The sea robins came in slowly at first. They nipped at our bait, stealing cut strips of clams and bunker right out from under us. We mistook the tugs we felt on our lines as nibbles from legitimate fish. Fish we would hold up with pride for a photograph, then kill and eat.
When Mike reeled in the first one he made a sour face and said, "sea robin." I said, "What?"
I don't remember sea robins in New England. It looked exotic and horrible in the bright light of day. I wanted to eat it all the same.
"What do they taste like? Can you eat them?" I asked the skipper.
"First of all, it's like filleting a tennis ball," he said. "But Chinese people say they're an aphrodisiac. I guess they say that a lot."
I never found out if they were an aphrodisiac. An hour later we started catching more noble fish, striper and blues. By the end of the day we had 100lbs of fish to take home. The skipper filleted the blues and stripers on the dock in Cold Spring Harbor. After he cut away the flesh, he let the remaining carcasses and fish heads drop into the water. They wafted down to the bottom where the crabs picked the skeletons clean.