One of my favorite things to do growing up in Brooklyn was to go fishing in Jamaica Bay. My parents, having grown up in a fishing village, saw it as a way to keep me busy and a way to bring home some food to last us for a week or two. My family did not believe in the “catch and release” concept, unless you count the numerous undersize Striped Bass we let go in the 80s. Yes, I ate the fish we caught and I still have all 10 toes and have grown used to my webbed feet.
The fish here was a lot different than Istra so my family had to adapt. There were no Sardines, Branzino, Cuttlefish or Scorpion fish. Instead we had Porgy, Blackfish, Flounder and Bluefish. Out of all of these fish Bluefish was the one my family gravitated towards. Its flesh reminded them of the oily sardines and mackerel they grew up on and reacted the same way to cooking. On top of that it was one hell of a fish to catch especially when in the 10-18 lb range. Now we only caught one every other time we went out from Canarsie Pier. But once we bought a 17 foot Bayliner we were trolling up and down Jamaica Bay and bagging them like no tomorrow and giving them out to our family every weekend.
It was always a rite of passage to catch the first one of each season, usually around mid May. In the past three years I have re-ignited that rite and caught one each year surf fishing. This year I figured I would beat the chase and get on a boat. So on May 1st, the one year anniversary of my quitting smoking after 23 years, I decided the celebrate by heading out of Sheepshead Bay. I was reliving the tradition my dad taught me feeling the sea wind in my hair as we headed out to Breezy Point. Ahead of us a swarm of seagulls right over a slew of Bunker with Bluefish underneath for sure. And just like when he first took me out there when I was 8 years old I caught my first Bluefish of the season. A nice 13 lb one hitting the same jig I used 30 years ago, thanks Dad for the fish.