There are two kinds of sport fish here at the mouth of the Connecticut river - striped bass and bluefish. Stripers live right up against the rocks of the breakwater and emerge to feed at dawn and dusk. They act surprised and indignant when hooked; some fight hard, for a little while, but they tend to give up easily. I always feel a little bad when I unhook stripers and I don't like to kill them. The look in their eyes is one of dumb innocence betrayed.
Bluefish are different. Bluefish fight with vicious fury, snapping at the wire leader and ripping line off the reel. They hunt in packs, slicing through the ocean in tight formation and tearing apart schools of baitfish. Striped bass are like big, goofy Golden retrievers; bluefish are saltwater wolves, built for speed and murder. I admire bluefish, and I kill them.
Bluefish never come in easy, but when I finally bring the fish close, I haul it onto the rocks, keeping my fingers clear of the jaws. Then I find a piece of driftwood and beat it over the head until its skull is crushed and the whole body shivers violently. I run the stick through the gills and out the mouth and carry it back down the beach. There's no better feeling in this world than cresting the dune on the path home at dusk, my arm starting to ache from the weight of a big fish, its tail dragging a path through the sand. Back home there are ooos and aahs, and I take the bluefish out into the yard, scale it with a sharp knife, slit the belly and cut big thick filets. My Dad bakes the filets in the oven with olive oil and lemon juice and we eat the fresh, strong-flavored meat with green beans and corn on the cob.