Under the Full Moon

The moon that became fulsome on June 2 lighted up the night fishing big time.
Glenn Grothmann of Montauk, a k a the Sandman, caught this hefty 51.68-pound striped bass on Friday. Paulie’s Tackle

A full moon occurs when our favorite satellite is almost entirely on the opposite side of the earth from the sun. It happens every 29-1/2 days.

This time of year the very thought of it illuminates the imaginations of fishermen of all stripes, whether they lower clam bait, live eels, or cast lures of many disguises in hopes of hooking Morone saxitilis, striped bass. The moon that became fulsome on June 2 lighted up the night fishing big time.

That night, Arden Gardell, a surfcaster, heaved an unidentified lure that hooked a 24.48-pounder, and Kevin Logie used the light of the moon to catch a behemoth bass that was weighed in at Paulie’s Tackle shop in Montauk at 49.24 pounds.

The bass fishing has come on strong in recent days coming on the tail of an impressive early fluke run. On Monday, Michael Potts, captain of the Blue Fin IV charter boat, reported the arrival of striped bass up to 50 pounds.

Harvey Bennett at the Tackle Shop in Amagansett said he was seeing the same thing. Bennett said that Indian Wells Beach on Gansett’s ocean side had produced a 37-pound striper on the moon, plus bluefish in the 10-to-12-pound range. The blues were feeding on bunker. “It’s like a fall run in spring,” he said, adding that bass in the 40-pound range were schooling in one of their favorite haunts around the South Ferry slip on Shelter Island. “Cool nights just off the full moon. That’s the key,” Bennett said.

Capt. Harry Clemenz loved cool nights just off the full moon. He loved everything about the sea and fishing. We lost him on May 13 at the age of 83. Captain Clemenz was a private fishing guide who helped pioneer big-game sport fishing in Montauk.

I was at the dock on July 20, 1986, when Capt. Bill Sweedler’s 46-foot Bertram tied up at the Montauk Marine Basin. On board was a fish like I had never seen, like I have never seen again. Harry “the Hump,” as he was affectionately known, had guided the fishing boat to a world-record blue marlin.

As reported in The Star’s obituary, Captain Clemenz told Sport Fishing magazine that when the fish was hooked, Captain Sweedler’s 19-year-old son, William Jr., jumped into the fighting chair. Clemenz described the contest as “a down-and-dirty fight.” Two hours into it, the marlin broke the rod in half. Captain Clemenz was able to tie the line into the line of another rod and reel, and the battle continued for three hours more.

The giant blue measured 15 feet long, and with a girth of nearly 8 feet at its thickest point. It weighed 1,174.5 pounds, a record 234 pounds heavier than the previous record marlins, two weighing exactly 940 pounds, also caught off Long Island in the early ’80s.

I will never forget the marlin’s eyes, blue and literally as big as saucers. I think mine were too. An incredibly beautiful animal to behold.

Harry Clemenz was a fixture around the Montauk docks, with skills honed over decades, starting back when the Deep Sea Club on Star Island was the epicenter of big game fishing in the Northeast. And, let us not forget his great sense of humor. Harry will be sorely missed.

As for Gardiner’s Bay, Cedar Point is said to be holding big bass and blues. Right outside Accabonac Harbor is a good bet for fluke and big bluefish chasing bunker. Word has it that Cherry Harbor continues to produce porgies en masse, with fluke found around Gardiner’s Island’s southeastern shoals.

I’m warning them now. The sloop Leilani is only two coats of varnish away from being launched. Soon after, her captain (me) will be steering her under sail to the porgy grounds while silently trolling a silver something to which a big bass or bluefish might take a shine.