The old man from Newark lurches along the heated rail of the 59-foot headboat Paramount as six-foot seas walloped it broadside.
"You see that little (unprintable) on the end?" he hisses. "Well, next time he opens his mouth I'm gonna throw him overboard. He's gonna see how he likes to swim."
The little unprintable is a loud-mouthed interloper. Normally he would sail out of Belmar, the next harbor up the central Jersey coast. But today, with seas high and no real handle on where the fish are after four days of storm, the Belmar party-boat skippers have decided not to sail.
That sends a few stragglers down to Brielle, because someone from the all-year fishing fleet run by the hardly Bogan family goes out every day. And night.
The Bogans of Brielle have been running headboats out of Manasquan inlet since 1930 and they're built their reputation around disregard for hard weather and, some would say, common sense.
"Ocean fishing 365 days a year," heralds the sign at the entrance to Bogan's Basin, hard by the Route 35 bridge 15 miles south of Asbury Park.
"Well, we do miss a few days when the weather's real bad, said John Bogan III, whose grandfather started it all shortly after the stock market crashed. "But we believe that if a guy's going to drive all the way down from Newark or New York or Philly, he ought to know he's going to go fishing."
At 6:30 Capt. David Bogan, who runs the Paramount, has a scrap wood fire blazing in a trash can at the foot of the gangplank. The anglers start rolling in. They shell out their $14 for the all-day trip and hoist aboard their thick, aged boat rods, immense lunches and burlap sacks to carry their catch home.
It is going to be a day of searching for the fish. A vicious northeastter has kept all four of the Bogan's boats at harbor for the first part of the week. Now that the wind has shifted west no one is sure what's becoming of the schools of whiting the only schools around this time of year.
"We're waiting for the cod," says David Bogan. "But nobody's hit them yet."
Headboat fishing has its set of rules and regulations. One is that the early risers get the best spots. With that in mind I've arrived an hour ahead of schedule and tied my pole to the rail at the stern port quarter. That way, headboat veterans have explained, I'll be able to fish either to the side or straight back - wherever the tide is running.
Great theory, but the little unprintable knocks it quickly into a cocked hat. After an hour's run into the churning seas Capt. Bogan toots the whistle and all 15 anglers race to the rails. Immediately lines begin to foul, mine with a guy's on the starboard quarter.
"Lift your tip up, lift your tip up," he shouts menacingly, "Man, I could have had this done by now if you'd lift your tip up."
We untangle and I hurry back to my spot, to find it taken over by the little unprintable. I let it slid. Nothing biting anyway.
Three stops later we get into the fish, about 5 miles off the shore with 12-knot west winds slapping whitecaps off the swell crests.
We fish 50 feet down, with six onunces of lead and three hooks baited with herring chunks. The whiting like it and soon anglers are pulling up doubles.
The little unprintable shrieks every time someone fouls his line, which is frequently. He berates the old man from Newark. "Look at dis - you got me again. You don't know nothing about fishing. You got six ounces on that? Ah, my behind you get six ounces. You ain't got four. You don't know nothing about fishing."
"I got a 17-foot boat of my own," says the old man from Newark. "I don't have to take this crap from him."
We fill up burlap sacks and plastic buckets with whiting. Occasionally a shark smacks a hook and there is brief excitement. "I got a cod, I got a cod." But it never is.
At 3 o'clock comes a toot on the whistle from the bridge, Capt. Bogan has seen enough. Lines are reeled in and the anglers, chilled and bruised from the day's work, retreat to the heated cabin. There is a card game; others sleep with their heads on tabletops.
On the stern a few fishermen brave the ship's rolling and the cold to gut and scale the day's catch, heaving entrails over the stern to the screetching gulls.
It is 4 p.m. when we reach dock. Already the crowd is arriving for the 7 o'clock evening trip.