On the Water: If Those Walls Could Talk

Capt. Tom Cusimano of the Sea Wife IV charter boat washed the deck after a successful outing for striped bass and fluke on Sunday in Montauk. Russell Drumm

    On Sunday afternoon in Montauk, Capt. Tom Cusimano was swabbing the deck of his Sea Wife IV while his mate filleted nice, fat striped bass, the first of the season, he said. A bucket of bluefish stood to one side. Nine fluke, white bellies up, were arranged in pattern that suggested stepping stones to a bountiful season.
    But something was wrong. The green building across the parking lot from charter boat dock was closed. Salivar’s bar and restaurant, where the head of Capt. Frank Mundus’s 4,000-pound great white hangs in the bar room, the same room that late-night revelers emptied at 4 a.m., only to slide into the breakfast room to mingle with fishermen fortifying themselves for a day offshore. Salivar’s, its walls adorned with hundreds of Polaroid photos of regulars that the owner, the late Peter Chimpukis Jr., took over the years, Salivar’s, ground zero at the Montauk docks for decades, was closed. Salivar’s is for sale with no plans to reopen at present.
    If those walls could talk they would surely divulge an encyclopedia of fish stories like no other. Peter Chimpukis Sr. purchased the building from a man named Louis Salivar in about 1957 according to Henry Uihlein of nearby Uihlein’s Marina and Boat Rental. Capt. Frank Tuma agreed and added that Mr. Salivar built the original structure in the early ’50s and ran it as a restaurant.
    Uihlein grew up on the docks. He recalled that he’d squired his first date to the elder Chimpukis’s original restaurant, an Italian eatery located in front of Fitzgerald’s saloon, now the Dock restaurant and bar. Uihlein said he was 11, and his first-date nerves combined with his lack of spaghetti-eating experience probably created a messy lasting impression on his dinner partner. He also mentioned that his rental boats are ready to be rented.
    Harvey Bennett of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett reminds us that the old saw about weakfish timing their appearance to coincide with the blooming of lilacs has proved itself once again. Weakfish, those black-spotted, yellow-finned, electric-rainbow-sided fish also known as Squateague, or sea trout, are being caught off Jessup’s Neck. 
    Several reports have fluke making a dramatic showing in Gardiner’s Bay and Sag Harbor. Peter Van Scoyoc, a charterman who fishes out of Sag Harbor and Montauk, took Jeff Schumacher and his kids out on Saturday with good fishing in the fluke and bluefish departments. One sizable fluke wore through a 40-pound test leader with its thrashing and got away.
    Surfcasters are catching bass at Main Beach in East Hampton and from the south side beaches of Montauk, particularly around Ditch Plain. Most of the bass caught from the beach have been on the small side thus far. On the other hand, some big blues are in the wash. Paul Apostolides of Paulie’s Tackle in Montauk said the prey species were small so far, anchovies and spearing. New Jersey was seeing big bass during the week, reportedly feeding on bunker.
    West Lake Marina has fluke ammunition for sale. A spearing and squid combination known as the Montauk Sandwich has been working for anglers on Montauk’s south side. Chris Miller of West Lake said a few eight-pound flatties were brought in over the weekend, as well as keeper bass that were caught at the Pollock Rip off Montauk Point with trolled bucktails.