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On the Water: A Harbor Farewell

Thu, 10/12/2023 - 10:00
Just before the season closed, Gregory Avetisov caught this 14.2-pound fluke that was netted by Sharon Quaresimo aboard the Miss Montauk II.
Capt. Jamie Quaresimo

Saturday was another challenging day from a weather standpoint. A rather stiff southeast breeze made it unfishable for many. At least the rain held off until evening.

And Sunday, which thankfully dawned bright and sunny, was unfortunately a blowout. Winds gusted above 25 knots out of the northwest, courtesy of Tropical Storm Philippe offshore to the east.

By Monday morning, there was a very noticeable chill in the early morning air, as the “real feel” temperature hovered around 40 degrees. Time to find my wool overcoat. Over all, it was another lost weekend for many looking to wet a line.

As Yogi Berra, the Hall of Fame baseball player and king of malapropisms once said: “it’s like deja vu all over again.” True that, Yogi.

Most who work or fish on the water would agree that the weather this year on the weekends has been nothing short of awful. This upcoming weekend looks like it will be wet again. We need a break.

On Saturday morning, I entered Tight Lines Tackle on Bay Street in Sag Harbor for the last time. Its owner, Ken Morse, has been there for 23 years, but sought out new digs when his previous landlord announced a massive increase in rent. He is relocating to 260 Hampton Road in Southampton, which is very close to both Southampton Town Hall and Stony Brook Southampton Hospital.

When I walked inside, Morse was busy packing up the plethora of all things fishing in his shop. The movers were expected to arrive on Tuesday, and he hopes to open his new store only a day or two later.

“As soon as I can plug in my cash and credit card machine, my door will be open,” he said. “I don’t want to lose a day of business.” I don’t blame him.

For myself, it was sad to walk in that morning to pick up my bushel of green crabs for the upcoming blackfish season. I will miss having his store only two miles away from me. On a side note, the blackfish season in Long Island Sound opened yesterday, while it commences on Sunday in the rest of New York waters.

The closing of Tight Lines is most unfortunate. Small mom-and-pop, one-man businesses like Morse’s establishment continue to be squeezed out due to high rents. It’s a troublesome trend that has become too frequent here.

I wanted to take a final photo of the store that morning, but I could not do it. Seeing that much of the store was devoid of its goods and wares, it did not represent the better times and fine memories I experienced there for so many years.

In my 30 minutes there, several people came in to thank Morse for all he did for them, as well as to wish him success in his new location. It was nice to see such support and appreciation. Morse will be missed in Sag Harbor.

On the local fishing scene, Morse was enthusiastic on many fronts. “There are stripers in the South Ferry area and there are still lots of blowfish and kingfish around too,” he said.  “False albacore have returned a bit out at Montauk, and there is also some great bass fishing out there too. Bluefish are also mixed in. The fall run is on.”

Morse added that the fishing for bluefin and yellowfin tuna south and east of Montauk before the weekend blow was excellent. “Butterfish, live squid, and jigs have all been effective. When the weather is great, some days see almost 100 boats out there.”

Over at Mrs. Sam’s Bait and Tackle in East Hampton, Sebastian Gorgone reported that the “bays and harbors are still happening.” Gorgone said that a number of intrepid anglers over the weekend were rewarded with nice catches of porgies. “The weather was not great, but the porgies were very large, which was nice to see, as they begin their fall migration.”

He was also enthused about the excellent fishing for striped bass in both Three Mile and Accabonac Harbors. “The fish are close to shore feeding on baitfish. I expect the action on the ocean surf to pick up soon too.”

As previously mentioned, blackfish season is on our doorstep. And it looks like a great season lies ahead.

“It’s the best quality I’ve seen this early,” observed Capt. Tyler Quaresimo of the charter boat Simple Life, which sets sail from the Montauk Marine Basin. “I’ve already had a few between six and 7.5 pounds.” The young skipper holds a commercial fishing license that permits him to capture blackfish before the season opens to the public in Montauk waters on Sunday.

“Yeah, people are chomping at the bit to go for blackfish,” added Gorgone. “I sold a lot of green crabs this weekend. Many can’t wait.”

Myself included.


Fishing tips, observations, and photographs can be sent to [email protected].


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