September’s Afternoon Glow

A small, stationary flotilla of boats could be seen a few miles from shore working what must have been a productive hive of summer flounder, otherwise known as fluke
Mark Rubin showed off the distinct markings of a false albacore caught while fishing with Capt. Ken Rafferty over the weekend. Capt. Ken Rafferty

    Sunday afternoon was one of those magical times reserved for September when, because the sun is lower to the horizon, the world seems to glow. Looking south from the beach in Montauk, a small, stationary flotilla of boats could be seen a few miles from shore working what must have been a productive hive of summer flounder, otherwise known as fluke.

    One imagined a giddy conversation on board one of the boats as an angler reeled up a 15-pound, 4-ounce “doormat” (more like a halibut), as happened on the Lazy Bones party boat the other day.

    “Now, that’s a fluke!” the angler’s friend crows as the fish comes over the side.

    “I beg your pardon. It’s not a fluke at all. I worked very hard for that fish,” says the angler.

    “Well, if it’s not a fluke what is it?”

    “It’s the result of having the right bait, patience, and a sensitive rod.”

    “Okay, but it’s still a fluke.”

    “No it’s not.”

    “Yes it is.”

    “Who’s on first?”

    “That’s right.”

    Laughter on a glowing September afternoon, the day after surfers enjoyed the best surfing in well over a month thanks to Tropical Storm Gabrielle, a sweet albeit crowded swell, and the same day a daughter’s wedding on the north side of Montauk overlooking Block Island Sound filled this reporter with pride.

    Not to be outdone in the happiness department, Ken Rafferty, guide to fly and light-spin-tackle anglers, found a mess of false albacore, the beautiful bullet-shaped fish of the tuna family that, when caught, pull like they could right the Costa Concordia single-handedly. The launching ramp on West Lake Drive was filled with empty boat trailers over the weekend, a sure sign that the “mosquito fleet” of fishermen hell bent on completing the false albacore, striped bass, and bluefish hat-trick had arrived.

    Chris Miller of the West Lake Marina in Montauk reported some nice bass fishing on Monday during the annual tournament among members of the New York Fire Department in memory of Battalion Chief Larry Stack, killed Sept. 11, 2001.

    Jerry O’Mara, an organizer of the event, said the fishing was “a little struggle,” but the largest fish was 411/2  pounds, caught aboard Skip Reich’s Adios charter boat. It’s the second year the tournament’s biggest fish was caught from the Adios.

    It all started when members of the N.Y.F.D. made their annual August pilgrimage to Montauk in 2001. During that tournament it was decided the date in October they would return to Montauk to fish again. The date was chosen and then came the attacks on the World Trade Center. Chief Stack was among the firemen who died. All proceeds from the raffles and such held at the Surfside Inn after-party go to sick firemen whose illnesses resulted from their search and rescue efforts at Ground Zero. More than 50 boats participated this year.

    Miller said the tuna action seemed to have slowed offshore, although Bob Testa on the Reel Affair visited the area northeast of Block Canyon called 500 Square (named for an intersection of loran navigational lines) and came up with a load of albacore tuna. The crew caught a handful of mahimahi and a small blue marlin that was released.

    Starting Sunday the Water Mill Museum Gallery will present a vintage saltwater fishing baits and lure show. The World War II-era lures will be shown at 41 Old Mill Road in Water Mill for three days.

    Anglers can now register for the Montauk Marine Basin’s Last Hurrah tuna tournament, which runs from Friday, Sept. 27, to Oct. 12.