Midtown Manhattan, 5:30 a.m., Huey Lewis riding shotgun. Lewis may be many things—eighties hit machine, MTV eyeworm, entertainer for hire—but he’s nothing if not a fisherman. So when he passed through town in October, ahead of the release of a new album (his first in ten years, and likely his last, because, since recording it, with his band, the News, he has basically, as a result of a rare disease, lost his hearing, and therefore his ability to sing in key), he wanted to try to slay some stripers. He’d never fished New York City. So he signed on with Captain Frank Crescitelli, of Fin Chaser Charters. Meetup was a Staten Island marina, at first light.
Lewis had some urban angling experience. “When I was a kid, I had a little El Toro,” he said. “Like, an eight-foot sailboat. I lived in Strawberry Point, in Marin County. And I would sail around San Francisco Bay and take my spin rod along with a couple of Rapala lures and come back with three huge striped bass, no sweat.”
The ear affliction, called Ménière’s, comes and goes. Some weeks he’s O.K., some days he can hardly hear the phone ring. This was, so far, at least before sunup, a good day. “But I can’t book a show when I don’t know if I’ll be deaf.”
体育投注平台Now sixty-nine, Lewis lives on a ranch in Montana, with several trout streams nearby. You wouldn’t guess that he was born in New York City and spent his first years in Ohio. But he’s mostly a Bay Area kid. His father, a radiologist, and his mother, an artist who escaped Poland in 1939, divorced soon after they got to California, in 1955. His mother’s parents, who also fled Poland, had died by suicide together, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. “It was a ‘House of Sand and Fog’ thing,” Lewis said. “And so my mother became a hippie, basically. She started hanging out at the No Name Bar in Sausalito, which was affiliated with Ferlinghetti, Lenny Bruce, and the City Lights crowd. She took up with a Beat poet named Lew Welch. That was my living room when I was a teen-ager. Gregory Corso and Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg sitting around drinking wine and smoking dope and reading poems.” To get him clear of all this, Lewis’s father sent him to boarding school in New Jersey. “I hated it,” Lewis said. He bummed around Europe for a year, with a harmonica, then bailed on college, returned to the Bay, and, a dozen years and a bunch of bands later, emerged as a Reagan-era rock star. “It’s hip to be square,” he sang. And maybe it was.
In Great Kills Harbor, Captain Frank, a solidly built Staten Island lifer with a handlebar mustache and a lit cigar, was waiting aboard a spiffy outboard loaded with electronics. “What’s the difference between a fishing guide and a large pizza?” he said. “The pizza can feed a family of four.” The boat had a clear tank teeming with bunker—live bait—but Lewis is a fly fisherman, and before long he was standing in the bow, casting a shrimplike pattern on a sinking line to some weakfish that Crescitelli had espied on his fish-finder. “I’ve never fished for fish on a screen before,” Lewis said. He looked trim in fishing pants, a blue pullover, and black Allbirds. He kept his balance in the chop.
“There are more weakfishing world records within two miles of here than anywhere in the world,” Crescitelli said.
“So let me get this straight—we got a chance at a world record?” Lewis said.
Not today. The weakfishing was weak, and Crescitelli gunned it out into the bay. Sun rising, Verrazzano towers gleaming. Crescitelli pulled up in a roiling stretch of water, which, he explained, was the outflow from a sewage-treatment plant a mile away. “Smell that sweet smell?” he said. “This is where the bait’s at. Thing is, they changed the formula. It’s not fishing as good as it used to.”
体育投注平台“Fishing is never as good as it’s going to be or as it was,” Lewis said.
“There,” Crescitelli said, pointing at his screen. “That’s a shit ton of fish right there.” Lewis cast and stripped, cast and stripped: nothing. Crescitelli steered north to Hoffmann Island, where sick immigrants were quarantined a century ago. “A guy made three porno movies here in the seventies. Used to be buildings there.”
体育投注平台“Huh,” Lewis said, pitching his line toward some old pilings: no dice.
“That’s good casting, Huey. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
体育投注平台To the south was another island, with a smokestack and some ruins. “This was the crematorium,” Crescitelli said. He drifted the boat as close as he could, and Lewis worked the eddy line off the jetty. “Huey, you’re right in the spot. C’mon, just one striper!”
Bang. Lewis’s rod tip bent. A striper? No. A flounder. A flounder! On a fly?
体育投注平台“Never seen that, I gotta say,” Crescitelli said.
“It’s better than not fishing,” Lewis said.
He held up the flounder, grinning, secure in the knowledge that a photo of him with such a meagre specimen would not in any way diminish his standing in the world. ♦