“Moooooooooooo,” was what Brian Ritter heard when he answered the phone at 4 in the morning one week ago. He recognized the voice, and he needed no translation. It was Mike Coppola telling him he’d caught a big cow, a female of the species Morone saxatilis, a striped bass.
First, the birds in the trees greeted the sun with song and chatter. A woodpecker hammered away on an old catalpa tree pregnant with its orchid-like blossoms. Then came the low drone of boats leaving Montauk Harbor.
Of course, the big news is the 44.7-pound striped bass that the surfcaster Ben McCarron caught on Saturday under the Montauk Lighthouse on a bucktail. The big bass puts McCarron in first place in the Montauk SurfMasters spring tournament, and the fish beat the competition in the weekend tournament held from Paulie’s Tackle Shop in Montauk.
Let’s talk about the smell of fish. It’s often scorned, but the objectionable redolence is usually the result of proteins gone bad, spoiled. The truth is, fish fresh out of the water smell sweet, fish in the water sweeter still.
Bruce Palmer oversees things at the East Hampton Town’s recycling center in Montauk, directing people with tires to the tire bin, people with old grills and lawnmowers to the metal container, checking for scofflaw dumpers dumping without benefit of a 2013 sticker — all these things with a mind that drifts seaward at times.
Montauk is bipolar this time of year. When the summer’s southwesterly winds start to blow in May and early June, a Mason-Dixon line of sorts runs the length of the peninsula that is the east end of the South Fork.
The land south of the line is shrouded in thick, cold fog where the winter ocean first meets warm air blowing off the land west to east. North of the line, where the cold sea has less influence, the land is often bathed in warm sunlight.