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Catch Of The Day: Bluefish

The Town of Oyster Bay recently held it’s 28th annual Bluefish Tournament at Theodore Roosevelt Park. The tournament, sponsored by the Town’s Department of Parks and Oyster Bay Marine Supply, is a fun day for the whole family with raffles and prizes that include Mercury inflatable boats and Mercury outboards, rods, reels, ice chests, water skis, dinners for two and much more. It is an awesome display of fishing equipment that everyone looks forward to having a chance to win.

The tournament is one of the largest in the Northeast and is enjoyed by boating and fishing enthusiasts. This year, Bob Leicht of Huntington won first prize with a catch of 15.48 pounds and also received the John Walker Award. Oyster Bay’s own Pierre Marchais, owner of Pierre Marchais Tree Service, earned second place honors with a catch of 15.06 pounds.

Pierre Marchais said he missed the first prize by three minutes and came in second in the Bluefish Tournament. He said, “The weigh-in stopped at 4 p.m. and about three minutes to four, the other guy came in with a fish two ounces more than mine. But I am happy. A few years ago, seven or eight years, I came in fourth. And a few years ago, my grandson Brandon came in second place.”

Marchais said he doesn’t eat the bluefish he catches. “I give them all away. I don’t like bluefish. I like striped bass. I caught one three weeks ago, outside a private house near Seawanhaka Yacht Club on Centre Island. We call the location the tower. At high tide the water runs around it and that was where the striped bass was caught.”

“All the fish have been caught with bunker or bunker chunks. The only place where you can get bunker is a place on West Harbor that is very good.“

Michael Hambrook is another Oyster Bay resident who made the board in this year’s Bluefish Tournament.

His wife, Patricia Hambrook, who teaches at Portledge, said it was a special outing for Mike and his son, John. “They never get to do that, with their busy schedules.” Mike runs the Oyster Bay Frame Shop on East Main Street, and in 2012, he was listed as coming in sixth in the top ten fisherman in the Oyster Bay Marine Supply list (Marchais came in 11th that year).

When asked, Patricia said, “No, he didn’t bring home his winning bluefish.” Actually the town doesn’t give back the bluefish submitted to the contest. They gut them to be sure there are no weights inside. Also, since the fish are not refrigerated as they hang, waiting for the contest to finish, they feel they cannot in good conscience give them back to be cooked and eaten.

However, said Patricia, “Ali, at the Gulf station is often given the excess bluefish by the fisherman and he distributes them to people who need that extra help.”

But, Michael does bring home a lot of fish over the year, and Patricia cooks them, with pleasure. Except for the blues, which she only likes, stewed.

Along with plaques, winners of first through 10th places received gift certificates in the following amounts: first place - $2,000; second place - $1,000; third place - $750; fourth place - $600; fifth and sixth places - $500; seventh and eighth places - $400; ninth and 10th places - $300. Winners of 11th and 12th places received a $200 gift certificate and 13th, 14th and 15th place winners received a $100 gift certificate.  

The tournament record for bluefish is 19.05 pounds.