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For the New York Crowd

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 15:20
Needing a break from the water after coming up empty-handed in his pursuit of summer flounder, The Star’s fishing columnist watched the play at the P.G.A. Championship in Bethpage, where he spotted the golfer John Daly and his memorable pants.

Striped bass have been running plentiful of late in the Peconics. A nice slug of fish, feasting on an abundance of menhaden, also known as bunker, has made catching a keeper-size fish a rather easy accomplishment. Unless you are fishing at slack tide, the action has been intense in many locations.

In particular, if you don’t object to trolling wire line adorned with a three-ounce green bucktail jig, it usually does not take more than a few minutes to reel in a fish. While some stripers up to 40 pounds have been landed at night, most of the fish caught on hook and line have fallen in the 10-to-20-pound range during the daylight hours. A nice fish by any standard.

For what it’s worth, the smaller the bass, the better they are to eat (note that anglers are allowed to retain one fish over 28 inches per day). In addition, most of those larger bass are females laden with eggs. They carry the future class of bass that we will enjoy catching a few years down the road. Consider releasing any large fish you land.

My last trip for stripers was early last Wednesday morning. Untying the lines of my boat at about 5:30, I was back at the dock an hour later with a brace of chunky 15-pound fish that I and my companion had landed. Two passes in our favorite rip line is all it took. No doubt, the fish are in thick. 

I wish I could say that my luck for fluke has been as good. After several outings, I’m still seeking my first keeper of the year (summer flounder need to be at least 19 inches to be kept). While I have caught a fair number of short fish, the larger specimens have just not found my offerings to their liking. As such, I decided I needed to change things up.

It was with this in mind that I decided to take a break from the water and venture UpIsland to take in some golf. The P.G.A. Championship was being played at the famed Bethpage Black course, a layout that I’ve been fortunate to play (very poorly) several times. With only one hole that has water on it, I also knew I was not going to be tempted to wet a line. In my mind, getting away from the frustration of not catching a fluke was as good a remedy as any doctor could prescribe.

Media credentials in hand, I sauntered over to the driving range last Thursday to catch a glimpse of the pros smacking the ball. As usual, Tiger Woods took most of the attention away from the other golfers warming up, but I could not keep my eyes off one particular player at the extreme far right of the range. He stuck out like a sore thumb.

Dressed in the most godawful slacks known to fashion, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the word “Trump,” and chain-smoking cigarettes while hitting ball after ball, was John Daly, a former winner of the P.G.A. and the British Open. Never a model of perfect fitness ready to grace a box of Wheaties, the unconventional 53-year-old is afflicted with bad arthritis in his right knee. As such, he caught a bit of flack in this tournament for gaining approval to use a golf cart to maneuver around the hilly, 7,500-yard course. On a side note, I also knew that Daly liked to fish in his spare time.

After a few final swings, Daly picked his super-size Diet Coke from McDonald’s off the ground and headed in my direction. 

“Nice pants,” I said to him, figuring it was impossible to ignore their colorful, random references to the New York Yankees. “Thanks man, I figure it would play well with the New York crowd here,” he said while puffing away on a newly lit cigarette. 

While I have my share of rather loud clothing, I don’t think I have the guts to pull off what Daly wore on the range. It was a fashion violation of the highest magnitude. Yet, while taking in the vast crowds that came to Bethpage, I did witness my fair share of equally boisterous outfits that Daly, and the cast of “Caddyshack” would have been proud of. 

It also gave me pause that such attire has yet to enter the world of fishing. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before such outlandish colors and patterns make their way to a variety of garments on the high seas. 

How about a Gorton’s of Gloucester-theme rain jacket? Multiple images of the iconic, bearded fisherman who hawks frozen fish sticks could look good on such outerwear. Or perhaps bright pink fishing boots designed by Lady Gaga for the fashion-conscious female angler? What about a Jackson Pollock-inspired surf plug bag? The sky, or shall I say the sea, is limitless. 

Alas, until the fashion revolution strikes the fishing apparel industry, I will have to stick to my monotone orange bibs and dull green rain jacket. Not exactly runway material. Perhaps I can have John Daly address these concerns for me after he’s done with his cigarette.   

Leaving the fashion scene, the fluke action has been a bit more productive for other folks. 

“Fluking has been pretty good, but it’s been a weird bite,” explained Kathy Vegessi of the Lazy Bones in Montauk. “We’ll get a few solid drifts with lots of fish and then it shuts off.” Chris Gray took advantage of a few good drifts on Sunday morning to land three fish weighing in at seven, six, and five pounds. A nice hat trick there.

“Fluke fishing has been very good,” remarked Capt. Mark Ryckman of the full-day party boat Montauk Star. “The pool winner was an eight pounder 

on Saturday and six others got their limit. Sunday was a bit slower.” Anglers can retain four of the summer flatties per day.

“Striped bass have been hot at White Sands of late,” said Harvey Bennett of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett. “The big porgies have showed up in Cherry Harbor and fluke are off of Napeague.” The veteran proprietor also said that the squid have reappeared in Fort Pond Bay and that weakfish have come on strong, with Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett being a particular hot spot.

“Old-timers say that when the lilacs are in bloom, the weakfish have arrived,” he observed on Sunday, before driving westward to see his beloved Yankees take the field in the Bronx. 

No word if Bennett borrowed Daly’s Yankees pants.

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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