I had a great 4th of July. I was able to finally get out of Philadelphia by driving down to Margate, New Jersey. Miraculously I was able to find a great parking spot not far from the Jessie O dock where a pontoon boat was waiting to take the next fishing party out to the back bays of Margate. Margate is one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth, snuggled between the Atlantic Ocean and the back bay inlets that protect some of the state's most precious water birds, flora and fauna. The sky was blue with great puffs of white clouds and the air was clean and clear.
I was fortified by having grabbed a quick lunch at my favorite restaurant on the strip, Maynard's. Maynard's is a blue collar kind of a joint whose recently deceased owner Al Triano was one of the most congenial hosts I have ever met.
Al has set the tone and his son and staff carry on the traditions of hospitality, good food and drink without the pretentious prices or upscale decor of the more pricey joints on the strip. Maynard's is a place where a smelly fisherman can pop in for a cold beer before heading home to dinner and a shower, no questions asked. They also have an outside garden restaurant with bar and live entertainment. On a very hot day I prefer the inside with the air conditioning.
I arrived early at the dock, and purchased my ticket for the afternoon outing. The pontoon boat is extremely stable and well equipped with an experienced captain and crew. They also serve refreshments and there is an onboard rest room. Soon we were heading out to the bay for the afternoon's fishing. I love the water, the roar of the boat's twin outboard engines, the sea gulls following, laughing, begging for scraps of fish and bait. The oceanscape was breath takingly beautiful. The marshlands were the greenest green, against the deep blue sky and puffy white clouds. There was a constant sea breeze and the tempature was at least ten degrees cooler than the shore.
Soon we had our lines in the water, drifting with the tide, searching for elusive fish of all kinds, but mostly we were fishing to catch flounders. Flounders are among my favorite kind of fish. They are unique in their coloration and design, aptly called flat fish, with both eyes on one side of their body. I have seen so many of these fish that they no longer appear strange or odd to me. And they are good eating too. However they must be at least 18 inches long in order to be "keepers". We were able to catch about 100 fish of every size and description, but very few "keepers". The others were all catch and release. Catch and release allows the smaller fish to develop and multiply thus assuring that there will be plenty of fish for future generations.
Again my thoughts turned to the Gulf of Mexico and the ongoing tragedy that the BP oil spill has caused. The ocean and every living thing in it is so precious. The environment must be protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy and treasure. Somehow we must learn from the BP calamity to make sure that such a travesty against nature does not ever happen again. I will dedicate the rest of my life to that purpose and I hope everyone will join me. What we do not know about the environment we must learn. I have said it before and I will say it again: We must all become oceanographers and marine biologists. We are all environmentalists and tree huggers now. Or at least we should all want to become such. Saving the planet is a huge calling, but it must become our highest priority if life on this planet, in all of its glory, magnificense and exquisite diversity is to survive. May it be so and speedily in our time. Peace, shalom.