My daughter proves all of us possess an interest in fishing.
Lyman, my oldest child sent me a text on Friday:
“Will you take me fishing?” I almost fell off my chair! This young woman, now 24, who is very much her mother’s daughter, caught me completely off guard. She’s always been an avid tennis player and golfer, and of course loves shopping and the beach. Fishing however has never been on her radar.
I was able to grant her request after a chance meeting this past Memorial Day weekend with a man named Jay Scott at my restaurant, Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor. He and his friend were waiting for a table in the garden and we struck up a conversation. The two revealed their interest in something unique to my restaurant, a vintage 16 foot Yellowstone camper which I use as my office behind the kitchen. They asked many questions which I was thrilled to answer. It turned out that they had purchased an old Airstream camper for their fishing station named Silly Lily’s, located about 25 minutes from Sag Harbor on Moriches Bay, Long Island. After the conversation switched to fishing, I immediately thought of Lyman and how fun it would be for us to visit this place and rent a boat to go out fishing. They explained that the Silly Lily Fishing Station & Marina rents skiffs fashioned with 8 horse power outboard engines, perfect for what we needed. I considered it a done deal and was excited to plan an outing with Lyman.
Tucked away in well-protected Tuthill Cove, the marina has a long history (since 1932) of serving families who wish to rent boats to travel to the beaches and go clamming and fishing on Moriches Bay. The establishment began as Sloan’s, but then in the 1940’s, two women, Silvia and Lily, took over the property and created Silly Lily’s as it is still called today. The marina also rents out sailboats, paddle boards/SUPs, and of course a full range of bait and tackle supplies for the avid fisherman. For those with their own boats, the marina provides 46 slips for boats up to 26 feet in length as well as moorings. The chef in me was alerted to the fact that they have a food truck on premises, selling “beach style BBQ” as well as tacos, sandwiches and salads. Chef Lou cooks up quite a storm here, a local taste as flavorful and unique as the marina, surroundings, and the overall experience itself.
I made a phone call to Silly Lily’s and learned that they rent boats by the day and half day. With this new found interest in fishing from Lyman I chose a half day for good measure. On Sunday morning, Lyman took the Hampton Jitney bus from NYC to Manorville, NY (1.5 hours from Manhattan) and I picked her up promptly at 11:30. We drove 10 minutes to Silly Lily’s, checked in with Gary Grunsweich the manager, who was the previous owner however he is still running the shop. I then rented a skiff for $100 and we visited the fun store there, that’s loaded with tee-shirts, hats, beer, suntan lotion, bait, rods, bobbers, and even artwork for sale.
We walked up to the BBQ truck and ordered a pulled pork sandwich. Lyman bought some Montauk Beer, a refreshing and popular local beer, and I, some iced tea. We then had a quick intro to starting and navigating with the 8 horsepower outboard on the skiff and then hit the water, all in about 15 minutes.
Moriches Bay is a true delight. Since we arrived an hour before dead low tide, we were not able to traverse nearby Terrell River, the banks which run along the beautiful Terrell River County Park. Although I was more than ready with my 6 weight fly rod, rigged with a white and olive clouser minnow, this trip really wasn’t about fishing as much as it was about sharing some basic fly casting thoughts with my daughter and introduce her to the sport that’s made me happy all my life. I was thrilled to have her aboard, but happier that this was her idea. 24 years was worth the wait, and like the motto of Silly Lily’s – “Quit wishin’, Go fishin’”, we did just that.
We putted around the bay until we located the spot that Gary had suggested on his map, a secluded area with a high probability of holding schoolie bass in shallow water. All was good on our journey until we hit a sandbar, stalling out. With a heavy push we were again on our way. We located a nice spot and dropped anchor. I casted for a few minutes and gave Lyman some basic suggestions on this important aspect. After brief instruction, she casted for a few minutes herself and admitted it was more difficult than she had imagined.
On our return to the marina we passed the Moriches Bay Coast Guard station and noticed pods of bait dancing on the surface of the water. Lyman was amazed to watch the fish skipping across the top of the water as a Bass or Bluefish chased them from below. I grabbed my rod and made several casts into the swirls but no luck. I’ve been fishing for a long time and have my share of superstitions however my luck in Moriches Bay that day was derived from the quality time spent with my daughter.
Our excursion that day was an ice breaker that I’ve waited for for many years. I couldn’t have been more delighted that she asked me to take her out fishing. She and I had a wonderful father/daughter outing on the water. Perhaps in time, with a lighter fly rod and from the solid surface of the bridge over Hook Pond near our home, she will learn to master the art of casting; load the rod with smooth, slow movement, then releasing the line and watching it settle quietly on the water. I look forward to that, and that is well worth the wait too.