Blood Moon, Silver September

Fall fell on Sept. 23, when the center of the sun crossed south of the equator
The fishing was fantastic on Sept. 16, when 11 members of the East Hampton Sportsmen’s Alliance chartered the Elizabeth II out of Montauk, catching a boat limit of sea bass, nine striped bass, and bushels of jumbo porgies. Paul Bruno

The small bumper sticker caught my eye a few days ago in a parking lot at the beach. Its message included the ubiquitous heart hieroglyph that stands for the word “love.” Montauk, the whole East End was suffused with silver light that reflects off the sea at the time of the autumnal equinox when the sun sinks lower on the horizon. I call it Silver September.

Fall fell on Sept. 23, when the center of the sun crossed south of the equator. This year, the crossing was attended by a number of events that would have sent the ancients scurrying. The blood-red eclipse of the supermoon, for instance, and the discovery of water on Mars.

The ancients aren’t the only ones. This week in Mecca during the Hajj, Muslim pilgrims approached a wall symbolizing the Devil with stones to take part in the ritual of “stoning the Devil.” Apparently the Devil took offense and over 700 celebrants died in a stampede. By contrast, Pope Francis, preaching, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” kept his in his pocket and completed triumphant visits to Cuba and the United States. No judgment here, I’m just sayin’, the trepidation of the spheres seemed to be especially trepidacious, and it was against this backdrop my eye caught the bumper sticker, which read: “I [heart] peeing in my wetsuit.”

What joy. And, on top of that my friend Peter brought me a black sea bass he’d caught at the spot called the Pocketbook, about six miles north of Montauk Harbor. I headed, gutted, and scaled it using my new scaler of Japanese design, and then fried and ate it with sauce of ginger, garlic, and soy. The point is, it’s important to appreciate the simple things during such transformative times.

Peter said he caught two sea bass and would have caught more had a contagion of dogfish (sand sharks) not descended on the spot. He reported seeing a few schools of false albacore, a presence confirmed by Harvey Bennett of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett, who keeps track of what’s going on in Gardiner’s Bay. So I reckon the fly fishermen and light-tackle aficionados will begin casting their brains loose after falsies, although the weather promises to keep them at bay for a few days.

“There was a 26-pound [striped] bass taken at first light at Indian Wells this morning,” Bennett texted on Monday, “so the blood and moon and eclipse were good for something, but I couldn’t stop howling at the darn thing.”

Bennett: “Porgies are still in the bay, snappers all over, but this could be their last week. Bunker all over the bay, albacore and big blues in the rip, but too many sea robins. The horsefoot was released on last night’s moon. Bug, what are you going to do with a 300-pound horsefoot anyway,” Bennett said referring to the conclusion of an experiment he claims was conducted in Accabonac Harbor during the summer by aliens who genetically engineered a horseshoe crab (“horsefoot” in Bonac parlance) to grow to otherworldly proportions. My question is, where was it released to?

I’m skeptical, but then again a whole lot of people were throwing stones at the Devil and consuming the body and blood of Jesus just a few days ago. And the moon bled, for God’s sake, and water on Mars? Perhaps that’s where the horsefoot went.

Paul Apostolides of Paulie’s Tackle shop in Montauk reported a steady take of striped bass “up front” under the Montauk Lighthouse and the Moorland rocks, as one might expect given day after day of east winds pushing bass and their prey within casting distance.

The deadline to enter the Montauk Surfmasters fall classic tournament is Sunday. It gets under way on Monday. Would-be entrants can apply at Paulie’s. On Saturday, the organizers will be offering a casting clinic by Craig Cantelmo and the Van Stall company, reel manufacturers. The clinic is aimed at kids, but is open to anyone. It will cover safety tips — you don’t want to hook the back of your head. It will be held starting at 8 a.m. at the beach access down the road from Paulie’s Tackle shop. I say suffer the children (of all ages) who “heart” peeing in their wetsuits in the September silver while there’s still time.