This year’s Peconic Bay scallop harvest started off with one of the strongest yields in years, according to local baymen and seafood retailers. READ
This year’s Peconic Bay scallop harvest started off with one of the strongest yields in years, according to local baymen and seafood retailers. READ
On the first day of Peconic Bay scallop season Monday, local fishermen and seafood retailers were lamenting what they called a rough start out on the water. READ
The commercial season for Atlantic bluefish in New York State could end prematurely following a pending decision from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. READ
At least once a week, Kim Chilton drops by Southold Fish Market to purchase fresh seafood. Though the fish selection sometimes changes, one thing remains constant: shop owner Charlie Manwaring’s affable disposition.
“You walk in and he always has a great smile, a warm hello, no matter how busy he is,” said Ms. Chilton, a Southold native. “He takes that moment to look up and make eye contact.”
In recognition of his dedication to exceptional customer service and his devotion to the North Fork community, Charlie Manwaring is The Suffolk Times’ 2013 Business Person of the Year.
A lifelong Southold resident who grew up working on the docks with his father, a commercial fisherman, Mr. Manwaring got a job at Southold Fish Market when he was just 12 years old. He took over as owner in his mid-20s, in 2000.
And one year ago, Mr. Manwaring and his business partner, Thomas Grattan Jr., became co-owners of Sophie’s Rest, a Southold bar and restaurant that has long been a popular town haunt.
“Both Tommy and I are revamping the place,” Mr. Manwaring said. “It hasn’t been done in so long that we’re just constantly fixing everything. We make a little money, we fix it; we make a little more money, we fix it. It’s something that’s probably going to be an ongoing thing throughout our whole lives.”
Those who know Mr. Manwaring are quick to comment on his strong work ethic, noting that he regularly puts in 10- to 12-hour days at Southold Fish Market. Longtime employee Nicole Sinning is one such person.
Ms. Sinning first met Mr. Manwaring a decade ago when her father, John Sinning, a commercial fisherman and Southold police officer, secured his then-teenage daughter a part-time job at Southold Fish Market.
“He’s such a hard-working guy,” Ms. Sinning, now 24, said of Mr. Manwaring. “And he was so supportive when I graduated college. I didn’t find a job right away and he said, ‘Work here when you can, at the fish market.’ I would go to the city and up-island for interviews and Charlie was so understanding. He really pushes his staff. He makes us work hard but at the same time he makes us want to succeed in whatever we want to do.”
Though she now works full-time for a media company in Smithtown, Ms. Sinning travels each weekend to work a Sunday shift at Sophie’s Rest.
“He’s just a great guy to work for,” she said.
When he isn’t running Southold Fish Market or making repairs at Sophie’s Rest, Mr. Manwaring is a volunteer firefighter with the Southold Fire Department. He’s also heavily involved with the Southold Baymen’s Association, for which he helps organize a large annual fundraiser.
“He takes care of all the tickets and he’s in charge of the whole dinner,” Southold Fire Department chief Bill Byrnes said. “It’s amazing how it comes together. [The fundraiser] isn’t even advertised anywhere and the tickets sell out within a matter of days.”
Mr. Byrnes, who first met Mr. Manwaring at Southold Fish Market about 15 years ago, described him as a person who’s “always willing to help.”
To illustrate this point, he recalled an incident that occurred a couple years ago, when a small fire broke out in one of the freezers at Braun’s Seafood in Cutchogue.
“Charlie called me up and said ‘What are you hearing?’ ” Mr. Byrnes recalled. “He wanted to know if he should go up there and offer space from one of his freezers. Even though they’re in competition with each other, they help each other out.”
“Charlie does right by everybody,” Ms. Sinning said.
Peconic Bay scallops are here, and opening day’s take ranged from “optimistic at best” for some baymen to “more solid than ever” for others.
Heading out into state and town waters on a windy opening morning, baymen were greeted by the East End’s first extended freeze of the season, with wind blowing temperatures in the low 30s as they searched for scallops.
Nathan Andruski, president of the Southold Town Bayman’s Association, said he was able to catch the 10 bushel state commercial limit, although it took him longer than he had anticipated.
He said high winds impacted his ability to shellfish, forcing him to choose a different location than he had originally planned.
He was joined by about 15 other boats in Southold Bay, where he dredged for scallops from sunrise at about 5:30 to 11:30 a.m.
“Today was one of the harder days. The earliest I have ever been done is 9 or 9:30 a.m., but there was nothing easy about this morning,” Mr. Andruski said. “I am optimistic at the best.”
Mr. Andruski said his dredge was filling up quickly – but not with the scallops he was hoping for. The waters he was fining in was filled with seaweed and other debris.
And another issue – more than half the scallops he pulled up were dead, he said.
“For every live scallop, I probably had two or three dead ones,” Mr. Andruski said, though didn’t want to speculate as to what the cause could be.
Ed Densieski of Riverhead and Gary Joyce of Aquebogue boarded their 20-foot boat and headed into bay waters about the same time as Mr. Andruski, but were only able to catch about six and half bushels total.
The men joined about 10 other boats in the North Cove of Robins Island, where they said the water was surprisingly clean. They did not have issues with bay bottom debris or dead scallops – but were somewhat disheartened with their load.
“The volume we have been catching has gone down over the past four seasons,” Mr. Joyce said. “After [Hurricane] Sandy was even better than this.”
The two been scalloping together for the past 13 years.
Each of the men said the scallops they were catching were a relatively large size, easily surpassing the 2-1/4 inch length required by the state DEC.
“They are excellent. Bigger and better, and more solid than ever,” Mr. Joyce said.
By 2:30, the men found their way back to Brick Cove Marina in Southold to unload.
Southold Fish Market owner Charlie Manwaring said for the first day of the season, the catch has “been a little bit off from previous years.”
“We have plenty of scallops right now, but it’s probably half as much as I had last year from opening day,” Mr. Manwaring said.
He said many of the men he spoke with were unable to meet the bushel limit, but added that the wind may have affected things.
Southold Fish Market in Southold and Braun’s Seafood in Cutchogue will be selling the freshly caught scallops for $18 a pound, according store officials who added that prices may change depending on supply and demand.
Scallop season didn’t begin with its usual bang the first Monday in November thanks to Hurricane Sandy, but fish markets and restaurant menus are stocked with the cold-weather shellfish in time for the holidays.
Before the hurricane, scientists who study bay scallops had been finding many empty shells, known as “cluckers,” in scallop grounds that had promised a bumper crop.
Then, when the hurricane hit, the state DEC pushed off opening day to Nov. 13 due to potential water contamination because of the storm’s flood tide. Many areas in the eastern Peconics were opened sooner after the DEC determined that the water was clean, and the few scallopers who ventured out found plenty of live scallops among the empty shells.
But Phillip Tocci, Riverhead’s “Clam Man” who runs a shellfish stand on the north side of Route 58, said many baymen have told him they’re having trouble selling the scallops they have, because of public concern over whether they’re safe to eat.
“The water is fine. The scallops are fine,” he said this week. “I have people asking constantly ‘Is the water all right? Are the scallops all right?’ The public is not after them like they usually are.”
Mr. Tocci added that many seafood restaurants were damaged in the storm, putting a dent in the wholesale accounts baymen rely on.
He said he hasn’t been catching his limit of 10 bushels of scallops per day, but he has been pulling in enough to meet the market demand.
Southold Fish Market owner Charlie Manwaring said Tuesday that, while there was a big scallop die-off due to unknown causes earlier this year, there are plenty of scallops still in the water.
“Certain areas were closed after the hurricane, so not everyone was in one area opening week,” he said. “They’re doing really well in certain areas. It’s just hit or miss. I think we’ll have them right through to March 31,” the official end of the season.
Mr. Manwaring said baymen are seeing “tons of bugs,” or baby scallops, which will reach harvest size next year.
He said the retail price this week is about $17 per pound, down from $19 when the season opened, although he expects the price to rise again as the supply thins out later in the season.
“Some areas just opened up, so we have a little more product,” he said.
Mr. Manwaring said baymen were lucky that many of this year’s scallops were in deep water, since they are often thrown up on shore by hurricane surges if they are in shallow water.
He said the boats belonging to the 15 to 20 baymen he buys scallops from were also safe during the storm.
“We really got lucky out here,” he said.
Recreational scalloper Ed Densieski of Riverhead missed the first few days of the season, which opened in some local waters on the day of the nor’easter that hit shortly after the hurricane.
“It was nasty,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t go opening day.”
Mr. Densieski said it appears there was a scallop die-off in Cutchogue Harbor and that by the time he got to the scalloping grounds off the Orient Causeway on Nov. 10, “a lot of it was picked through” and he didn’t find any.
“There was definitely some die-off this year, but in some spots they were huge. They were the size of marshmallows,” he said, declining to disclose where he found them.
“If you want to put the time in, you’ll get some,” he said.
Though they haven’t officially moved into their new Main Road building, the Southold Fish Market has been open for two weeks in a trailer on the property, owner Charlie Manwaring said Monday.
“We’re open seven days a week in the trailer behind our soon-to-be building,” he said. “We’re hoping to open our doors in the spring.”
Though customers can still purchase their fresh fish at the new location, formerly Hollisters Restaurant in Southold, take-out is not possible from the trailer, according to staff.
Mr. Manwaring said those who want to get their fix of some of the business’s more popular take-out items, such as their flounder sandwich, seafood quesadillas and fish and chips, will be able to do so at Sophie’s restaurant in Southold.
“We’re setting up our full menu there right now and hope to get that done in the next few days,” said Mr. Manwaring, a co-owner at the Southold restaurant. “We’re hoping to get that done in the next few days.”
When Founders Tavern and Southold Fish Market entered last Wednesday night’s rubber match of the Greenport Men’s Softball League championship series, an offensive battle was expected. The series pitted the two highest scoring offenses from the regular season against one another, and the forecast was for a windy night. In splitting the first four games of the series, Southold Fish Market outscored Founders by 72-65. With all of the expectations of offense in Game 5, no one could have predicted what happened that night at the Polo Grounds.
After a leadoff flyout, Roger Turbush tripled, beginning a wild night. The next batter, John Hansen, hit a ball deep to left center field that bounced off the top of the fence, jumped diagonally further towards center, hit the top of the fence again, and finally went over for a two-run home run. By the end of the first inning, Founders had belted six home runs and scored 12 runs on 10 hits. But Southold Fish Market responded with a strong inning itself.
After responding with three home runs and seven runs of its own, Southold Fish Market’s first inning ended on an unorthodox play. With seven runs in, one out, and Doug Conklin on first base, Warren Bondarchuk hit a small pop-up to first basemen Jamie Bednoski, who dropped the fly ball and turned a double play, ending the Southold Fish Market rally.
Founders Tavern came back strong in the second with three more home runs and six runs, which eventually proved to be its slowest inning of the night. After three, the game was getting out of hand at 26-9.
“There was no slowing down for us,” Founders Tavern Manager Jon Schlachter said. “It was essentially the championship game, Game 5, and we know that they can put up some runs. We couldn’t risk it.”
In the end, Founders Tavern tallied 14 home runs and put up a whopping 42 runs to take the title with a 42-15 victory. Southold Fish Market knocked out seven homers of its own but it wasn’t enough.
“I still give those guys a lot of credit,” Schlachter said. “After we won the first two games on Monday night, they could’ve laid down and let us take it on Tuesday. But they came back and fought hard and forced us to a Game 5. I have a lot of respect for them for doing that.”
John Hansen led Founders Tavern, going 5 for 6 with four home runs and 10 runs batted in, but he wasn’t the only big contributor of the night. Founders Tavern also received plenty of production from Rob Stanevich (4 for 5, home run, four runs batted in, walk), Roger Turbush (4 for 6, four RBI, home run, triple), Bob Marcello (4 for 4, two home runs, three RBI, two walks), Herb Loper (2 for 6, home run, four RBI), Chris Turbush (3 for 5, home run, three RBI, walk), Carl Ruthinoski (2 for 6, home run, two RBI), Jamie Bednoski (3 for 5, three home runs, seven RBI, walk), Ed Michaelis (3 for 4, home run, triple, three RBI, two walks) and Chris Golden (3 for 5).
After coming into the playoffs as the No. 4 seed, Founders pulled off upsets of No. 1 Billy’s By the Bay, a first-round sweep, and a 3-2 championship series victory over No. 2 Southold Fish Market. Injuries to everyday starting outfielders Dan Hagerman, Glenn Zaleski and Schlachter forced late-season roster additions of brothers Roger and Chris Turbush as well as Kevin Curtis, who played in Monday night’s games. They proved to be championship moves for Founders, which claimed its first league championship.
At the beginning of the week, Billy’s By the Bay sat atop the Greenport Men’s Softball League standings at 8-0 with Southold Fish Market hot on its tail at 8-1. While these two teams have similar records, the makeup of each team is quite different. In fact, they may be viewed as a generation apart.
When Southold Fish Market left-center-fielder Warren Bondarchuk, 23, began his involvement with the Greenport league, he was a 14-year-old bat boy for a team that had the same core group of players that are with today’s Billy’s By the Bay. “Being the bat boy, I always looked up to them and liked how they played as a team,” he said. “When I got the chance to play with them they all gave me tips to help my game.”
Bondarchuk remembers eight of the team’s current players (John Brush Sr., Mark Berry, Matt Verity, John Brush Jr., Ev Corwin, Pat Gagen, Bob Neese and Chris Lucarelli) playing for that team, which at the time was sponsored, ironically, by Southold Fish Market.
Currently, Bondarchuk’s version of Southold Fish Market carries an average age of 28 years old, but eight of its 13 players are between the ages of 21 and 25. In contrast, John Brush Sr.’s Billy’s By the Bay team carries an average age just over 34, with six out of its 15 players being 35 or older. While both teams have a mix of veterans and youth, the way each team was designed and put together couldn’t be any more different.
Billy’s By the Bay has taken its core group that has played together for over 10 years (the average player age is 40.6 years) and added some youth by acquiring players in their mid-20s like Chris Macomber, Mo Aguilera, and Keith Sweat, and bringing in 21-year-old utility infielder Joe Miranda.
“You can’t help but respect the tradition that these guys carry,” Miranda said. “When they were Skippers and I was on the opposite side, I always liked their style of play and the respect they had for other teams.”
Being the youngest player on a team is something Miranda is used to. “They help me keep my feet on the ground with the way they give me tips,” he said. “I’m a more confident hitter when they talk to me about every pitcher.”
Bondarchuk considers Brush Sr. his softball mentor. “Brush taught me everything I know about softball,” he said.
Yet, when he was 18, Bondarchuk split from the group to join a team that carried a roster nearly full of players who at the time were still in high school. While many of the faces have changed, the youth theme has remained constant. The additions over the years of Dave Angevine and Chris Doucett, Bondarchuk’s father-in-law and brother-in-law, respectively, helped bring veteran leadership and knowledge to a team filled with a good deal of young talent.
Doucett, 35, was once a part of Brush’s core group, playing with that team for five seasons before moving on. “You have to have a lot of respect for a team that stays together and is still as competitive [as they are], plus they have a good mix of older veterans and younger players,” he said.
Only five players are still with Southold Fish Market that were on the team back when Bondarchuk joined it as an 18-year-old. The average age of those five is 25.8 years. In contrast to taking a veteran squad and adding young talent, like Billy’s By the Bay has, Southold Fish Market has taken a small group of young players and brought in veterans to help learn and develop along the way.
In their only meeting this year to date, the game was decided in the third inning. Sound strange?
With Billy’s By the Bay leading, 8-7, Southold Fish Market’s Andres Puerta attempted to score the tying run and was called out at the plate. Not agreeing with the home-plate umpire, Puerta argued and was ejected. Because it had no bench player to replace Puerta, Southold Fish Market had to forfeit the game. League rules state that a team cannot finish a game with fewer players than it began a game with. The next matchup between the teams is scheduled for Tuesday, July 5.
While they are competing for league supremacy, similar sentiments are shared by both teams that, while very different in nature, have so much in common.
Doucett, who has been on both sides, summed it up best. “It’s great knowing those guys and competing with them,” he said. “It makes the thrill even better.”