Life: The symphony of birds, thousands of them greeted the sun on Monday morning. Surfers, hundreds of them, awoke to paddle into a surprise east swell that arrived during the night with an offshore wind to sculpt near-perfect waves. Surfcasters greeted the news that big, very big striped bass were caught from the rocks in Montauk’s moorland coves during the night. At Lazy Point, the naming of the same night’s stars and constellations via a stargazer app on a friend’s iPhone was accompanied by a hilarious, wine-spiced prattle regarding Albert’s theory of space-time as the essence of mahimahi wafted from the grill.
This East End, early-summer cornucopia of gifts flowed forth on the first day of the month against the backdrop, the blackdrop of a young Montauker’s untimely death. The shock of it hung in the minds of our close-knit community as we mourned surrounded by the beauty of what should have been.
The stripers were indeed large, perhaps the same body of fish witnessed around North Haven’s South Ferry slip last week. The action took place during the early morning hours of May 31 into June 1. Matt McDermott’s bass was the biggest at 54.12 pounds. Frank LaSalle’s weighed in at 48.52 pounds. Ben McCarron reeled in a 43.8-pounder, and Walter Clymer’s bass that most years would have seemed a spring giant weighed 36.7 pounds.
McDermott’s bass put him in the lead of the Montauk SurfMaster’s spring tournament. The school of big fish may not stick around for long. It’s about time for the larger body of smaller striped bass to appear, first in Gardiner’s Bay outside Accabonac Harbor, Devon, Gardiner’s Island, and along Napeague. A fly fisherman was seen poling along in the shallows at the south end of Lake Montauk on Sunday, a good place to sight-cast for nearly arrived stripers.
On May 26, Gary (Toad) Stephens ventured south of Montauk to find a fluke in the “doormat” class at 8.4 pounds. He’s now the king of the hill in the season-long fluke tournament. The fluke take continues apace, helped along by the new, five-fish bag limit and 18-inch minimum size.
Not all the good fishing took place in the brine. Harvey Bennett, owner of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett, reported very large walleye up to seven pounds were being caught in Montauk’s Fort Pond. Earthworms were doing the trick. Next time you’re in his shop, ask him about the times he sat on the porch of his old shop at Skimhampton with Elizabeth Taylor. He says they talked worms of all kinds, baits she apparently preferred.
Gardiner’s Bay also holds fluke and porgies, especially around Accabonac Harbor. In East Hampton, the ocean around the Georgica jetties is yielding striped bass. According to Bennett, weakfish are being caught in Northwest Harbor. He’s looking for help in his shop, preferably someone who speaks Spanish as well as Ingles.
Early warning: The world premiere of Allan Weisbecker’s “Water Time: Surf Travel Diary of a Madman,” will take place at the Crabby Cowboy in Montauk on Saturday, June 14, at 9 p.m.