Saltwater Turkey

The turkey is funny bird of sorts with a variety of connotations to its name and a faithful following. Hunters in New York State and around the country lose sleep staying up late thinking of ...

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The turkey is funny bird of sorts with a variety of connotations to its name and a faithful following. Hunters in New York State and around the country lose sleep staying up late thinking of ways to dupe this "street smart" bird and marriages broken because of the passion hunters' feel towards the turkey. This game bird can actually drive hunters' nuts!

Someone who does something not too smart or quirky is sometimes called a turkey and this term was used religiously in the late 60's and in the 70's in many of the youth cultures and "B" movies of that time. A car or piece of machinery if it's not working right is called a turkey.

As a matter of fact if Ben Franklin had his way, the turkey was destined to become our national symbol before our forefathers talked some sense into good ol' Ben, so you see the turkey has a long-standing history in this country. While the turkey we see on the table this Thanksgiving between the football games and visiting relatives is what most "normal" folks celebrate this holiday with, there's another whole segment of the population that prefers a "Saltwater Turkey" for their holiday.

The phrase "saltwater turkey" goes back many years. I first heard the terminology many years ago from "Capt. Al" Lindroth, who owns and operates the party boat of the same name, first in Freeport and now from Point Lookout. Capt. Al has been fishing these South Shore waters of Long Island since just after World War II and has seen many a saltwater turkey come home to the table for a Thanksgiving feast.

The saltwater turkey has traded its wings, beak and penchant for seed and insects for gills, a giant mouth and a preference for clams and herring. Have you guessed what I'm referring to's a codfish! The cod goes back centuries to the first settlers in New England and cod too has a long history and even a book written on the subject.

As with turkey, cod have a faithful following too! Sinker bouncers who target cod lose plenty of sleep and I've seen them head to a party boat that won't even sail until 5 or 6 a.m., as early as midnight to get their favorite or lucky spot at the rail. Codfishermen are truly fanatical with their own "grapevine" set in place, where word of a good day spreads faster than gossip tossed about at a backyard fence. Codfishing is not for the faint of heart or fair weather fishermen.

The image of a true codfishermen has the air of an ol time, hard core salter with crinkled skin and well worn hands from years of cold weather. Well codfishing time is hear and I too will be losing sleep and finding my lucky place at the rail for my saltwater turkey this winter.

I wanted to pass along some of the real codfishing boats that will be sailing on regular schedules for cod. While most cod caught around our area average 6 to 12 pounds, there's plenty caught in the 20's and 30's with some of the real trophy cod of over 50 pounds too which is what we call a "soaker."

POINT LOOKOUT. The Capt. Al (516-623-2248) sails a special Thanksgiving Day cod trip every year, which departs at 6 a.m. and is guaranteed to return at 2 p.m., so you can get home in time for the holiday. This is an annual event for many true sinker bouncers and this is an early trip so to speak, since the Capt. Al won't start sailing regularly for cod until early December. This yearly Thanksgiving Day trip a year back scored a pair of cod over 55 pounds on the same trip.

If a party boat isn't your cup of tea, you can always hire a charter boat to codfish for you and five friends. A charter boat, or "six-pack" as we call them, is only licensed for six anglers to fish. The Capt. Bubba, is such a boat and sails from Freeport as well, with Capt. Al Tuzzolo at the helm. Many of you already know Al as the owner/operator of Hudson Point Fishing Station in Freeport. Al will be sailing for hire to codfish and you can reach Al at 516-867-9608.

Massachussetts: B-Fast Charters (781-293-6402): Codfishing on Stellwagen Bank and beyond, giant bluefin tuna and fly andlight-tackle fishing for striped bass On the web you canb find us at

Big Mac Charters (781-837-0308): Capt. Jim McFarland reports. They switch over to the deep water bottom fishing for the winter, spring and summer. Reach them on the web at