Walter Koscrizky wrapped up work at the tool shop Saturday afternoon but he was on edge even before he arrived home.
"I eat dinner. Then wife says "Take a nap." But I can't sleep. Finally at 9 o'clock wife says, 'Go. You're not going to sleep anyway.'
And so, at the end of the six-day, 58-hour work week Koscrizky has followed for the last two decades, he gathered his fishing gear, maneuvered out of Philadelphia and headed for the Jersey Shore.
He arrived in the seaside town of Brielle at 11 and waited for the big boat Jamaica to return from its nightly whiting and ling run. When it did he strode briskly aboard and claimed his favorite spot at the port stern quarter.
He watched as the other anglers filed in. By 2 a.m. there were 35, about what Capt. Howard bogan expected for this special deep run after pollack, cod and hake.
As 20-knot breezes spanked the seawalls and brilliant stars cluttered the sky above the empty highway overpass, Bogan ordered the anglers onto the dock.
"Roll call, everybody out."
He called off the names and collected $10 to cover the biggest cod and biggest pollack pool. The $50 charter fee already had been collected with the mail reservations.
At 20 minutes to 3, as te mainspring wound down on New Jersey weekend and Sunday morning crept home, the big diesels on the 125-foot Jamaica roared, lines were sprung and Bogan eased her off into the choppy inlet.
There was a buzz among the men out for this hard night's fishing, but Koscrizky wasn't having any of it.
"Small crowd. You know what that means? It means the fishing stinks."
Then he disappeared into the crowd of anglers. Within an hour most were asleep, huddled on and under the simple benches, hard asleep in the churning sea as the deep aluminum hull pounded through high swells at 20 knots.
At first light I woke and looked east; orange rays kissed the endless blue water. I couldn't believe my eyes. Dead center in the orange semicircle of rising sun, a huge fish broke water, it's entire perfect body airborne, its V-tail flapping, and came down with a thunderous splash I thought I could feel, although I couldn't hear it.
"Must be seeing things," I thought.
Later I learned it was not a fish at all but a playful whale, common here in spring.
An hour later the engines slowed and Bogan's mates tossed out buoys, marking a wreck he had found on the ocean floor 80 miles out to sea.
We anchored laboriously in the swells, then Bogan gave a toot on the ship's horn and anglers raced for their stations.
I let my rig - a shiny 16-ounce diamond jig for the bottom with a hooked surgical hose teaser three fee above it - plunge 200 feet.
Following instructions I engaged the reel just as it hit bottom and began cranking to speed, bringing the double lure back up.
There was an immediate strike, light but sure, and I cranked harder. Then there was another, this time hard and heavy. Snagged? No, the rod tip bounced and line peeled off the big baitcasting reel.
I pumped and heaved and pumped and heaved and in five minutes, my arms exploding with fatigue, a small pollack showed on the surface. The mate came with the gaff. He reached below the little fish and drove the gaff home - not into the four-pounder but into a 25-pound fish houng on the bottom lure.
So the fishing stinks.
Bogan kept us on that yrechk a good hour and those that could take it kept fishing and hauled as many as 10 big pollock out apeice.
Others were hitting big cod. 30 pounds and up, with less frequency.
The action slowed, Bogan tooted again and set off to another spot.
Inside, Koscrizky was beside himself.
"First hit. I have him, but he gets off. I never believe that happened. Then I go again, and I have big fish, but line parts. Brand new lines. In all my years, I never have line part like that I'm sick with this. I got no fish."
Through the day Bogan took us to wreck after wreck and each time the first half-hour was like picking giant, ill-tempered babies from the carriages. The fish were ready to bite. By 2 p.m. the big boat was sitting lower in the water. Arms and stomach muscles were burned out. The all-in signal sounded.
I found Koscrinzky in the stern, filling a huge wooden box with fish. But he was having two monsters out for the betting pool. "I got a winner," he said.
Right His biggest was the biggest pollack and the mate came back straightaway with the $105 pool prize. Koscrizky tipped each mate $5 and pocketed the rest.
Then his big square face smiled, "I have deal with wife. She lets me fish and if I win pool, she gets money.
"Now," he said, "you drink with me some vodka."
The Bogans of Brielle are almost East Coast legends for the daring deep sea trips they've run since 1934. They fish all day, all year, every day if the weather permits. It takes a gale to hold them back.
For information on this Cadillac of headboat trips, write Howard Bogan, 32 Crescent Dr., Brielle, N.J.