Thanksgiving is perhaps the one holiday that has not yet had its meaning sucked from it by commercial vampires, at least not here on the East End. Maybe because of the wild turkeys grazing along the side of the road.
Certainly nature’s bounty in the form of striped bass, scallops, ducks, herring, deer, deer, and more deer, cauliflower, squash, brussels sprouts, and cranberries — if you know where the bogs lie — helps.
State waters continue to produce scallops and the scallop season opened in town waters on Monday. Striped bass have not left yet. Gene Hamilton, a dedicated fisherman, said that large stripers continue to haunt dips and coves in Shinnecock Bay.
The wind kept most boats at bay over the weekend, but those hearty souls who ventured forth found striped bass, although in the “schoolie” size range. Surfcasters continue to be frustrated although there was one unconfirmed report that Dennis Gaviola found a 25-pound bass under the Montauk Light in recent days.
Sue Jappell at Paulie’s Tackle shop in Montauk reported that anglers were saying a new body of striped bass moved into Montauk waters late last week. “There was action over the weekend from the beach, and boats were catching stripers in the rips around Montauk Point prior to the weekend’s winds.”
Fred (the Eel) Kalkstein, an organizer of the Montauk SurfMasters striped bass tournament, confirmed that at least a few bass in the 20-pound range had been caught around Montauk Point, on the north side to be more precise. Kalkstein said that not one bass had been weighed as a tournament contender this month.
“The only happy guy out there is Bruno,” he said, meaning John Bruno, who has been in possession of first place in the winner-take-all wetsuit division since Oct. 22 when he reeled in a 50.82-pounder.
October was about as good as a surfcaster can expect to see. True, Kleaver Oleas, in first place in the wader division, caught his 37.74-pounder on Sept. 27, but then caught his second-place, 32.96-pound bass on Oct. 14, just four days after Columbus Day when casters were practically wading through huge schools of big fish. The great casting lasted through October. Gary Krist has the third-place bass in the wader division, a 32.24-pounder caught on Oct. 19.
Mary Ellen Kane holds first and second positions in the women’s division with 15.45 and 14.06-pound bass caught on Oct. 15 and 16 respectively. Joan Naso-Federman is in third place with a 10.32-pound bass also caught on Oct. 16. Philip Schnell is at the top of the heap in the SurfMasters tournament’s Youth division for anglers ages 12 to 17. His fish, caught on Oct. 6, weighed 20.98 pounds. Dylan Lackner has the second-place, 11.9-pound bass, caught on Oct. 15. James Kim Jr. is in sole position of first place in the under-12 kid’s class with a 10.6-pound bass caught on Oct. 6.
On Sunday, schools of herring were being found not far outside the Montauk Harbor Inlet where they like to gather and west around Culloden Point into Fort Pond Bay.
A friend filleted about a dozen over the weekend and smoked them in lieu of pickling, using a light brine and no extra spices. An experiment with toasted rye bread, sweet onion, sour cream, and smoked herring turned out to be a Thanksgiving success — outstanding.
Not counting today, Turkey Day, there are only six more days of fishing left before the tournament’s finale next Thursday.
Speaking of turkeys, the state hunting season for the wild variety started Saturday and closed yesterday.
The puddle duck season for mallards, pintail, redheads, scaup, canvasbacks, and mergansers will run from Thanksgiving Day to Sunday, then again from Dec. 5 through Jan. 29.