Out of the Deep Sleep

We rarely take the time to pause and take in the view
McCoy Gosman caught this fluke off Gosman’s Dock in Montauk fishing with his grandfather John Bennett. John Bennett

Back in March, I set out my lobster traps for the first time in about nine years. With various work commitments behind me, I finally had enough free time to exhume my gear from its extended deep sleep on dry land. 

Dropping my menhaden-baited, weatherworn traps into the icy 42-degree water at one of my old favorite lobster haunts under the curious gaze of about a dozen seals proved to be extremely therapeutic. And according to my logbook, this particular underwater cluster of rubble, rocks, and boulders had produced very well in the past. It felt good to be back.

Hoping for a good haul the following week when I went back to check on them, I also took the time that morning to step back in my aft cockpit to exhale, reflect, and take in just how lucky I was to be in such surroundings under the cold late-winter sunshine. With nary another boat in sight in any direction, it was refreshing and mind-clearing. 

As I’ve stubbornly learned, as one advances in years, one usually gains a greater appreciation of the wonderful fortune we have to be alive and enjoy such simple times. Life seems to chug along faster with each passing year and we rarely take the time to pause and take in the view. In the few months since I first started soaking my traps, I’ve made it a point to savor every moment, no matter how many lobsters are landed.

That said, the catch, which has consisted mainly of nice hard shells, has been pretty good thus far. Despite a downward trend in the local lobster population for the past 15 years or so, I’ve been fortunate to have experienced more than my fair share of lobster dinners. I have also stockpiled several packages of frozen cooked meat that is now in my basement freezer ready to be enjoyed after the season closes in early September. 

In the meantime, I will continue to relish my leisurely cruise to the lobster grounds, about an hour each way, and to share my catch with my friends onshore. Needless to say, it’s easy to accumulate friends when lobster is offered.  

At the Tackle Shop in Amagansett, Harvey Bennett, an avid New York Yankees fan, was thrilled with how well his team has performed this season, despite the squad’s being swept by lowly Tampa over the weekend. Like last year, the veteran tackle proprietor has once again commenced his quest to secure both new and used baseball equipment to send to underprivileged youth in the Dominican Republic.

“I’m on the hunt for just about anything . . . hats, gloves, balls, bats, and uniforms,” he said on Monday morning, which also happened to be his birthday. This winter, Bennett shipped four large containers of baseball equipment to the country. “It was so gratifying to get pictures back from the kids wearing and using the equipment. I hope again we will get a good amount of donations this summer.” Game on.

Beyond the baseball diamond, Bennett remarked that the fishing has been solid. “Bass action along the beaches has been very consistent,” he said. “Porgies are everywhere and big, and a good amount of bluefish have shown up of late. Fluking has been good at Napeague, and don’t forget the freshwater fishing too. Lots of largemouth bass are in Fort Pond in Montauk.”

Over at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor, Ken Morse spoke wide-eyed of the large striped bass that showed up in the ocean wash near Sagg Main Beach on Friday morning. “Those who were lucky enough to be there said it was the best striped bass fishing they had seen in over 20 years, with numerous fish between 20 and 45 pounds landed.” 

With large schools of menhaden around to feed on, a number of whales have been swimming close to the beach on the prowl for breakfast. “Some of the guys said that they could cast their lures beyond the feeding whales, they were that close,” Morse said. “The pictures I saw were amazing. I wished I was there.” As of Monday morning, the action for the large linesiders was still productive on the local beaches.

On Sunday evening, a similar feeding frenzy was witnessed by Morgan Nixon of East Hampton while at Long Beach on Noyac Bay, where small bluefish ganged up on hordes of blowfish that were pressed up tight against the shoreline trying to avoid being Sunday supper. The only good news for the blowfish was that no whales were around to also partake in the feast. 

At Mrs. Sam’s Bait and Tackle in East Hampton, Sebastian Gorgone was enthused about the blowfish action, too. As the fishing has been good, “I’ve been selling a lot of rigs lately,” he said. “The porgy fishing has been excellent just about everywhere, including Sammy’s Beach, where you can catch fish over two pounds from the shoreline. Also, there are a lot of small bluefish showing up and some big stripers have been taken in Three Mile Harbor.”

Saturday finally witnessed the opening of black sea bass season in New York waters, but the northeast breeze and heavy fog kept many boats tied up to the dock. Fluke fishing too, continues to witness its ups and downs, depending on the weather.

“We were able to get out this weekend and the fishing was decent,” said Kathy Vegessi of the Montauk party boat Lazybones. “A lot of short fluke are around, but the keeper fluke we are seeing are all nice-sized. Some sea bass were also taken on the trips.” The Bones sets sail daily at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. 

Striped bass fishing at Montauk continues on the upswing and should crest with the full moon tonight. It’s only a matter of time before those jumbo-size stripers down the beach to the west settle into their summertime homes in the rips to the east of the Montauk Lighthouse.


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