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Long Island fishing community rallies for veterans

A fisherman waits for at catch by a

A fisherman waits for at catch by a Bluefish or Striped Bass at the 2011 Jones Beach Classic fishing tournament. (Nov. 5, 2011) Photo Credit: Alexi Knock

Last weekend was a fun one for anglers in the eighth annual Montauk "Hook & Slice" fundraising fishing and golf tournament hosted at the Montauk Lake Club. The event, which has raised more than $100,000 to date for military charities that aid injured veterans and their families, donated the majority of this year's proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorsinaction.org) the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation (wallstreetwarfighters.org) and The Mission Continues (missioncontinues.org).

In years past, this tourney had participants head out aboard Montauk's charter boat fleet. This time, however, roughly 40 veterans climbed aboard Capt. Ed Beneduci's open boat, Montauk Star. Under the tutelage of a fine and attentive crew, some caught their first fish and everyone hammered a mix of sea bass, scup and small blues.

There was a point, however, when just for a second, the niceties looked as if they might come to an abrupt end. During one especially productive drift, the CT open boat Black Hawk pulled close to our starboard side. Just as murmurs about "spot mugging" began to build among our fares, the Black Hawk's skipper announced over his loudspeaker that his passengers and crew wished to recognize the heroes aboard our vessel -- which they did by lining the rail, putting down their fishing rods and providing an extended standing ovation before heading off on a drift of their own.

Nor was that the only class act of the weekend extended by local anglers. Later that same evening, as veteran Jeremy Way of Malone, New York, and I were wading Fort Pond, we crossed paths with an angler named Matt. "Any luck yet?" he asked. When we responded in the negative, he invited us aboard his bass boat to work the eastern shore.

The following day, I took Way to Kenneys Beach in Southold to try for blues, but a freshening 25-knot wind soon overmatched our bottom rigs. Seeing our predicament, surf regular Dan, from Bethpage, insisted we use his heavy pyramid sinkers and home-tied rigs. "Keep 'em," he said with a smile. "It's my pleasure."

Untold numbers of similar acts of respect and kindness between anglers occur every day. This past weekend, however, they lined up in a special way that could not be ignored and made me more proud and appreciative than ever to be part of our local fishing fraternity.

Surf action picks upWhile boating anglers have cursed the strong winds keeping them from blackfish, blues, stripers, sea bass and false albacore since midweek, the surf fishing crowd has welcomed a stirring of the waters. When stiff winds from the north blow for several consecutive days, bass, blues and albies often light up the suds.

As the breezes wind down this weekend, expect the surf action to rally along ocean beaches adjacent to inlets, and on the North Fork, where the blues and albies showed in force at first light throughout the week. Tins and cut bunker have ruled the surf so far, but a drop in temperature anytime soon should spur serious surface action.

Those looking to upgrade surf fishing gear would do well to stop by J & H Tackle in Oakdale on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. That's when reps from Van Staal and Century Rods will be providing demos on how to use the latest surf fishing gear.

Email: outdoortom@

optonline.net

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