Attack of the Webbed Feet

Striped bass, bluefish, porgies, and fluke are in good supply in Gardiner’s Bay
This mystery fish was found on the banks of Fort Pond in Montauk. An archival print will go to the reader who first identifies it. Jane Bimson

    He believes it could be the beginning of a big payback. “Nature’s vengeance. For all the tweety birds I shot with my BB gun, and all the fish, and all the ducks. I’m probably going to be stomped to death by webbed feet.”
    What’s prompted Harvey Bennett’s concerns was a run-in with a deer early in the morning last Thursday near Dev­on in Amagansett.
    “I just bought a really nice bike. It was the third time I rode it. I just caught the deer out of the corner of my eye. Next thing I knew I was laying in the road. He must have grazed the rear end. I’m bruised and my knee got skunned up [that’s Bonac for “skinned” as in “skunning an eel”], but I’m okay.”
    Striped bass, bluefish, porgies, and fluke are in good supply in Gardiner’s Bay, but he said he’s not sure if he dare go fishing.
    The big question coming out of the Montauk SurfMasters Tournament this week is this: Will Gary Krist regret not weighing in his 21.36-pound striped bass? Not a big bass, relatively speaking, but then again the surfcasting harvest since the spring shoot-out tournament began on May 1 has been lean, to say the least. Krist’s fish did place second in the Paulie’s Tackle shop tournament over the weekend.
    The point is, a 20-something-pound striped bass could very well take the prize, so better to look silly weighing in a 20-pounder than look silly when a smaller one wins it all. 
    The good news is there has been some pretty consistent casting action on the north side of the Montauk Lighthouse in recent days. Fred Kalkstein, an organizer of the Montauk SurfMasters tourney, said there was a 32-pounder taken over the weekend using a darter lure, “and some very reliable rumors of a few ‘lost girls,’ which would have tipped the scales north of 20 pounds for sure.”
    Speaking of lost girls, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has decided to reduce the number of tags that each of the state’s commercial striped bass permit holders get this year. By state law, each bass caught for the market must be tagged.
    The reason, according to Arnold Leo, secretary of the East Hampton Town Baymen’s Association, stems from the fact that the state allocated more tags to each fisherman last year because for several years the overall state quota had not been met. “Lo and behold, last year instead of the usual 10 percent underage, they used up all the tags, plus the average weight of the fish was greater,” Mr. Leo said.
    The state quota for commercial fishermen will be 828,000 pounds this year, down from 854,731 pounds. The number of permit holders has remained pretty much the same. Each permit holder received 241 tags last year. They will get 210 for 2012.
    The extra tags and extra weight resulted in a harvest surplus, thus the reduction in tags this year. Mr. Leo said that unlike the commercial fishery, the recreational side has no harvest cap. Sports are permitted to catch as many bass as they can at a rate of one per day, or two per day on for-hire boats, that measure at least 28 inches long. The total catch is computed later via random survey.
    “The argument we would make is that this is a reallocation of the fishery, allowing the sportfishing quota to increase while capping the commercial harvest and then not acknowledging that the stock is in such good shape. There is a colossal stock of adult bass,” Mr. Leo said.
    A portion of that colossal stock was caught during the Ducks Unlimited fishing tournament held from the Star Island Yacht Club over the weekend. Scott Leonard, who runs the tackle section at the yacht club, said the winning bass weighed 41 pounds. Most of the bass weighed in the 20 to 30-pound range were caught trolling. During a fishing trip Sam Gershowitz, the yacht club owner, and friends caught two 35-pound bass on eels.  
    The yacht club is selling live bait eels and live bunker, which are usually in stock Thursdays and Fridays for weekend anglers.
    Mr. Leonard reported excellent fluke fishing over the weekend with “a lot of eights” being caught. That is, eight-pound summer flounder. And Mr. Bennett reported the same productive fluke fishing around Buoy 2 in Gardiner’s Bay. Dinner-plate-size porgies are schooling in the bay as well.