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On the Water: Breakdowns Aplenty

Wed, 05/29/2024 - 18:49
Alisa Olivera, 6, was all smiles with her first-ever striped bass, caught off Montauk aboard Chancey Charters with Capt. Hugh Chancey.
Estella Olivera

It’s hard to believe that Memorial Day has come and gone. In the blink of an eye, the July 4th holiday celebrations and fireworks will soon be here. And then? Well, I won’t even mention Labor Day, even though I just did. Time flies.

As such, in between breaks the other day while playing a game at the East Hampton Indoor Tennis complex opposite the airport, an opponent casually asked me how old I was. For a few seconds, I was flummoxed. Was I 61 or 62? I finally settled on 62, and my driver’s license officially confirmed it afterward.

“Wow, you are a youngster,” he smiled. “I’m 78.” I took his words as a compliment, I guess, and yet he looked nary a day over 60. Good on him.

On many days, I honestly don’t feel like a youngster, as my body seemingly breaks down more often than before. I often feel like a beaten down car that was taken off the lot from Rent-A-Wreck.

For the past several years, it seems I’ve made more trips to operating rooms than some folks have made to the grocery store. Getting old is not for sissies, said my neighbor Jimmy Buffett, shortly before he died last year. I hope Jimmy continues to enjoy the sunsets up above in Margaritaville.

In hindsight, if I were smart, which I’m not, I should have signed up for the extended warranty when I was born. I’ll know better next time.

Sadly, I’ve had other breakdowns to deal with of late, too: Last month, the transmission on my Jeep Wrangler with just 52,000 miles went completely kaput. It took over three weeks to get a new one installed. It’s now thankfully getting me from second to third gear, and all the repairs were covered by the warranty. Then, last week, the chart plotter/radar on the Rock Water crapped out in the middle of Gardiner’s Bay after I checked my lobster traps. Not good. That said, it was 22 years old. Or is it 23?

“Time for a new unit,” Adrian Pickering texted me after he inspected my electronics dockside the following day. Pickering is the owner of Ship Ashore Marina in Sag Harbor, where I’ve berthed my Rock Water for several decades.

It was time once again to open my wallet.

It’s no understatement to say that I am totally inept when it comes to anything mechanical or electrical. Last year I installed a new fish finder on the boat. It’s great and I love it, but I’m still learning how to fully utilize its many features. I can only imagine how much more complicated my new radar/chart plotter will be.

The fun, and expense, never ends.

As for fishing, things are much better than the issues I’m currently confronting.

Montauk should probably be renamed Striped Bass City. The fishing has been fast and furious. Diamond jigs and bucktails fished near the bottom have been the hot lures of late. Trolling umbrella rigs and bucktails are also landing plenty of bass. Find a rip east off of Montauk, and you’re in like flint. A few bluefish are mixed in. Happy times for many.

Fluke fishing, on the other hand, has gotten off to a slow start. That said, Capt. Mark Ryckman of the Montauk Star had a very successful Saturday for his fares. “A good day was had with our regulars and there were many limits around the boat,” he said. Anglers can retain three fluke over 19 inches per day. The Montauk Star sets sail daily at 6 a.m. from the Star Island Yacht Club.

Elsewhere, Sebastian Gorgone at Mrs. Sam’s Bait and Tackle in East Hampton just returned from a two week cruise to Alaska. “We had a great trip, bit it’s good to be back,” he said. “And it was a rocking weekend here. Lots of folks went fishing. Fluke have shown up and the big spawning porgies are now here. Stripers have been great off the ocean beaches as well as in Three Mile Harbor.”

Those who enjoy fried calamari may need to be a bit more patient. “The squid have not yet shown up in any great quantities yet,” Gorgone said. “But hopefully that will change soon.”

In recent years, there have been better catches in the fall.


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


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