It was a cold night for alligators and the hunters of fish but somehow we prevailed through the sixth Brooklyn Fishing Derby. The fishing was tough, the wind unforgiving, the bunker plentiful, and the spirits high, and in the end newcomer Alex Reh caught what might have been the only bass of the derby, a 26″ schoolie up in Greenpoint. A short, but a healthy looking fish, nonetheless. The news for the rest of the weekend went quiet, with only crabs tearing up my fresh bunker and stories of dedicated souls coming up empty. As people started to trickle in to Dream, the mood slowly began to shift while the grills started smoking and beer started flowing. A HUGE thanks to Barbara, Robert, and the rest of the crew at Dream for making this happen, by the way. I’m always impressed at how they hold it down while I’m getting drunk and forgetting to do things. Once we managed to clear Dream of all the smoke blowing in from the backyard, I started getting really hungry watching Jacques from Palo Santo pull out his bag of magic tricks.
Shawn Hu brought his wife and daughter and a big sack of sugar cane to chew on while we waited for the masters of the grills to do their thing. A couple guys from Greenpoint Fish & Lobster brought more fresh fish and mussels. Robin and Altay sent us pictures of the tog stock cooking on their stove they’d soon be bringing to Dream. Not to be outdone, Ben started it off with spicy lobster and fish sausages, salmon filets, salmon burgers, whole shrimp skewers, and Chilean sea bass—all of which I believe was donated by The Lobster Place. I could feel people start to get stoked as the smells coming off the grills got us salivating. I, like most everyone else here, spent most of the weekend wet and freezing and stressing out with little to show for it, but now it was becoming clear again what was the true reward. We swapped fishing stories, advice,
fishing spots, beers, laughs… It was all coming together.
These guys came from Germany to fish and ended up one snagged line short of possibly winning the derby. We had a nice mix of new faces and familiar ones, but we were missing out on some KEY members, to which I will call out Dave “It’s noon o’clock somewhere” Cole—who was not only too drunk to keep fishing Saturday, but too hungover to come to the party Sunday, Jane “I’m married now” Borock, Thomas “I got a kid now” Genoski, Maria “I haven’t fished in years” H., and James “I got an adult life now” Potter. I’m bummed you guys missed it, and you now have to listen to me give you shit for it for another year. No matter, we soldiered on through the beers and the evening. A guy named Kyle graced us with some incredible, homemade duck jerky, which reminds me that two-time champion Jan Gorz caught a Canadian goose on n5th an hour before the derby close. Jacques prepped awesome bluefish tacos, and Robin and Altay arrived with their Carribean fish “tea.” That Chilean sea bass made a quick appearance and quicker disappearance, and despite my ethical qualms with eating this fish, I swear if you could glaze a stick of butter with brown sugar and honey, that would have been this fish. The award ceremony was short and sweet, with John Ruffino handing over the cup to Alex Reh, who stood in triumph over us lesser fishermen.
Somehow I managed to not get blackout drunk at this year’s closing party, although no one will let me forget the time I thought I got roofied at The Woods. The 2014 Derby was over, and I think we have a lot of work to do for next year, but somehow the closing party always gets people together and makes all the work, disorganization and scrambling worth it ten times over. A big Ilya Bryzgalov humongous Thank You goes to everyone who came out for this year’s derby, our sponsors—ACME Smoked Fish, Greenpoint Fish and Lobster, The Lobster Place, Brooklyn Kitchen, Jacques at Palo Santo, and, of course, everyone at Dream. We couldn’t have done it without all of you.
But the fishing’s not over yet; I’m hoping to squeeze in a few more trips before the weather goes full on winter, to Breezy, to Montauk, to wherever I can go. Robin, by the way, is gauging interest in a blackfish trip on the Ocean Eagle out of Sheepshead Bay before the season is done. Contact me if you’re interested and we can set a day for a trip.
[most pictures taken by Geralyn Shukwit]