Could everyone write one simple essay about something that once happened in Saltaire…that they saw or were a part of…and put it on one big website? Somebody should collect a lot of stories before we all forget. Otherwise it is like a line in “On The Beach” : The history of the war that now would never be written.” -(JO'H)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dialogue From Our "There Are More Ways Than One To Catch a Fish" Department

Top image 1952, Courtesy Billy Poteat

next four photos courtesy John Zaccaro Jr.

From Our "There Are More Ways Than One To Catch a Fish" Department
we get this query from one of America’s great fishing and hunting writers, Duncan Dobie:
Duncan asks:
Do you remember much about fishing on the dock? What kind of fish did we catch besides fluke and snappers? What kind of bait do you remember using for fluke? Snappers? Any particular instances that you remember?

Our response: OK, Duncan, we will ask our fans to enter their memories by clicking on “comments” below. Please enter your comments, fisherpeople.

Not all of us Saltaire38 authors were the greatest fishermen (there were lots of other things to do in ancient Saltaire) but here are a few starter thoughts:

Bait: killies and shiners and chopped clams from the warm waters of Clam Cove. It wasn't polluted by overdevelopment and ugly houses then. Or you could buy squid.

Lures: names like "Striper Swiper" for surf casting. See Larry Lynch here in 1959, courtesy Jeff Weinlandt:

Snappers: when running by the sluice in late July they would go for anything. Even little pieces of Wrigley's tin foil gum wrappers. Snappers in their feeding frenzies would bite more than mosquitoes after a summer rain.. Could turn a kid into a fish hog. Click here:
Snappers were on the top so you needed a bobber. A skinny bamboo pole would do well to snap up the line. I think Harper Lee fished for snappers. She had a pail and she would fish where the kids fished on the dock.

You ask about fluke, but you have a flounder here:

Fluke and flounder were flat and lived on the bottom so you had to go for them hook line and sinker. You might get by with a drop line. Probably any bait was okay since they eat any garbage that that dies and sinks to the bottom.



Then of course, if you didn't want to have a bad day fishing, you could always buy your stuff from Captain Baldwin:
(Courtesy Jeff Weinlandt)

But Captain Baldwin could be pretty tough if you crossed him.
Blowfish- My brother had an interesting method for catching blowfish. He would stand in the shallow waters of the Bay in front of Saltaire and wiggle his big toe. This invariably attracted blowfish, and just before they would bite his big toe, Chris would quickly reach into the water and grab the blowfish. This method worked very well until one blowfish bit his big toe, and if anyone remembers the front teeth on a blowfish, you could understand why he switched to other methods.


Growing up I fished off the dock. The fish I caught were mostly snappers, blowfish and sea robins. The west dock was better for the blowfish than the main dock, which produced the occasional fluke, bluefish or weak fish. Most of the fish were caught with shiners or killies from the bay, which we caught in nets. We also used frozen squid or clam bellies sold in the store. We used bamboo poles with bobbers so we rarely caught fish that spent their time on the bottom of the bay like stripped bass, weak fish or fluke. I do remember going out in the bay fishing with my father, but we only rarely went into the ocean.

We also used to rake the bulkhead for wagons of mussels, which are now non-existent due to the bulkhead material. We also went into clam pond for razor clams and chowder clams. Now you have to go into the back canals near Captree to find clams. We do that once or twice a year.

Now I spend my time offshore fishing, which is different than dock fishing. In the early fall and spring there are stripped bass. They tend to stay in colder water near the bottom. You can catch them on bunker or clam bellies, but usual the best way is to live line a bunker or eel. If you locate a bunker pod you can snag one and fish the snared bunker. You can also use a throw net to catch the bunker and then live line them. I digress to mention it is a thing of beauty to watch Jim McCann try and throw the catch net usually hooking himself or the boat in the process. That said Captain Lorenzetti has a rig design that works well for the stripped bass because they eat the bunker whole commencing with the head. I find there are some spots on the inside and outside of the inlet that produce stripped bass most of the time due to contours on the bottom.

As the summer warms up the water is still cold. That is time to head out to fish for shark. Shark fishing is similar to fluke fishing for you just sit and wait for a bite. I like leaving a chum bag hanging over the side after I have chummed by hand for a while. I also trail a mako magnet that emits an electronic sound that emulates a wounded porpoise. It helps attract the sharks. Then I set up a few lines and send them out with lure. The Japanese have very realistic lures that tend to do well. I like the Yo-zuri brand, but they are expensive. They also are razor sharp and tend to catch as many of the crew as the target fish. I tie a balloon to the line so from a distance you can see your lines action and also works like a bobber. The most fun to catch are the mako and I have had one jump over my boat. That will wake you up in the morning.

As the end of the summer approaches it is tuna time. The problem is you have to go out to the Gulf Stream, which is That is about a three hour run in my boat. The jet stream has significantly warmer water temperature and you see Sargasso weed floating up from the south. I troll tuna lures off the back of the boat usually in a w pattern. Green machines, daisy chain and other squid skirted lures usually work well. I use the outriggers for two lines each and a downrigger for a third on each side. That gets six lines in the water. When one hits it takes one person to fight the fish and two others to bring in the lines. Sometimes while you are bringing in a line you get another hit. In addition I run a porta planner down the center with a teaser to disturb the water.

My favorite tuna story was when I was fishing with Eric Lang and we hit a school of tuna. We were following a commercial boat that was picking up his lines and the fish were going wild. We had six lines in the water and there were two of us fishing. We had four hits at once. Eric reeled in one line and cut the other as I started reeling in the fish that went under the boat. Shortly after the line broke on the keel I grabbed another that went down near the transom. I was fighting that fish while Eric took one that went off the side. We booth landed our fish and brought them in. I jumped to the last line, but was having trouble landing it. The line would come in and go out and it reminded me of how marlins behave. After about twenty-five minutes of fighting this fish it came to the side of the boat. What I saw was a twenty-foot shark with the tuna in its mouth. It was wild and I continued to fish until my line broke while Eric ran for his shotgun. I have attached a picture of the fish from that day.

Fluke fishing is all about patience and cold beer. I bring the kids into the bay to fish for fluke, but since they have raised the legal catch size there are not many keeper left in the Great South Bay. You can go into the ocean and you will catch larger fluke. They are over the wrecks, the fish traps or other natural bottom attractions. You need to go three to five miles offshore and the water needs to be warmer. I find that if I go perpendicular to the beech out until I hit a certain temperature and then I start looking for sites that have worked for me before. The problem is it takes a lot of time looking for the fish. Then you can use live bait or synthetic bait. I find with the kids it is easier to use the synthetic bait. Then you can add some smelly jelly and the action is pretty good. The smelly jelly is similar in smell and texture to Beaver’s after-shave. Once the line is set you drop it to the bottom and move it up and down. Meanwhile you get comfortable and have a frosty.
I have attached four photos of Long Island fishing. The first is the one that did not get away. It is the humpback whale that landed on our shore in front of Saltaire in 2004. Most do not know that I hooked the fish and after an epic battle from the surf reeled in the beast. It was 50 feet long and 80,000 pounds. You can put that photo next to Duncan’s little flounder photo.

The second photo was last year’s winning fish in the Yacht Club tournament. Rumor has it that Scott caught the fish but the truth is far from that. I baited Scott’s hook with a live eel and then went up to the captain’s chair for some shuteye. I was awoken by Jim yelling” fish on.”. Scott handed the rod to Jim, who handed it to me. Twenty minutes later on 20 lb test I landed the 35lb fish. It took the line out four times. Then Jim and John together pulled the fish up with the net. Scott took the fish out by the tail and claimed the catch.
The last two photos are from tuna trips I mentioned above.

--John Zaccaro Jr.

Billy Poteat chimes in here with lots of cool pictures: All pix here courtesy Billy Poteat.

year: 1952

Fishing -- great memories, thanks for spurring them

some crabs also, Chico (grandfather) loved them

interesting as I look at these old pics how often the water tower and the lighthouse would "sneak" in the pics

and how bout that Rebel flag!!!!!!!

got no clue about that old truck on the beach as far as what its story was

That's Dad behind me in the crab pic.

Editor's Note: We ask you all: what do you recall about how to fish in Saltaire? Who has some pictures?

Blue claw crabs: numerous when you were there in the 1950’s, Duncan. A barefoot kid like seven year old Allen Aherne could be seen walking along the edge of the bay bulkheads with a net on a pole. He could fill up a bucket with blue claws before breakfast.
Or maybe you would prefer going out on the dock at night and watch the blue claws swim backwards under the light from the street lights and you could scoop them up with your net.

...But really, Duncan, you can’t return to that place. Only crabs can swim backwards. You are not a crab.

“for yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab you could go backward.”

---Hamlet to Polonius, Act 2 Scene 2.


1 comment:

BEAVER said...

I've always enjoyed that picture of Larry Lynch holding what had to be the World's Longest Surf Casting rod. Though I do remember seeing that rod and reel mounted over Granma' Lynch's fireplace numerous times, oh, so many years ago.