Fishing in Public

by "Tackle Box" Billy Kelley

Thompson’s Point Blues

Hey folks! I know I usually start with some comments about the weather, but it’s getting kind of repetitious, ain’t it? I mean, the weather’s so weird lately. Now I say it’s Indian Summer, but the weather man says technically it’s not. I don’t care — it’s Indian Summer to me.

The weather does matter with the fish. I really do believe the heat has had some impact on the fish this year. I’m not sure what effect though. It did start out a great season, but things have sort of flip-flopped. I’ve got some folks telling me they’re killing the stripers and some folks not. Myself, I done real good with macks. At least until some people started feeding the seals. Then it was “party’s over.”

I ended up spending far too much time on the trestle. The wrong end, too. I did discover a new fishing hole, the Ocean Gateway pier. It’s a nice spot, but it’s only great for me till the ship comes in. I’m kind of funny like that. When I’m fishing on the trestle I will always try to bring in a fish when the narrow-track train is pulling up. I’ve even stalled reeling in my fish until the crowd disembarks and starts watching me. I guess I help ’em get their 10 bucks’ worth.

However much I enjoy pulling a fish out for the tourists at the trestle, I don’t care so much to fish in front of the folks at Ocean Gateway. Too up-close and personal for me. And boy, what a crowd when them ships dock! I know they love to gawk and talk to me while I’m trying to fish, but as I say, too much of a crowd.

Now, if you want solitude, I can show you solitude. That would be at Thompson’s Point. I hadn’t been down Thompson’s in quite some time, but I was thinking about it. I figured I maybe better scoot on down while I still can. The papers are hinting that it could very well be my last chance to fish down there.

Once upon a time Thompson’s was a great place for nabbing stripers and blues. Now there’s something I ain’t seen in a while: bluefish. Boy, at one time they were King of the Hill around here. Now you can’t even buy one.

I got no idea at all what happened to the blues. Anybody catch one lately? Man, folks used to just love fishing them, mostly because they put up one hell of a fight.

Myself, I never cared much for ’em. They got this little spike thing on their backs, and I got a real bad case of fish poison on my finger. Come close to getting the damn finger amputated. Got lucky though — bought some pills that cost me an arm and a leg and got cured, thank heavens. They’d be calling me Stumpy right now.

Plus, it’s real tricky cooking the bastards. In my mind, there’s only two ways to cook a blue. One: cook as soon as possible, preferably within six hours, max. Right on the grill. Toss on ’em whatever seasoning you happen to enjoy, and do it as quick as you can. Now that’s tasty.

But what I really like is number two. You’ve got to have a smoker. Blues are made to be smoked. How long the smoking time is is so variable that I can’t recommend one — you know, depends on what wood you use, what temperature, different stuff. Just taste it as you go. Yum, yum.

The last bluefish I did catch was at Thompson’s Point, so many years ago I can’t remember when. Do you know where Thompson’s Point is? I’ll tell you. It’s on that spit of land the railroad station sits on. You just keep walking as far as you can go till your feet start getting wet.

Quite a while ago there used to be some kind of stuff going on there. There was a box factory, Ellis Paperboard, which I worked in, and a concrete company (where I was invited to work at). Now it’s kind of degenerated to be some kind of storage place for large things. But like I say: solitude.

I was all alone except for a couple of guys came on over, I do believe to check me out, make sure I wasn’t doing mischief. Maybe they owned some of the stuff they got stored: a humongous pile of shitty mixed sawdust, highway construction stuff. They were nice enough guys. We yakked it up for a few.

I didn’t get a bite. It was close to the tide change — could be why — but the water was all murky. I’d forgotten how muddy it gets out there, and what happened was my reefer died on me, causing me to lose all my bait. I can’t jig in water I can’t see through — Christ, who knows what I’d be whacking? So I definitely had the wrong kind of junk on the end of the line.

Great time to be had though. There’s like this bench thing you can sit on, cast your line and not worry about a thing. Just the spot to spend a nice slow Sunday morning. How long it’ll be that way is anyone’s guess.