Fishing in Freeport, Dining on the Results

by Jason Roth on August 15, 2010

A half-day fishing trip aboard a Freeport party boat is close enough to NYC that every New Yorker should do it once a summer.

If this boat ride doesn't relax you, you need another beer.

If you have a car, or don’t mind a 5-minute cab ride from the LIRR station, you’ll be in Freeport, Long Island within 30-40 minutes, or by train from Manhattan, in an hour and a half. (It’s ten minutes closer than Jones Beach.) And if you’re like my wife, whose only childhood memories of large bodies of water were filling and emptying buckets of floodwater from her basement in Queens, then Captain Lou’s Fleet (map) is a good choice for you. Inept at fishing or not, the Captain Lou crew will take care of you.

On the Saturday we went, two of Captain Lou’s boats were leaving at 1:00 PM for a four-hour trip. The choice of the day was fluke or sea bass & porgies. We arrogantly opted for the latter based on taste (have eaten sea bass, though not porgies) and on the assumption that sea bass might put up more of a fight. It’s a breezy, relaxing ride from the dock out to the bay, and then to the ocean. I felt that the $37 per-person fee (which included rods and bait) was worth it immediately. The ocean air, the seaside homes, the awesome motor and sailboats that I’d never in a billion years want to waste my life working on, and the blue sea itself were simply beautiful.  I’ve always thought that spending life in New York City is a perfectly fine choice, but getting out to see the natural word is essential for a whole laundry list of reasons, not the least of which being one’s mental health.

One thing the crew can’t do anything about is prevent sea sickness, and unfortunately Karen got hit with it right in sync with the anchor’s first splash. Fortunately, she snapped out of it just in time to hook a keepable sea bass and beat me in our own unofficial pool.

Porgy and Bess. I mean... porgie and bass.

Sea bass in New York State need to be a minimum of 12-inches, and it looked like she just made that, maybe by a couple inches. We wouldn’t win the boat’s official pool ($5 a person), with Karen’s fish or with my puny sea bass which I had to release. I did end up reeling in my first porgie, though. I was actually all ready to throw it back in, not too impressed with the size, but one of the crew said it was indeed a keeper.

The boat trip concluded back at the dock on Woodcleft Avenue. This street in Freeport is known as “The Nautical Mile”, a semi-depressed but walkable, waterside street of restaurants and bars, most open, some bankrupt. I wouldn’t say it’s a destination in itself, but with the fishing, you have an opportunity for a drink or a meal. Fortunately, right opposite the Captain Lou dock is a restaurant and bar called Blue 42, proudly advertising their fisherman’s special: they’ll cook your fish and serve it to you with fries and a Bud Light for $10.00. That’s an offer I couldn’t refuse. Well, except the part about the Bud Light, which I did refuse. Instead, I opted for a beer. (Sorry, Bud Light fans, but you deserve it.)

$104 fish sandwich

The cook at Blue 42 did a nice job, just barely breading the fish and avoiding my worst fear of drenching it in grease. The fries were slightly coated (not my favorite style), but cooked well, and the tartar sauce was not really tartar sauce, fortunately, but rather a tartar-like sauce with horseradish added.

Let’s face it, our one sandwich for the two of us needed a little help in the seafood department. So, we grabbed a half-dozen oysters.

Doing as the Long Islanders do: eating some gritty blue points.

We added on a nicely dressed chopped salad, with chunks of cucumbers, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.

Decent salad. And we didn't even have to harvest it ourselves.

You don’t do this stuff to save money, but something about buying a $10 sandwich, hidden costs and all, was not at all a bad way to end a summer day. We sat on the side of the bar looking out the open windows, felt the familiar sea breeze on our faces, and enjoyed the results of our labor.


(Update)

We went back again for more: more fishing and more eating. Here are some highlights.

Four sea bass and a blue. Sounds like lunch to me.

Kumamotos with tobiko this time, and absolutely perfect and delicious. (The chef himself recognized us from last time and comped them. Classy guy, and good cook.)

That great chopped salad, tender and crisp calamari, and (as a former Boston resident) well-above-average clam chowder. (Thickening with potato is key!)

There's gotta be a whole sea bass in there.

The bluefish was porcini-dusted. Very nice.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff August 18, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I’ve always wanted to eat a properly cleaned and prepared fish that I’d caught myself. A question: You say that the choice of the day was between fluke or sea bass & porgies, and that you opted for the latter. What would have happened if you had caught a fluke? (Are you obligated to throw it back?)

Jason Roth August 18, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Not at all. The choice is just based on which fish the particular boat is going for. Some boats go where the fluke is, some go where the blues are, etc. (They go where they know the fish are, and also use sonar devices.) Last year, I caught a trigger fish, for example, while on a blues boat. You only need to throw something back if it’s under a legal limit, and not all fish have such a limit.

By the way, as sad as it is, I’ve never really known how to fillet a fish because I just never did it enough. Watching the 12-year-old kid on the boat fillet our fish, I think I’ve officially learned.

Geoff August 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Ahh, that makes perfect sense, that each boat goes for a different type of fish. I don’t know how the hell I was imagining it would work, heh.

This sounds like something I’ve got to do before the end of summer, along with a trip upstate for obscenely giant turkeylegs and pickles at the Renaissance Fair(e)…

Jason Roth September 1, 2010 at 7:37 am

(New photos from another trip posted.)

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