The Lingua Franca

The words of the children flowed effortlessly
Success! A young fisherman pulled a porgy from Fort Pond Bay in Montauk on Monday afternoon Russell Drumm

   “Dreary” has gotten a bad rap. The word might have been used Labor Day afternoon in the soft fog and light drizzle that shrouded Hither Woods as seen from the end of the town pier that juts into Fort Pond Bay, where members of several families cut clam baits on the wooden railings and fished for porgies. The words of the children flowed effortlessly from English to Spanish and back again, their tongues deciding which of them best fit the nuance at hand. Chinese was spoken, Japanese, and something Slavic. Laughter was the lingua franca.
    As a word for the day, “dreary” fell far short, especially as trains, one after the other, wound their way west through the green of Hither Woods, silver snakes swollen with tiresome crowds. Rodrigue Tovar II of Brooklyn, who attends John Jay College of Criminal Justice with plans to join the Air Force and become a pilot, said he had fished all day. He had a cooler full to prove it. “Next Sunday we’ll be back early and with more bait,” he said, lowering his hooks with the last of his bait in hopes of one more “jumbo.”
    At one point, as lively banter accompanied each porgy brought over the railing, a large school of menhaden worked its way toward the pier with hundreds of tiny dorsal fins working the surface. Being vegetarian, bunker, as they are known, turn up their noses at the clam baits, but being oily, they will soon lure migrating striped bass to Gardiner’s Bay and into the tidal rips surrounding Montauk Point. The school was a good sign.
    In fact, striped bass, whose numbers had decreased in the area as is typical of August, have begun to show again according to charter fishermen. Bass in the 20 to 30-pound class were found over the weekend.
    This bodes well for the Montauk SurfMasters tournament due to get under way on Sept. 15. This season, organizers are offering SurfMaster hoodies for $75, each in a choice of colors.
    And speaking of tournaments, the annual snapper (baby bluefish) derby will be held at Harbor Marina on Three Mile Harbor on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The entry fee is $5 with a free lure for the first 30 competitors. There are three age groups, 3 to 8, 9 to 12, and 13 plus.
    In other inshore action, Paulie’s Tackle shop in Montauk reported that triggerfish continue to be caught from Montauk’s south-facing beaches using clam baits. Weakfish too are grabbing clams and small bucktail lures.
    In Gardiner’s Bay, Harvey Bennett of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett reported “tons of weakfish and small striped bass, fluke ass-deep to a tall Bonacker, and the biggest porgies on earth. One billion snappers and counting,” Bennett raved. He also said false albacore had made an appearance, some Spanish mackerel, and at least one shark of unknown species.
    Blowfish, a k a bottlefish, puffers, blowfish, and blowtoads, have again inundated Gardiner’s Bay. A few years ago, a striped bass washed up on the ocean beach with a blowfish, still in balloon mode, stuck in its mouth. Proof that blowhardiness is not the province of politicians alone.
    Offshore, the action continues in Block Canyon. Anglers had a productive trip aboard the Defiant on Saturday, claiming six bigeye tuna with some dramatic tussles, and a number of white marlin.

Rodrigue Tovar II fished Huck Finn-style on the town pier in Fort Pond Bay. Russell Drumm
The crew of the Defiant hoisted a white marlin prior to its release in Block Canyon on Saturday.