Look Down, and Voila!

A must-have T-shirt

    As we know, time and tide wait for no man, or woman for that matter. There’s really nothing that can be done to stem the first part of the old saw, but being aware of our semidiurnal tide schedule is crucial for sailors, fishermen, surfers, and habitual beach walkers.  
    For this reason, Peter Spacek, an artist, illustrator, and the person responsible for The Star’s weekly Startoons, has created a must-have T-shirt for the tidally dependent. Spacek has printed a fresh batch of Ts that feature four months’ worth of tide charts on the front, complete with corresponding phases of the moon.
    So there you are on the deck of your boat. The fish will start biting on the turn of the tide, but you left your Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book at home. It looks like slack tide, but looks can be deceiving. How long will you have to wait? Should you move? Your guests, who have driven here from upstate, are getting antsy.
    Then you remember you’re wearing Spacek’s tide shirt. You don’t even need to slip it off to read (and in the process reveal the Budweiser tumor you’ve grown over the winter), because Spacek has printed the charts upside down. All you have to do is look down, pull your shirt away from your waist (skip this step if your belly is large enough), and voila! Your friends will think you’re one with the sea, pure salt. Just be careful not to spill coffee or ketchup on it or you could miss the tide.
    Spacek also has Ts with the tide charts on the back and a ruler up the front with the minimum sizes of popular species clearly marked. The shirts are available on line at ditchink.com, at Gone Local in Amagansett, and at the Curiosity shop in East Hampton.
    Sue Jappell down at Paulie’s Tackle shop in Montauk reported surfcasters making wonderful but unlikely catches along Montauk’s sand-bottomed ocean beaches. Porgies, some in the two-to- three-pound range, are being landed, along with the occasional fluke, striped bass, and bluefish.
    “Twice, tourists have come in and I’ve outfitted them with rigs and they’ve come back with one of each kind I told them about. One person with a high-low rig had a fluke on the bottom, a porgy on top,” Jeppel said on Monday. She reasoned the bottom feeders were probably attracted to an extensive mussel bed lying within casting distance from shore.
    There have been a few reports of green bonito in the ’hood. Greenies, for those of you who don’t know, are often mistaken for false albacore. They too are bullet-shaped mini-tunas, somewhat smaller, but they arrive earlier than the falsies, and unlike the albacore the greenies make for delicious eating. They are arguably among the very finest eating fish in the sea.
    Anything pushing bait along the surface in the immediate future could well be a green bonito. They share, with false albacore, sharp eyes. Tins and other small lures should be retrieved very quickly.
    Harvey Bennett of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett reported sightings last week. Ken Rafferty, light-tackle and fly-fishing guide, agreed that “it’s a perfect time for them. The problem is, they mix in with the bluefish. They’ve such good eyes that you can’t use wire leader, but if you don’t use wire, the bluefish will take the lure. Don’t cast without wire leader unless you see an actual school of them.”
    The light-tackle guide said the schools of bunker that were seen in eastern Gardiner’s Bay and Block Island Sound seem to have moved west to around Shelter Island. “When I see a school of bunker, I cast a surface plug across the top. Big bluefish come up thinking it’s a wounded bunker. I used to go out every day searching for a black hole,” Rafferty said, speaking of the dark mass that marks a bunker school.
    Brian Fromm returned from a two-night trip in the offshore canyons on Monday with a big-eye tuna weighing 173 pounds. The boat also had 15 yellowfins that dressed out to about 50 pounds each.
    “There’s a nice amount of striped bass around. Friday was stupid for midsummer. We had a 45 and a 48-pound striper weighed in. Most were in the 20-to-30-pound class. All big fish, and all caught on live eels. Every drift, every rod bent. You see that at times in September and October,” said Chris Miller of the West Lake Marina in Montauk.
    Harvey Bennett said fluke continue to be caught off Napeague. He said he was given two giant fluke fillets the other day. “They were like two feet long and about 18 inches wide. The fish had to be 15 to 16 pounds. Garlic, salt and pepper, olive oil, and lemon.”