I stole this photo from the Gothamist web site, where they had a story about a “mystery fish” washing ashore on the East River, this time near the Brooklyn Bridge. As they are wont to do, web sites like this love the hyperbole and potential hype that go along with any unusual fish that comes from New York waters (see how quickly they all jumped on the “Frankenfish” headlines back in May when the DEC suspected northern snakeheads might be in the Harlem Meer), and I’m no biologist, but come on. It’s obvious from one look at the scales on the fish’s back that it’s a sturgeon. Still, they had to include this quote: “‘We saw about 30 or 40 people standing by the railing, and 2 people had jumped over the railing. We walked up and saw this very large fish. It must be 5 feet long and has some very strange markings. I would really appreciate it if your readers can help identify this.’ He estimates that hundreds of New Yorkers probably saw this dead fish last night [emphasis theirs (Gothamist)].” Sites like Gothamist and Huffington Post also like to add in italics and bolded majuscules to make sure readers understand their own take on emphasis and interpretation of scale. Hundreds they say, in New York City, a city of over 8 million. If they had said tens of thousands, or even thousands of people saw this thing, then one might say, “Hey, that’s kind of a lot of people.” Hundreds, I mean on any given street hundreds of tourists might see some guy trying to take a furtive shit in a bush somewhere. It’s just part of the tabloid nature of these sites and their writers that annoys me. Honestly, I hate to be a fish snob or whatever, but they probably would have been better off rewriting their headline like this: “New Yorkers ‘Dumb’founded by Mystery Fish” because this is no East River monster that they tried to hype up last year, even though that was clearly a dead, bloated dog. I know I posted that dead, half rotten, half frozen albie in January, but that was a dead half-frozen, half-rotten fish. The more interesting question in this particular case would be, to me, anyway, where did this sturgeon come from? There’s a few waterways off the Hudson that have sturgeon in them, my guess would be it was dead, got pulled out with the outgoing tide into the Harbor, then pushed ashore during the incoming. That’s just a guess.
Seriously though, how can people be that ignorant of nature? It kind of reminded me of these episodes of the show River Monsters with Jeremy Wade, when Wade tries to identify a “monster” that’s completely fucking obvious. “It’s a lamprey, Jeremy. It’s a fucking sea lamprey.” Or, “It’s a Greenland shark, Jeremy. Shut up. You just ate hakarl. In Iceland. Stop pretending like it’s something weird. Admit that it’s the Icelandic national dish.” (An aside: his description of eating hakarl was pretty damn close to my own.) I will say I generally like most of the episodes of River Monsters, and will readily admit that Jeremy Wade pretty much has my dream job of traveling around the world, interviewing people, catching rare and awesome fish, but some of these later shows I totally see through. Like I can see that really instead of cutting to the chase, he’d rather film himself fly fishing the shallows for trout and then saying something like, “Well, this must not be it. This isn’t what I’m looking for.” It’s obvious that his “mystery case” is pretty thin, and really he just wants to kick back and fish at his own leisure.
Speaking of fishing at one’s leisure, we went back to the beach last Saturday for a day of drinking and deadsticking. I’m not a bait guy, as I usually protest, but there’s something to be said for hanging out on the beach, drinking beer, and waiting for a bite in the summertime. This time it was Mr. Genoski, his friend Joel (whom Genoski hilariously reminded me once abandoned all his gear on the Green Street pier one night during the first or second derby), and myself. Everyone got into fish, which was nice. A few bluefish here, a few short bass there, another big cow-nosed ray, a few skates, a short fluke… it was a good time. We also coined the term “The Russian Release,” which most of you have probably seen, after watching a couple guys down the beach from us for a few hours. It involves catching a short fish (bass usually), having someone watching you who knows it’s a short, wanting to keep it but under scrutiny you must toss it back, and with much disgust send it ass over elbow back into the water, like a football kicked wildly right of the goalposts. I ended up keeping a bluefish, which happened to be the first fish I’ve kept for myself in New York, and the first fish in I-don’t-remember-how-long that I’ve had to filet.
I ended up doing a hack job on one filet, but the second one came about pretty nice. I mixed up some blackening seasoning and cooked up some duck fat potatoes, sauteed spinach, and some Old Bay corn on the cob and invited a couple friends over. We listened (or I did at least) to a bunch of old cassettes and it was a pretty good night to a good day.
Fall is coming up soon. I may be deadsticking at the end of summer, but believe me I’ll be ready come Fall. The bag is pretty much set, falling apart (NQ Aquaskinz bags are shit; upgrade to Hunter Pro or look elsewhere, IMO), but still hanging in there—this will probably be the last season for that bag. I have my eyes on a new, dedicated surf rod, but I’m sure what I have now will do just fine. New toys, new gear. Anyone stoked on new stuff for this season? Let me know in the comments.