Preacher sent me an email today telling me how sick he was of looking at the May Day post, and frankly, so am I. It’s been tough finding time to post since I got back from Europe. The day I left I became part-owner of the company where I’ve worked for the last six years, and, knowing that, it’s pushed me more to focus on the future of my writing/journalism life—which has nothing to do with where I work. In between that, life’s obligations take their time as well, and even though I’m not currently in a relationship, which I could only imagine would siphon away at the free time I have to get my life in order, and it’s tough to do all the things I love. However, I’ve made a few trips out to fish in the last month—nothing caught of significance, but there were some cool stories along the way.
A few weeks ago Dave Cole and I went out to the Breezy Point jetty. It was the first time I’d been there in over a year and I still didn’t have the parking permit yet, but I decided to just go for it and hope no rangers showed up. Dave and I fished on and off in May, including an ill-fated rendezvous in Montauk in which me, Dave, and two of his friends dragged ass around the point and the northside hungover and saw exactly no one for hours. I showed up about an hour after they did, and after gearing up I walked down the path to the lighthouse and saw Dave and one of his buddies walking back to the parking lot. Both of them looked like they were ready to go home. If it were not for guilt, I’m pretty sure they would have just slept in their car. Back in NYC, we pulled into the Breezy lot at 200-something street, got the waders on, and geared up just in time for the ranger to pull up and ask to see our permit. When we said we didn’t have one, the ranger informed us of the rules.
“Well, how much is the fine?” Dave said.
“$60,” was the reply. We resigned ourselves to the ticket rather than leave.
Here’s Dave getting ready to walk the access road out to the beach. There was a cool breeze and surprisingly few bugs. I did spot this in the bush though.
We also ran into the ranger again, who now knew for certain we’d given the state the middle finger to their rules and would take our chances anyway. “Wish us good luck,” Dave said as he drove past.
“Good luck,” he said.
We didn’t have any luck. We did walk past a bait guy coming in from the front with a garbage bag full of fish. “This is some heavy shit,” he said as we walked past. Judging from the amount of dogfish and skates laid to waste on the backside of the jetty, I guess it could have been one of those. I didn’t see anyone else catching either. Dave got really thirsty so we packed it in after a couple hours of Nothing Much Happening. Back at the lot I fully expected to see an orange envelope on my windshield, but by some miracle there was nothing. Perhaps the ranger fell victim to the Dave Cole Charm, or perhaps he was too lazy to get out of his truck and instead scheduled my parking violation to arrive by mail. We celebrated our victory, however fleeting it may be, by going to the only pub we knew in town to quench Dave’s thirst. We met a crazy drunk and a cool bartender there who told us stories of being in town during Sandy. One of the most significant things he demonstrated was the way the water came ashore this time. “We’ve had floods here before. Lots of them. But all the time, even the last time [pre-Sandy] the water would just come in like this,” he said, holding out both hands palm down and slowly lifting them. “But this one, Sandy, it came in like this,” pushing his hands forcefully forward, kind of like he probably wished he could with the crazy drunk and introduce him to the other side of the door. We finished our beer, said our thanks, and got back on the road. Just past the guard station I spied something on the road and swerved to the side and stopped. I ran back about 20 feet and picked up a Tica TC2 surf rod with a Shimano reel. Looking at the knots and setup I could tell this person knew his/her stuff. I tossed it in the back and drove back to Brooklyn.
That night I posted a Lost and Found ad on a surf-fishing forum that pretty much everyone knows. A few days later I got a message, “That rod is my friend’s I’m pretty sure. Call him at this number.” So I called him, and sure enough, it belonged to him. He told me he was going home and was taking a piss and left his rod on the roof. As everyone who’s fished in Breezy knows, the speed limit in town is like 20mph, but once you get past the guard station you can hit the gas. So that’s where it fell, and that’s where we found it. This guy, Donnie is his name, had these great expressions he kept tossing out in between f-bombs. “Who’s better than you?” in a big, gregarious voice. “I love that fucking rod,” he said. We made plans to meet up that evening after work. He offered me a custom rod that was sitting around collecting dust, but I’m already pretty good on gear. He gave me a lot of info on fishing the area and was extremely grateful. “Anything I can do for you, man, just give me a call,” he said before leaving.
The next day I took him up on the offer. Donnie met Dave and I in a parking lot at Floyd Bennett Field that Saturday. In his truck he had a bag of tow chains, a shovel, a piece of wood, and a cardboard box with a portable toilet in it. I needed this stuff to get the 4WD permit to drive on the beach in the fall. Donny kept talking to us like we were the sons he didn’t have. “Don’t get fucking stuck! I’ll tell you that much! Keep your foot off the fucking gas! If you get stuck don’t hit the fucking gas! Keep it under 1500 RPMs! If you get stuck call me!” This went on and on after the financial transaction at the ranger station and I owe Donny for hooking it up. Then, he took us on a tour of Floyd Bennett Field, showing us where to fish, where the channels and pockets were, where the fish like to cruise on this tide, how to fish this spot at this tide. Invaluable type stuff. We followed him over the bridge and he showed us a bunch of other spots and introduced us to guys who work for the parks department. More invaluable advice and a few secrets.
Here he is giving us some sage advice on how to catch sharks. “Don’t grab the fucking tail!” was probably the most important part.
After some lunch we headed to the jetty. Donnie introduced us to a couple of other guys along the way as we trudged our way to the rocks. The tide was very low, we’d arrived at a bad hour and would have to wait a few hours for the fishing to pick up.
Here’s Dave and another dude Dave getting to know each other on the long walk. For some dumb reason three of us didn’t bring Korkers, so we stayed in the middle of the jetty. Donnie picked up a sea robin, while I started getting hits on a A17 with a white tail. I got a small fluke and a cocktail blue before one bit the tail off. I tried a green tail but nada. I switched to a 1 1/4oz Kastmaster and listened to Donnie’s stories, which were a lot of fun to hear. He did say, “I knew you didn’t have a girlfriend because of how you fish.” I wonder if other people can see the same thing, haha. Dave Cole worked his patented sidearm cast, which made me give him a wide, wide, berth. I picked up a couple more blues while birds worked the end. A few guys went out there but didn’t see much of size coming back in. The tide was coming in big and most people stayed behind “the widow’s peak,” as Donnie called it, but as evening draped around us, a couple crazy locals in rubber boots and shorts Sherpa’d their way to the end despite the waves crashing over the jetty. We went back to the lot because Dave was getting thirsty (We have to get someone to donate a water bottle with a caribiner or something so he can pop it on his plug bag.). We said our goodbyes and exchanged numbers and hope to see Donnie again soon.
A few days later I went back to Breezy. This was a Monday and the weather was shit: rain, storms, possible lightning. I decided to try out the “worse the weather, the better the fishing” theory. I walked out in the pelting rain and saw the same refrigerator on the beach as I saw a few days before. I saw a guy pull in a schoolie off the bay side, and another guy fly fishing. It was not Peter Laurelli, to some disappointment. I worked the bay side and the back jetty but wasn’t getting anything so I kept walking as the fog rolled in. I didn’t see a single other person on my way there, which was a little creepy. The tide was still coming in and I walked to the jetty in black fog with water almost up over the rocks. At one point on the jetty I turned around to see the water had made a little creek behind me from the ocean to the bay. No fish, no people, no light except for my headlamp, the trickling sound of the black water rising beneath and behind me. Did I mention I suck at swimming? I decided to walk back and work the back end of the jetty near slack tide. That’s when I found ANOTHER FUCKING FISHING ROD. This one was in the wash and I almost stepped on it. The reel was full of sand and I figured it was useless and thought to jettison it, but considering the success of reuniting the last owner with his rod, I decided to keep it and post another Lost & Found. Nobody ever claimed it, though.