September 27, 2021
I read recently that this inlet was cut during the Hurricane of 1938 along with Shinnecock and a number of others. I guess before then the Great South Bay was like a lake. If the hurricane didn’t do it, man would certainly have done it himself at some point as the water flushes the Bay, opens it to ocean fish and the ocean to fishers.
The sun rises at 6:45 and I left the house well before then so I got to watch it’s rise in the side view mirror as I cruised Ocean Parkway west, and then caught this view at the boat ramp showing one of man’s newest interventions.
The boat is an open center console fully outfitted for fishing. Paul is working on his captain’s license so he can use it to take out sports. He guides professionally on fresh water but the salt adds some risks and complexities (and costs) so he is doing it the right way, taking a course and all. In the meanwhile he is taking friends like me out to practice his guide techniques. He already knows the water. I asked him if he wants me to be cranky so he can get the feel of an actual customer. LOL.
Check out all that he offers at RiverBayOutfitters.com.
The tide was low at 6 am but with the amount of water and the size of the Bay it takes a while for it to finish and reverse. We take a tour while we wait, looking all the while for birds and bait. As we cruise past the islands and mud flats I am surprised to see so many cabins still on them and in good condition. A while ago I thought they banned rebuilding them and Sandy had to clean what was left of them out. Paul tells me they changed the law and if it is 50% or less damaged you can repair. Also that there are some private islands, like the one we are passing with houses in good repair on them, that the law does not apply to. All these abodes are without fresh water or electricity and can only be reached by boat.
We head east and I see the waterfront development which reminds me of a lava flow that destroyed everything in its path. Scott Lewis’ family moved to one of these back in the mid 1960’s and it was a thrill to go there and sail his Cottontail from their dock. We also water skied and found out where the mud flats were the hard way. Back then there was still plenty of marsh to make it beautiful and the Bay healthy. Now it’s a wall of ugly from the water although the views from within the homes must be spectacular.
We go as far as Green Island where we find the beach lined with hopeful fishers looking more for dinner than sport. On the way back we begin to see birds and bait and by the time we get to the inlet there is a mini blitz of something right in front of us. They move so fast I figured they were Albies and went for my bag to get a more appropriate lure – by the way, I am using a spinning rod although Paul has a few fly rods ready if I get the urge to make this harder than it has to be.
“Where is the bag?” I ask and he doesn’t remember me bringing one. Nuts! We go back to the dock hoping it is there or in the car. When passing the fishing pier a fellow has one of the same color by his side. Hmmm. Turns out I left it in the car and we are back in the inlet within a few minutes.
I put on an epoxy anchovy and Paul heads out to find the fish. The surf is relatively calm but the wind is whipping it up to make the ride interesting. We find another pod and see they are Blues. I put on a Deadly Dick just in case there are some Albies around as well. It catches a few Blues as Paul hooks up on the fly rod.
Others join us and the “run and gun” armada moves back and forth hoping to catch the blitz. We get lucky a few times and have our share of drag pulling fish. As the tide comes up the action slows and we find Roy, Mike and Kenny who just came out. Good to see them all.
A little fluking on the inside and our day is done.
Fish count? Well I guess 4 – 6 Blues, 3 – 4 fluke, and a couple of Sea Robins but being on the water is what really counts. Tasting the salt spray, watching as the marsh grass turns that autumnal gold is what really mattered, enhanced by the company of a good friend.