Jerry Zezima, a Newsday assistant editor who writes a nationally syndicated humor column for his hometown paper, The
If legendary composer George Gershwin had also been a fisherman, one of his greatest works might have been "Porgy and Bass."
I couldn't get the tune out of my otherwise empty head recently as I boarded the Osprey V, a charter boat out of Port Jefferson, for an afternoon of fishing for -- you guessed it -- porgy and bass.
What wasn't playing, in either my head or on board, was the theme from "Gilligan's Island," which would have been appropriate because the Osprey V is a 65-foot Gillikin.
"Sometimes we play it as people are boarding," said Capt. Amanda Peterson, "although we're not going out on a three-hour tour. It's four hours. And we won't strand you on an island."
"If the island had palm trees, I wouldn't mind," I said.
"Neither would I," said Capt. Amanda. "But we're not going that far out."
We were, in fact, going only a few miles, to the Stratford (Conn.) Shoal Light in the middle of Long Island Sound, prime grounds (or, rather, waters) for the aforementioned fish.
"If I catch a lot of them," I told Capt. Amanda, "it would be a fluke."
"We're not going for fluke," she responded. "But you might catch a bluefish."
Capt. Amanda, whose father, Capt. Stew Cash, runs the business (ospreyfishing.com), recently married Capt. James Peterson, who was officially piloting the boat on that day's excursion.
"I'm along for the ride," said Capt. Amanda. "And to help you catch some fish."
I needed all the help I could get because it had been years since I last went fishing. I used to go with my father when I was a kid. Once, when I wasn't with him, he came back with a 41-pound striped bass.
"That's huge," said Capt. James. "If you caught one that size today, you'd have a real fish story."
Capt. James should know because he once caught an 873-pound tuna off the coast of Nantucket, Mass.
"It was dressed," he said.
"In a bathing suit?" I inquired.
"No," Capt. James replied. "I mean, the head and tail had been cut off. Originally, it weighed about 1,000 pounds."
"That's huge," I said. "You have a real fish story."
I hoped to have one, too, and got off to a great start. Capt. Amanda used clams to bait both hooks on my fishing pole. About 10 seconds after I cast out, I felt a tug.
"You have a fish!" Capt. Amanda exclaimed. As I reeled in, she added, "Two fish!"
On one hook was a porgy; on the other was a bass. The sea bass was puny, so Capt. Amanda threw it back, but the porgy, which measured 13 inches, three more than regulation size, was a keeper. So I kept it.
Good thing I did because I didn't catch another fish all day. Still, I had a fabulous time. I watched as the youngest fisherman on board, Kristian Tabala, 4, with the help of his dad, Danny, reeled in a porgy that was bigger than mine.
"I'm gonna name him Bob," Kristian said.
"He's bobbing in the bucket, so it fits," I said. "What are you going to name the next fish you catch?"
Kristian thought for a moment and replied, "Rob."
The biggest catch of the day was a 2-foot-long bluefish, hauled in by Vietnam veteran Chris Martinez, 69, the oldest of the 26 passengers. I was standing about five feet away.
"It could have been you," Chris said.
"On the hook?" I wondered.
"Then we would have had to cut off your head and tail," said Capt. James.
As the Osprey V headed back, deck hand Travis MacRae did the same to my porgy. When he was finished, I had two nice fillets to share with my wife, Sue, for dinner. They were delicious.
If only I had been standing five feet to my left, in Chris Martinez's spot, I'd be humming another Gershwin tune: "Rhapsody in Bluefish."