THE GOLDEN AGE OF MONTAUK SPORTFISHING

In June 1994, a group of veteran Montauk captains, all longtime friends, gathered around a table at the Tipperary Inn near the center of Montauk Harbor. Their faces were all permanently tanned, rutted, and scorched, evidence of lives lived on the ocean. For hours they laughed, told fish stories, remembered some of their best days fishing, and shared a few solemn moments. As witnesses to both the good and bad, they did not hesitate to criticize actions they thought had hurt the fishing in Montauk. All had been on the water the day the Pelican capsized, drowning forty-five souls, and each had played a major role as Montauk was transformed from an obscure commercial fishing port into a world-renowned sportfishing destination. 

 

The careers of these captains spanned the decades of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s when white marlin were plentiful, swordfish were caught only a few miles from the beach, giant bluefin tuna migrated through Block Island Sound every September, and sharks were so common that few boats even considered fishing for them. It was also an age when the notion of an angler profiting from a catch was never a consideration. It was an age of fishing only for sport, Montauk’s golden age of sportfishing.

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About the Author

Bill Akin began fishing in Montauk in 1950 with his father. In the following decades he fished the Atlantic coast from St. Thomas, V.I., to St. Johns, Newfoundland, and in the Pacific out of Costa Rica and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

He was on the Board of Directors of Wild Oceans, a marine fish conservation organization, from 1995 to 2012. Bill lives year-round in Montauk. He was President of the local environmental organization, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, for ten years and founded the classical concert series Music For Montauk in 1980.

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