Holding On to the Very End
With each day that passes, I try to extract every moment I can with my boat before it gets hauled out for the winter. Only half a dozen boats remain in the water at my local marina; about 150 of them now reside onshore, snuggly wrapped tight in white, sturdy plastic. Each of them is aligned gunwale to gunwale, row by row. The memories of the season gone are now solidly encased within their cold, fiberglass hulls. They are now in sleep mode.
But my stout 30-foot Nova Scotia-built boat is not ready to join its cousins on dry land just yet. It remains tied up at the far end of my floating dock, just as it has since it was launched at the end of March. The nearest vessel still in the water is about 30 yards away. It has not moved in months and will likely be plucked from the water in the next day or so.
It’s hard to face the fact that winter is almost here. Some recent warmer days have delayed my thought process that the season is rapidly, and sadly, coming to an end. Memories of shoveling snow off my stern deck are still clear in my head from a few years ago, yet I still have my sunscreen right next to me at my helm station. I just can’t let go.
My Saturday morning excursion for scallops was productive on an unusually flat-calm day. Despite a heavy dose of frost on my front cabin and windows, the 32-degree temperature actually felt warm, thanks to the strong rays of a beaming sun that fell upon the bay. I’m sure the people in the other 10 boats or so I saw that morning hauling their iron dredges felt the same. By Monday, the temperatures were even warmer, but the winds were much stiffer than 48 hours earlier. Still, it was a blessing to be on the water in the shadows of the pristine Mashomack Preserve at the south end of Shelter Island, where we witnessed an adult bald eagle fly gracefully above our heads a few days earlier. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
But it is time to finally face reality. I can no longer deny it: The boat will have to come out. I’m not sure of the exact date, but a chat with the owner of my marina this week will settle it once and for all. I’m sure at the end of this weekend it will join the phalanx of those faceless, plastic-covered boats on the sidelines looking at a completely empty dock slip. The season is over. But the good memories will never be lost.
For those still hanging on to the local fishing scene, blackfish action has been good when conditions allow. While green crabs are catching their fair share, those who have access to some prized hermit crabs have had a decided advantage in landing numerous large tog. The fish are moving into deeper water, and late-season locations like Southwest Ledge and Southeast Light off Block Island have begun to produce.
“The fishing for blackfish has been good,” said Capt. Michael Potts of the charter boat Bluefin IV out of Montauk. “And it should continue to improve.” The captain added that the action for sea bass to the south and east of Block Island remains solid, with a smattering of codfish also being landed.
On Saturday, the open boat Miss Montauk II experienced an excellent mixed-bag trip that was made up of blackfish up to 10 pounds as well as a solid catch of black sea bass. The Viking Star focused on cod and sea bass, and its hardy group of anglers was rewarded with cod up to 23 pounds and numerous large sea bass. Note that the season for blackfish closes on Dec. 14, while the last day for retaining sea bass is Dec. 31.
At the Tackle Shop in Amagansett, the owner Harvey Bennett said that striped bass are plentiful in the surf line. “Good action, but most are rats with very few keepers. The freshwater fishing has been very hot of late though.” Bennett added that while wild turkey season concludes tomorrow, the season for ducks, brant, mergansers, and coots gets underway on Monday. “There should be a lot of good hunting going on,” said the veteran hunter.
Those who have a taste for herring are in luck. “Lots of them have showed up at the commercial dock in Three Mile Harbor,” beamed Sebastian Gorgone of Mrs. Sam’s Bait and Tackle in East Hampton. “There are still a few squid around too, but that seems to be coming to an end with the colder waters.” Gorgone confirmed that stripers can still be had in the ocean wash, but that most are well under the minimum 28-inch size limit. “It was a pretty good fishing season over all,” he added. “Let’s hope for a good one next year.” Well said.