, it’s hard to believe that soon striped bass will leave our shores for warmer southern waters to complete the cycle that began last spring. The striped bass will leave behind anglers who want just one more tug at the end of their line before they are left to clean their rods and reels in concession to the approaching dark days of winter, when thoughts turn from fishing memories to fishing hopes. That is the perfect time to grab some popcorn, settle into the couch, and watch “Running the Coast” with giddy anticipation of that first April cast.

Falling water temperatures to the north are pushing fish our way, with blitzing striped bass around Montauk Point. Capt. Merritt White, a light-tackle guide, said that a fly-fishing client feasted on large schools of 25 to 27-inch fish last weekend. Surfcasters are also finding action, with Sam Doughty and Steven Trunzo both landing 25-pound stripers, according to Harvey Bennett at the Tackle Shop in Amagansett. 

However, T.J. at Gone Fishing Marina in Montauk reported that blitzes have been periodic more than sustained. In contrast, sea bass and porgy bites continue to rock around Block Island, and, while the blackfish have been productive locally, many fishermen are heading to Fishers Island, T.J. added. 

Paul Apostolides at Paulie’s Bait and Tackle said that stripers can be found along sand beaches throughout the day though dawn and dusk are best. Gillnetters working off the beach have demonstrated that fish are present even when there are no obvious signs of them, Apostolides said.

Sebastian Gorgone at Mrs. Sam’s Bait and Tackle in East Hampton reported that squid can be found around docks throughout Three Mile Harbor. Why not grab a squid jig and catch an appetizer?

Ken Morse at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor reported ocean beach blitzes off Bridgehampton beaches late last week, but action has slowed or at least reports of action have slowed as fishermen have been discouraged by difficult weather.

 


The Star’s fishing columnist can be followed on Twitter, @ehstarfishing. Photos of prize catches can be emailed to David Kuperschmid at fishreport@ ehstar.com.