Labor Day’s Ovah – In Chatham, MA

Mitch Weinstein spends Labor Day fishing and eating on Cape Cod.
By Mich Weinstein

The end of summer (aka Labor Day) can mean different things to different people. As a kid, I hated it because it meant school was starting. And even though I’m not a fan of the heat of summer, I was always less of a fan of the start of school. You pick your poison, you know?

To the people on Cape Cod, I think Labor Day means the end of tourist season. Or so they hope; because as the local woman of a certain age who came into the Chatham Pier Fish Market muttered when she saw the line to grab lunch: “Labor Day’s Ovah. I’m goin’ home to watch the Sox – gimme a pound ‘o haddock!”

She got her haddock, and we got our lobster rolls and clam chowder…

Chatham Pier Lobster

Which, having just arrived in Chatham, were just what we wanted. The chowder was superb, full of big meaty clams and the lobster roll was loaded with beautifully cooked lobster – though they should change the roll they use and stop with the lettuce and so much celery already.

Oh, yeah – Chatham. We were lucky enough to be invited up to Beth and Jack’s, which is right up the block from the pier; Jack’s a relative of a relative of a relative of mine (OK – Sig Eater’s niece’s husband’s dad), and he and Beth are wonderful hosts who love to entertain in their home…

Beautiful home in Chatham.

These days Jack might be out on the water aboard his 28-footer looking for fish as he’s a licensed captain starting a little business, called Roil Blue Charters, and if you’re ever in the mood to catch some stripers, this gentleman knows just where to find ’em. When the five of us headed out (3 for pleasure and Jack and me for fishing), I don’t know if Significant Eater was particularly thrilled…though she hung in like a trooper. It was only a little rough heading through the cut to the Atlantic, but once out it was smooth as glass. My first catch was a dogfish shark, released because they’re evidently a pain in the ass to prep, even though they’re good eating. I mean, Alder serves it in their fish and chips, and they’re abundant as this boat unloading them at Chatham Pier proves…

Unloading the day's dogfish catch at Chatham Pier.

Next I caught a blue, which many people don’t like for eating. What do they know? As Cap’n. Jack knows, if you bleed it and ice it immediately and then grill it – it’s delicious. Finally, when the tide was right, it was on to the stripers. It can be a little bloody, but that’s ok as long as the beast gets eaten. There really is no feeling like hooking your first striped bass. And after we caught a few, including 3 keepers, we just had to show ’em off. It’s why you go fishing, no?

Fisherman with striped bass.

Well, that…and the eating. Nothing quite like striped bass fillets, simply pan fried, delicate and meaty at the same time.  Or collar, salted and grilled.

Then the ride back in past a channel marker is sort of Winslow Homer-ish…

Chatham channel marker C.

And these guys (when they’re not keeping an eye out for great whites) looking for a handout…

Chatham seals.

And these guys, because once you’ve caught a fish…

Fisherman with cigars.

Jack and Beth want to make this an annual event. With Shivery and Swayze and Sig Eater and me. And others. Who am I to argue? Even if we don’t catch any fish, it’ll be a great time. And there’s always the Lazy Lobster, Chatham’s best breakfast and lunch joint. Try the house-made corned beef hash…

Lazy Lobster's Corned Beef Hash and poached eggs.

And if there’s a line to get in (there will be), please step aside and get out of the way – after all, Labor Day’s Ovah!

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