On the Water: The Meaning of Life

    When it comes to fishing, this is the time of year when anglers put their ears to the railroad tracks — metaphorically speaking, of course — when ears become radar, eyes become sonar, noses become bloodhounds, when rumors grow like Jack’s beanstalk, when even the slightest indication that the finned ones have arrived on their annual migrations gives meaning to life.
    “Bass are in the ferry slip,” is an example of how just a few words can make hearts soar like eagles. That would be the South Ferry that connects North Haven to Shelter Island, where, for unknown reasons, striped bass appear early.
    “I saw a seagull with a fluke on the beach near Devon,” is another sign from above, in this case from the Tackle Shop in Amagansett where the first few sales of sandworms indicated that the search for porgies has begun.
    “Nothing in the ocean, but there’s bluefish around Bonac Creek” is surfcasting jargon for where best to begin casting for striped bass and blues — Bonac Creek referring to Accabonac Harbor, where small bass are often found early in the harbor’s shallows, ideal light-tackle and fly-casting. Good idea to check for early bass around tributaries to Three Mile Harbor and Lake Montauk, where alewives might be drawing them. Alewives were reportedly seen in Little Reed Pond, a tidal pond that feeds in and out of Lake Montauk. The herring are a good sign not witnessed in some time.
    And, don’t forget to look up for fish. By all accounts, the ospreys that winter as far south as Brazil, Costa Rica, and Trinidad have returned to their nests. It’s not unusual to see an osprey pecking at a flounder on top of a telephone pole or flying overhead with a small bass in its talons. Up to us to figure out where they got ’em.
    Paul Apostolides of Paulie’s Tackle shop in Montauk reported the absence of squid. “It’s a little late,” he said of the spring run, which not only draws larger predators to the waters around Montauk, but has, over the past several seasons, provided tons of inky fun to the fishermen fishing by nighttime lamplight in Fort Pond Bay.
    The squid should be here soon, and given a reasonably strong wind, the near-shore presence of their schools can often be detected by sensitive noses as a sweet smell.