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"Because that's how God made it, is why not. Anyhow, the fish is more offshore now. What you really need is to get yourself a boat."
"Probably you sell boats."
O'Neill shrugged. "There's outfits that'll rent you one."
I found a rental outfit in Sag Harbor. I went there with my father, who brought a landing net, and my brother, who was visiting from California. We'd collected an amazing assortment of tackle, including a tiny boat rod, stiff as a piece of hickory, and a lightweight rod and reel that would have been perfect for sunfish.
The skiffs rented for $29 a day, but the guy let us have ours for $25, because it was already past noon. "I doubt you'll do much," the guy said. He handed us a map that showed the spots frequented by striped bass, porgies, flounder and fluke, as well as weakfish.
My brother thought my father should pay for the skiff because it was my father's birthday. Such inverse reasoning isn't uncommon in our family.
I don't know how long it had been since we'd all gone out together in a boat. We took up a great deal more space now than we had in the old days; now we were three men instead of two boys and an adult. There was some jostling for position. I felt the closeness of skin, that familiar intimacy, tempered, as ever, by the need to assert my independence. But the need was much diminished, an advantage of being older.
My brother, at the helm, asked for beer from the cooler. He wanted to head for the opposite shore of Gardiners Bay, a 30-minute ride. My father, a non-swimmer, wanted to stay closer to the harbor. We headed for the opposite shore.
My father had a beer. I had a beer. The water was choppy, but the spray coming at us felt good. The sun was hot. I took off my shirt.
When we reached our destination, my brother cut the motor. Our barely articulated plan was to drift from the shore's eastern end to a rocky point at its western tip, through a region marked weakfish on the map. I baited a double-hooked O'Neill rig with squid and dropped it over. It hit bottom at about 10 feet, so I cranked it up a notch. I used the same kind of rig on the tiny boat rod. The others tried Salty Dogs, soft plastic lures that shimmer like baitfish when submerged.