The One That Got Away

Blowfish are swarming local waters this season
Edward L. Shugrue III went fly-fishing in Three Mile Harbor on Saturday and was rewarded with this plump striped bass. Edward Shugrue

    Harvey Bennett of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett can always be counted on for a fish tale or two. On Monday he related the adventures of one blowfish, a k a bottlefish or blowtoad.
    Bennett said he was checking the waters just outside Fresh Pond in Amagansett for signs of fish when he observed a seagull pick a blowfish from the surface. Blowfish are swarming local waters this season, always good for a laugh and a very tasty dinner.
    When the seagull grabbed hold, the fish expanded into a grapefruit-size ball as nature intended. The gull flew the fish over the beach and dropped it, as gulls will in order to crack open clams or otherwise prepare seafood for dinner.
    The blowfish bounced once or twice and rolled around like a ball. “The gull was pecking but couldn’t pop it. I went toward it thinking I could skin it out, but the bird took it, dropped it in the water still trying to peck it. The thing floated around, then deflated and swam away.”
    A trying day, but with a happy ending. Speaking of which, Chris Miller of the West Lake Marina in Montauk said that despite the strong winds on Saturday and Sunday, “bass fishing was great and fluke fishing was consistent.” Striped bass are jumping on diamond jigs. Miller said four fishermen from Connecticut visited the waters south of the spot called the Elbow off Montauk Point over the weekend and later reported catching close to 100 bass.
    “Toad had another 8.9-pound fluke,” Miller said, speaking of Gary Stephens, a fishing magician with either a bottom-fishing or surfcasting rod.
    Miller said boaters were catching an impressive number of black sea bass. Unfortunately they are being returned to the sea. The sea bass season will not get under way until June 15. It runs until Dec. 31. In a weird twist, it seems the National Marine Fisheries Service is all for opening the sea bass season earlier but the State Department of Environmental Conservation will not permit them to be landed here.
    Ken Rafferty, a light-tackle and fly-fishing guru and guide, took Rick DeLano and friends to Jessup’s Neck on Saturday, where they found plenty of bluefish to taunt with their spinning gear. They drifted along Nassau Point, where they sighted a school of large stripers that proved “too smart” to bite on the lures.
    On Sunday, Rafferty took Ralph Cotton to Jessup’s with friends all armed with fly-fishing gear. There they found striped bass circling behind a sandbar. “You could watch big schools round up. First hit was on the stern, the second was at the bow,” Rafferty said. “They were fought at the same time, both about 12 pounds. We stayed there for about an hour and half and landed six more stripers, the largest 21 pounds.”
    For those interested in learning how to fly-fish, Rafferty teaches most mornings. He can be contacted at Fishing EastHampton.com.
    Harvey Bennett also reported seeing “birds going nuts in Plum Gut” while aboard the Cross Sound Ferry. “It looked just like fall.”