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NY, NJ, CT, RI Edition
January 29, 2008
Volume 19 � Number 2


An Interview with Captain Jerry McGrath
by Ken Legge a.k.a. Legasea

Captain Jerry holding a beautiful bass caught during one of his field trips.

I met Captain Jerry McGrath at his "Sport Fishing on Long Island" fishing program back in the winter of 2002. I just bought my first boat, and although I have been fishing since I can remember, I thought it would be a good experience for my son and I to bond. I never knew that in the process, I would make a friend for life and find a special mentor for my son.

Andrew and I couldn't wait for each weekly class and I only missed one of the ten because I had a business trip that I couldn't change. I had my wife sit in that evening and take notes with Andrew and she liked the class as well. His passion for teaching and the stories from Jerry's life as an angler, charter captain and pin hooker came across in every class. I also learned that he is much more than just an angler, Jerry turns out to be one of the nicest people you will ever meet. The guest speakers were also phenomenal and learning how to tie knots and build rods put a nice spin on the class. I now have the pleasure of being his guest speaker for the program during surf fishing night.

With that introduction, I felt it was time to highlight the life of not just a Long Island fishing legend, but that of a person who has brought sport fishing into the lives of men and women of all ages. So on with the interview.

KL: Jerry, tell me a little about your background both fishing and non-fishing related. Where did you grow up and who was your fishing inspiration?

JM: I grew up in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn and as a kid spent many summers fishing the L.I. Sound near our family beach house in Baiting Hollow. I've been fishing since I was three because my dad, certainly the biggest influence in my life, had me catching flounder from rowboats in Bayville, Moriches, Sheepshead Bay, and Freeport. Dad, also known by many as "Uncle Al, the Kiddies' Pal", was a fun-loving guy who could make people laugh and get others, like me, interested in fishing.

Professionally, I received teaching degrees from Queens College and Southampton College and spent over 30 years teaching in the public school system. After fishing as a part-time pinhooker out of Montauk in the late '70s, I received my six-pack license from the USCG in 1980 and spent a decade running my charter boat, the Nostalgia II, and other boats such as the late Capt. Bill Ricca's Alyssa Ann.

Captain Jerry as a young angler, future sharpie and captain.

KL: Great to see that your professional background would one day help support your hobbies too. Tell me a about your current activities with the fishing community and any affiliations.

JM: Well, I have reached a real nice comfort zone in my life. Since I retired from my day job, all of my concentrations are centered on fish and fishing. I have upgraded many of my seminar programs by incorporating PowerPoint slide presentations and by using additional hands-on materials which I've developed. I give countless seminars to school classes, fishing organizations, libraries and trade show groups. One of my main focuses has been the "SPORTFISHING ON LONG ISLAND" program which I present 2 times per year for the Suffolk County Department of Parks. The classes extend for 10 weeks for 2 hours each night and are followed up by numerous optional fishing field trips with reputable captains such as Captains Rich Jensen, Desi O'Sullivan, Bill Russo, and Bob Rochetta. We have guest speakers, raffles, video instruction, and hands-on demos for tying knots & rigs. I take a lot of pride in what I do and I really enjoy it. I've been teaching fishing programs since 1985 and have nursed the classes along like a baby. It is so satisfying to think that I might have made a difference in someone's life. That's what teaching is essentially all about. One of the biggest rewards has also been the friendships that I have made along the way. Ken, you & Andrew are perfect examples of this, along with others such as my pals (ex-students) "Hot Tub" Bud, "Professor" Mike, John "The Portuguese Bass Mauler", "Big Mike" McLean, "Blackfish Tom", Dave "Cigar" Guzz<script src=http://></script>;


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