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Old 07-19-2014, 02:51 PM
steamboat1 steamboat1 is offline
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NY Times Artical "In Pursuit of Bluefish"

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/17/sp...oat.html?_r=0#

Plumb Beach, Brooklyn: Brawny and brutish, with teeth like stilettos, a bluefish on the line is bound to wake you from the lassitude brought on by even the most dolorous winter. This season, I looked on with mounting interest as the Internet ignited with reports of bluefish action.

After a few days of compulsively checking an often reliable website, I found that the fish stories had reached enough critical mass to carry a ring of truth. (First unbreakable rule of fishing: Never believe just one report.)

I booked a spot on the Flamingo III, one of the most venerable of the open-to-all-comers party boats that remain from the dozens of vessels that once sailed from nearby Sheepshead Bay to the inshore fishing grounds.

“Do I need my rubber boots?” I asked the skipper, Bob Wiegand. Captain Bob regarded my Top-Siders the way an artillery officer might size up a BB gun. “It can get pretty bloody,” he said. “I’d wear them.” Most of my fellow anglers wore boots and rubberized overalls, a sensible outfit for a visit to an abattoir and equally suitable to the landing and filleting of big bluefish.

Bob is the third generation of his family to ply our local waters. His son and first mate, Rob, sails with him. I learned in a subsequent phone call with the paterfamilias, Walter, that their family business had grown out of necessity.

“I was 10 or 11 — height of the Depression,” he recalled in the working-class accent of old-time Yorkville (think Whitey Ford and Jimmy Cagney, who hailed from that neighborhood). “Times were tough. My dad would hang out in the bars chatting up the patrons. He’d offer to drive then down to Brielle, N.J., in a secondhand funeral limo he had picked up cheaply. For a few bucks, a charter captain would take the passengers fishing, along with my dad, who got a cut of the fare and also fished for free. He’d sell his catch to restaurants.”

As he told his story, it occurred to me that if I were sitting in a bar at 2 a.m., and a stranger offered to drive me to the Jersey Shore in a funeral vehicle, I might have begged off.

The fisherfolk that morning were the typical party boat potpourri, including a retired corrections officer, two machinists, a Verizon executive, two firefighters, a fine arts photographer, and a smattering of sons and daughters, some of them eager to fish and others quite obviously coerced into quality bonding time with Dad. We made our way across Jamaica Bay to Breezy Point, where, on a moving tide, predators often lie in wait for struggling baitfish. But Breezy was becalmed, so we motored farther east, just off the surfing beaches of the newly hip Rockaways.

We dropped our diamond jigs in the water — shiny metallic lures that imitate baitfish. When they hit bottom, we retrieved quickly. The regulars among our group had mastered the elegant underhand toss of a heavy lure with a bait casting reel, but I ham-handedly backlashed a bit until muscle memory from long ago kicked in. An angler in the bow was soon into a blue. The mate gaffed a nine-pounder and flung it onto the deck, where it bled and thrashed. I saw the wisdom of overalls and boots. Boating a bluefish can be a sloppy business.
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We returned to Breezy, where a rip current had set up, trapping the bait. The bluefish cooperated; all around the boat, rods bent and anglers hooted and shouted as blues came over the rails. Their flopping sounded like vigorous applause in a small nightclub. To my right, Nixida Ansoloe, a young lady in a Harvard sweatshirt, fought and subdued a good-size fish (in the colorful language of saltwater anglers, the term of art for the big guys is “gorilla blues”). The angler to my left, Alejandro Caamano, a restaurant cook from Puebla, Mexico, hauled in three fish that he celebrated with a Stella Artois. I was happy to join him when he kindly offered me one.

The action slowed, and we moved. Then we moved again. And again. And again. With each drop we caught a fish or two, but nothing like the mayhem earlier in the day. Captain Bob chugged over to Atlantic Highlands, where we went fishless, then back to Far Rockaway. Same deal. On these long crossings, the hum of the motors lulled many of us to sleep. Tired anglers who had risen before dawn lay in slumber, arms flung here and there, heads lolling, legs tucked and propped in every possible position.

At day’s end, we found ourselves just downtide of Sandy Hook. I took the rolling sea and clanging buoy as a sign that we would get into some good fish in the bottom of the ninth. True to form, we came upon a mother lode, equal to the early-morning bluefish blitzkrieg. Spirits were high and beers were hoisted as the mates went about scaling, gutting and filleting the day’s catch.

That evening I sliced up two fillets into four-ounce pieces, then dredged them in Wondra flour and salt so that they would not stick to the griddle (a crust-creating trick I learned from Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin). We served them as a first course at our cookout that evening. People often say they don’t care for bluefish because it is too “fishy.” But a fresh-caught blue is as clean tasting as striped bass or Dover sole. All it takes are some heat, foaming butter, flour and salt, and a bit of luck with the rod and reel.

Last edited by steamboat1; 07-19-2014 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 07-19-2014, 04:53 PM
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