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An Embarrassment of Riches

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 17:41
Chefs go fishing: Colin Ambrose of East Hampton, right, owner of Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor, and Kerry Heffernan, chef of Grand Banks in Manhattan, caught their share of jumbo-size porgies at Jessup’s Neck on Saturday morning.

What to do? With the arrival of the month of May, for anglers of either the salt or freshwater ilk, it can be difficult to decide what to fish for on any particular day. The main conundrum is that with the daily influx of a variety species, selecting terminal tackle, bait, or lures for any outing, whether it be on the bay, pond, or ocean, is a complicated matter.

What to fish for? At this time of spring, it could be just about anything. Spin the fishing wheel of chance and you are likely to be a winner no matter where it stops. Right now, the waters contain a multitude of options, including fluke, porgy, striped bass, bluefish, walleye, trout, smallmouth bass, weakfish, cod, ling, blowfish, sea robin, winter flounder or mackerel, to name just a few. It’s a tough choice on what to pick, but it’s a real nice problem to confront.

As such, my tackle box (actually I have several of them, too many to provide an accurate count) seems to overflow with a multitude of rigs, hooks, leaders, sinkers, baits, and lures. I have a hard time keeping track of all my stuff. And it feels like I always bring too much tackle and equipment when I’m on the water, no matter the quarry I’m in search of. In my mind, it is always better to have more than less. 

I try to separate my gear by species, but there is always overlap. If an excursion for porgy is slow, it would be a good idea to take along a few fluke rigs and some fresh squid for bait to possibly capture some summer flounder.

But what if a school of striped bass or bluefish shows up? Well, it is predictably prudent to make sure to have an assortment of bucktails, rubber baits, and diamond jigs. Should I take my wire-line trolling rod if I want to land a larger-size striped bass? I may as well. Is a spinning rod at the ready for weakfish? I should probably have one aboard. It’s a good idea to have another game plan. However, it comes at a price.

Before I’m cognizant of the reality of facts or superstition, my boat is loaded stem to stern with gear. It is literally a full-fledged, floating tackle shop. I may as well hang a neon sign that says “open for business” affixed to the side of my cabin. If I were a smart entrepreneur, which I’m not, I would be wise to install a credit card machine aboard for those wanting to make an on-water transaction from yours truly. Cash is fine, but note that checks are not accepted (unless I know you well).

Despite my assortment of fishing related equipment, I still cannot resist a visit to one of the local tackle shops to check out, and likely buy, the latest gizmo or gadget. At times, I wonder if these lures are more geared to hooking potential customers than actually catching a fish. Anglers, like young children, tend to be attracted by fancy, bright, and shiny objects. I, for one, admit I’m guilty of such purchases. Hook, line, and sinker.

Over all, I take satisfaction in knowing that I’m not the only one with a tackle fixation. Like being in a secretive club, we acknowledge each other when paying for our wares at the tackle shop counter, then bid each other adieu with a quick smile and a few words of good luck as we exit the store. We share the same anxieties, enthusiasm, and language of our passion. 

In life, I can think of a multitude of afflictions and habits much worse than what I’ve dealt with for several decades. And until medical research finds a cure, I’m okay living with my current plight.

Speaking of an individual totally overtaken by tackle, Ken Morse of Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor was feeling the blues in his shop on Monday . . . bluefish that is. “The big bluefish have shown up in Sag Harbor and other nearby areas,” beamed Morse from the inside of his cramped shop, bulging at the seams with just about every kind of fishing lure or tackle you could ever need. “Porgy fishing remains strong at Jessup’s Neck and more keeper striped bass are showing up every day. Fluking has been okay, and a decent amount of weakfish have been taken in Noyac Bay as well.”

“The east wind has turned on the fishing big time,” said Harvey Bennett of the blunt, yet aptly named Tackle Shop in Amagansett. “The porgies are really big in Fort Pond Bay, and there is a ton of bass in all the inlets, creeks, and bays. Bluefish are around along with a few weakfish. There also was some good fluking around Accabonac on Saturday before the weather turned.” 

Bennett was enthused about the large-size carp being landed in Hook Pond in East Hampton and Fort Pond in Montauk. “The fishing has been unreal for them,” he quipped. “Basically, any pond has produced and some monsters have been taken.” Not exactly the finest of table fare, carp pound-for-pound put up a wonderful fight on light tackle.

An avid New York Yankees fan, Bennett was enthused that he has tickets to see his hometown team on Sunday afternoon in the Bronx. “I’m really looking forward to it,” he said while wearing his weathered New York Rangers sweatshirt. “I literally watch every inning of every game they play. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a game too.”

As a reminder, Bennett remains on the hunt for used baseball equipment, as well as clothing, shoes, and school supplies. As in the past, all items collected will be sent to underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic. 

Even my 93-year-old mother last week provided me with two boxes of school supplies to give to the good-willed Bonacker.

“The weather hasn’t been our friend, but the fishing is good when conditions allow,” relayed Sebastian Gorgone of Mrs. Sam’s Bait and Tackle in East Hampton. “Fluke showed up just outside Three Mile Harbor and striped bass fishing is on the upswing. Plus, porgy fishing remains solid to the west in the Peconics.” Gorgone expects the porgy bite in Cherry Harbor to come alive shortly as the winds abate. 

Due to those persistent gusty winds, few boats out of Montauk have had a chance to seek out codfish and other denizens of the deep. However, the Viking Starship found a weather window and untied its lines for a two-day, deep-water excursion on Friday. After a slow start, anglers zoned in on a solid catch consisting of tilefish and a few barrelfish. 

The following day saw some decent codfish action on several wrecks. “All in all, it was a great trip,” reported Capt. Steven Forsberg Jr. The pool was taken by Zheng Shihui of Brooklyn with a 45-pound tilefish. 

Needless to say, I’m quite confident he took along a large amount of tackle for his 48-hour offshore adventure.

We welcome your fishing tips, observations, and photographs at [email protected]. You can find the “On the Water” column on Twitter at @ehstarfishing.

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