More than 30 years ago, maybe more, I regularly fished the nine bridges that wound over the marshes and channels north of Jones Beach on Long Island. I had a fair amount of success swinging bucktails and Bait Tails under the bridge into the shadows to waiting stripers. Eventually, I was able to differentiate what type of fish were harassing the bunker schools without actually seeing the fish. When the pods of baitfish were in a panicky mode, it was the result of bluefish slicing through the school. When the bunker were tightly packed and swimming in circles, it meant stripers or weakfish were lying in wait in the shadow line waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
Anyway, every night or morning to some, around 3 a.m. this guy would show up. Judging by his tackle and his lack of success I could see he was a relative novice to bridge fishing. I later discovered that he was in the restaurant or bar business and his arrival at the bridge coincided with his getting off from work. His name was Bob. Everyone had a fishing nickname – there was Old Man Bill, Batman, L-Bracket and then “Kamikaze Bob.”
One uneventful evening I was making the rounds trying to determine which bridge to work – there are nine of them within five miles of each other. I parked the vehicle and made a quick walk over the span looking for those mysterious big black moving shadows underneath. It seemed everywhere I went this fellow arrived as well. I realized that he was shadowing me.
Scent of Liverwurst
Anyway, I decided to have a little fun with Kamikaze Bob. I was fishing the Fundy Bridge and Kamikaze was nearby as usual. I said to Batman, “Let’s have some fun with Kamikaze? “L-Bracket what are you up to?” Batman asked. “Just follow my lead,” I replied.
I had brought a liverwurst sandwich onto the bridge for a snack and I could see Bob watching me from a short distance away, trying to pick up any tips or knowledge he could. As I reached into my bag for the sandwich, I pulled out a slice of liverwurst instead and began to rub it on my bucktail. Then I gave it to Batman and he did the same. By then, Kamikaze’s eyes were bugging out. I made a few casts praying for a fish to seal the deal, but unfortunately caught nothing.
Sure as hell the next night Bob showed up, and I saw him pull something out of his pocket and rub it on his bucktail. It turns out to be a chunk of liverwurst. He made a few casts, and as I walked past him, I whispered so that only the two of us could hear. “Is it Boars Head?” He gave me a confused look and I laughed so hard I almost pissed in my pants.
Hooked to a Screamer
One night we were fishing the Fundy Bridge around 2 a.m., just about the time the Oak Beach Inn was closing. All of a sudden a few hundred drunken motorists started driving home after an evening of merriment. To those who are not familiar with the Fundy Bridge, it had no sidewalk and only a white line approximately 3 feet from the railing. We stood in that unprotected 3 feet casting our bucktails while all these knuckleheads drove past at 60 miles per hour. All that stood between certain death and us was a white line.
Suddenly I heard the distinct sound of a drag screaming off a Penn Squidder near me. I thought “holy cow – must be a big fish.” I looked to my left and there was Bob facing north on the Meadowbrook Parkway with his rod bent over and his drag screaming. Suddenly there was a loud pop as the spool emptied, and the line finally parted. He had caught the biggest Chevy Impala I had ever seen. Hence the name “Kamikaze Bob.” Those were great times that provided many good memories.