With a tug on the line followed by a flash of excitement, a porgy flailed out of the water, sailed through the air and landed on the Miss Montauk with a slap.
The young fisherman, 10-year-old Gus Washburn, whooped with pure pleasure.
It was his first time fishing off a boat and he made the first catch during this summer’s fifth and final tour of the “Take a Kid Fishing” program held by the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, early Monday evening. Three hours later, at the end of the tour, he and his 6-year-old brother, Theo, had reeled in a dozen porgies, with plenty of help from their parents, Brian Washburn and Kerry Greene, especially with affixing the slimy clam bait to the hook, the hardest part, according to Theo.
The family—residents of Manhattan who summer in East Hampton—were among about 12 children and several more adults who took part in that day’s tour, learning how to handle rods and reels, how to hook bait, not their fingers, and how to avoid bopping people in the head with sinkers. Although a bucketful of porgies was reeled in by tour’s end, there were also plenty of lines tangled on one another and clumps of seaweed hauled aboard.
The “Take a Kid Fishing” program, which just wrapped up its second summer, aims to teach angling techniques to children age 6 to 16 and to generate interest in the sport that has such deep roots in Montauk.
“The point is for kids who’ve never been on a fishing boat before to learn to fish so they can carry on the tradition and help keep the recreational fishing industry going,” explained Pat Shea, the chamber’s event coordinator, as she stood on the starboard side, pole in hand, on Monday. “You can see how much fun they have.”
Monday’s tour on the Miss Montauk, a 65-foot party boat captained by Jamie Quaresimo, was preceded by four held the week prior on the Viking.
“I love to see them enjoying themselves. It’s great,” said Sharon Quaresimo, the captain’s wife, who guided the children on Monday, adding that her favorite part is seeing people interact without electronics.
Katie Rice, an 8-year-old East Hampton summer resident from Manhattan, stood next to her cousin, Grace Kentrotas, 9, as Katie explained to her family, “If we catch something we’ll scream, ‘We got dinner!’”
Sure enough, she caught something: seven porgies, to be exact. Three of them, however, had to be released because they were undersize, she said.
The porgies must be at least 10 inches long to keep, according to this year’s regulations, Ms. Quaresimo said.
The first one caught by Grace on Monday measured only 9 inches. It was tossed unceremoniously back out to sea. She grabbed more bait before casting her line again.
“Probably the gooier the better,” Ms. Quaresimo instructed.
Mates on the boat dispensed advice through the evening too.
“Somebody stole the bait. You know what they call that?” one asked. “Sleeping at the reel.”
Next year, Ms. Shea said, the chamber hopes to get word of the program out even earlier to lure in more participants. “It’s going to be a larger event,” she said with a smile, as the boat returned from its point 9 miles offshore.
The Washburn family, meanwhile, was figuring out what to do with their catch of one dozen fish.
“What should we do?” Mr. Washburn asked. “Bring back 24 fillets?”
“No,” his son Gus replied. “I think we should take two fish and have four fillets.”