What About Bob?-The Midnight Rambler by John W. Papciak

What About Bob?

The Midnight Rambler

John W. Papciak

You know what they say, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different outcome.”

Well, that’s about how I felt two weeks ago, when I was visiting Egypt Beach in East Hampton on the East End of Long Island.

If you’ve been fishing reasonably hard this fall you already know – in many places – it’s been very hard to scare up a few fish. Those gravy years in the late 90s and early 00s, with 20, 30 or ever 40 fish outings are now a distant memory. That’s not to say some of you (and even me once in a while) are not finding fish – but we’ve gone on and on in blogs and articles worrying about where all the fish have gone.

Sure, sure, we might have a good year class or two coming up. Just maybe. But it doesn’t make it any easier being on the beach in Montauk, and seeing school after school of adult bunker go by, but with not so much on them – and certainly not enough to push the bunker toward the beach and create the blitz conditions that we almost took for granted more than a decade ago.

Zeno had a really good story he shared at one of the bass hearings last year on Long Island. I dunno, I guess he gives the fish names, you’ll have to ask him about this. He called this fish Bob.

What about Bob?

Well Bob was a striped bass that Zeno could always find, almost like that time tested and trusted friend. Didn’t matter what else was going on, up and down the beach, as the season went along. Sometimes all the other fish were gone, but he could always count on Bob, or a small handful of fish just like Bob, at some very specific places.

OK, I’ll admit I never named my fish, but I also had those reliable places.

But just like Zeno, over the past few years in particular, those fish are just not there. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll keep fishing for them, but I’ve more or less gotten used to the fact that Bob is just not around like he used to be.

Anyway, let’s get back to Egypt Beach.22492325622_b0bc22befd_k

This is usually at the western end of my jurisdiction, and one of the last places where I can use my East Hampton beach driving permit.

Lotta good memories here, especially during those epic years with the peanut bunker.

It’s right by the hoighty-toighty Maidstone Club. That’s the golf club where even Bill Clinton was not allowed a tee time (you’ll have to Google the tabloids to get the full dirt on that).22133092731_8598052b29_k

Anyway, two weeks ago, the Bonackers were at it again. Remember Haul Seines have been outlawed in New York, but not the beach launching of gill nets. Turns out the Bonackers were following the schools of bunker, just like any good fisherman should. And when they saw some hints of activity in the way of predators on one of the schools, they set a net around it that must have gone out the better part of a mile. You would think they would have netted the motherload of cow bass – that would certainly have been the case 15 years ago – but on this set, pretty much all they got was a big pile of bluefish. You might wonder exactly how many fish, and what sizes, are out there. Well this will tell you all you need to know.22133136661_c01092e810_k

Was kinda sad to be honest. But I wasn’t only disturbed by the dead fish now rotting in the sun. Was just as sad for the guys doing the netting. Just all this effort, and all this equipment, and all they will get is (reportedly) is 90 cents a pound for that small portion that will make it to the market in reasonably decent shape. The rest I’m not even sure will be eligible for catfood.

Just imagine how many fishermen –especially surfcasters – who would have given half the bills in their wallet to tangle with these fish on an otherwise dead weekend afternoon.

It’s just one more reminder of how greedy we’ve been, and how the recreationals are just as guilty of this as any commercial.22110478412_44bb257541_k (1)

We can only hope those more recent year classes do make it out of bay, and into the coastal stock (they call that process “recruitment”).

Let’s hope so – we humans appear to be incapable of knowing when to cut back when Bob is nowhere to be found.

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12 comments on “What About Bob?-The Midnight Rambler by John W. Papciak

  1. Scott Hayes

    John good passage . You nailed it we have all been greedy , took everything I had not to laugh in a Montauk “sharpies” face when he complained about the lack of quality fish in recent years, while for years he’s been dragging every cow to the scales for a photo and bragging rights . You reap what you sow ! No excuses anymore for killing these cows every phone has a camera ! By the way if you see “Bob ” let him know I’m looking for him .

  2. Richard Fuchs AKA Woodwker99

    This is a sad statement on everyone that has a 1@32 sticker on their truck.
    I can see dragging a fish to the scale if you think its your personal best. But please I lived fishing through the 80’s where Bass were a no-no to keep. This is where we are headed again if we don’t change our ways.
    These pictures made me ill. for more than the waste of fish.
    If we are not careful, catching that 5 lb sea robin will become our trophy fish.

  3. Scott Cunningham

    I’m sure the technique between the two is quite varied, but how exactly is this any different from a haul seine in the end result?

  4. Ryan D

    I cant find bob anywhere I have 2 measly fish this fall. im from jersey and fish lbi I never really caught big but I would catch but the past few years have been bad. Some say the run hasn’t started beach replenishment after sandy is the blame but my grandfather fished lbi and Barnegat inlet for 40 plus years and before he died last year he told me to maybe consider finding a new hobby. I think I might take up golf instead of fishing nj. I think ill just fish obx for red drum twice a year those good old boys down there know how to appreciate there fishery and it shows with the fun my son and I have down there. Everyday all day we are able to find fish there doesn’t matter and he enjoys it. Shit I have to beg him to come fishing with me in jersey because even at 5 he knows theres no fish. the entire time he asks when can we go to the big house and go fishing because this isn’t fun. we cover a lot of water and fish good water but still theres nothing. you know what I think im gonna move. North Carolina here I come because I cant stand golf. although I enjoy reading sj I have to wonder why you guys put so much time and effort into it is the fishing that bad that you had to find something to take up your time that still involves fishing? thanks for all you do but if the fishery was strong would you still put all this effort into this or would you be out fishing instead?

    1. Zeno Hromin Post author

      If the fishing was better we’d probably put even more time into it. Fishing is all we know how to do, and it’s killing me that I can’t run around with camera and capture the joy of fiishing and then go fish at night to have fun with friends. LBI has a really good run of fish last few weeks..if I was you I’d get in on it before they move south

      1. Ryan D

        I know theres been a good run of fish ive been out every night maybe im in a slump. I mean no disrespect im just grumpy and tired. I don’t know whats going on I cant buy a bite tho. thanks for all you do.

        1. Zeno Hromin Post author

          i hear that, been there
          We’ll stop doing what we doing and making it better when you guys quit fishing..neither of those will be happening soon

    2. Frank G staten island

      if you are going to equate fishing with catching fish you are going to brake your rod over your knee and start a sewing class, yes the goal is we all want fish, bigger and better than the next guy. but regardless of every outing i have had my fix for the day.. so to speak, fish or no fish i am happy. I enjoy just being out there, breathing salt air, trying new plugs, new retrieves, new ideas, hunting, searching, getting some exercise. The science of it, calculating tides, winds, currents and most importantly just knowing i was there and tried, worked hard, learned something new keeps me coming back better and harder for the next time.

  5. BP

    I haven’t logged on recently and don’t surf fish.
    Curious why none of the comments seem outraged at the guys putting out a 1 mile net killing anything in its wake?
    And I am NOT sad for the guys doing the netting. Those fish are everybody’s. They should not be left to rot.
    how many recreational fisherman could be entertained by catching and releasing those fish?


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