On nights where the wind is still hot, the water is bathtub warm and the tides are right, the stripers arrive. Finding them takes a special kind of angler, someone who can communicate silently; maneuver an 18-foot Maritime in the pitch black; someone who can feel the fish in the night. Writer James Wu issues a rare invitation to hitch a ride on a night excursion for stripers on the western sound of Long Island. He describes a mysterious fishery, a night of stealth and skill and an unknowable quarry we can only hope to glimpse.

We were on the western sound of Long Island in the 18-foot Maritime. It had been in the upper 90s in New York City, a hot day in the hottest summer in 26 years. I had driven out Saturday night to meet Marcus in New Rochelle, NY for the 11:30 night tide, new moon, early July. It took about a gallon of gas to get there.
The skiff would run all night on two gallons; if we crossed the Sound to Manhasset, four. At the marina, the night air was hot, wind from the west, from the city and bay, and inland. There had been pink patches in the sky as I rested before fishing while Charlotte thumbed her phone. We’d had the air conditioning on for three days. On the rug, in front of it, her son traced a picture of the tallest building in the world.

“It’s like the Santa Ana wind,” Marcus said. “Hot breath.”

“You’ve never lived in California.”

“Yes, I did. In the ’70s when I was in the Navy. It feels like fire.”
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