by Russell Drumm East Hampton Press September 29, 2010
As anyone who visited the ocean over the weekend will tell you, the water was,
and continues to be, a beautiful light emerald green, and clear as quartz crystal.
It’s also warm, 77 degrees only 10 miles from shore, and filled with tropical and
Gulf Stream-migrating fish including those that fly.
“Bluefins, mahimahis, flying fish were spotted, and a lot of bait — mackerel.
The water is as clean as it gets,” cooed Joe Gaviola, who went shark fishing on his
Finest Kind boat on Sunday about 10 miles south of Montauk Point. About noon, in
the same general area, the threads of a great fish story were being woven aboard
the charter boats Montauk and Mistress II.
Capt. Mike Albronda of the Montauk had just begun towing a monster thresher shark
before hoisting it aboard when Bart Ritchie, captain of the Mistress II, radioed
to ask if he might move into the chum slick that had produced the big fish, Captain
Albronda answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, a rod bent deep on the
Mistress, bowing to a thresher that later tipped the scales at 372 pounds.
On Friday, Manny Puig of Ultimate Predator Productions went offshore on the Montauk
to swim with the sharks. Captain Albronda said that after a dusky shark was chummed
up, Puig entered the water to hand-feed it. The free-diver and crew realized the
big shark had swum into a plastic bag that was wrapped around its body, and was cutting
into the animal. Puig was able to free the shark from its plastic bondage.
Looking for the world's greatest salt water fishing, Capt Mike Albronda came to Montauk
on vacation and never left. That's not exactly true, but its not far off. He started
his career in fishing straight out of high school, mating on Captain Al Coley's BETTY
W out of Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. This was back in 1964, and he has been making
his living on the water ever since, except for a two year stint working for Uncle
In the summer of 1968, he and his wife took a busman's holiday, spending a week in
Montauk. He wasn't here to fish everyday, but he did manage to make one trip on Captain
Dick Vigilant's TRITON, which at the time was sailing as an open boat. The fishing
was great and Mike left his catch with the crew to sell. When Dickie asked if he
was coming back the next day Mike said he could only afford one trip.
Dickie didn't see that as a problem and invited him to fish for free, whenever he
wanted. All he had to do was leave the fish to be sold at the dock. That was the
beginning of Mike's life in Montauk. The next spring he returned as the mate on the
TRITON. Mike continued on as mate until 1972, when Dick decided to change over to
commercial fishing. That was no problem for Mike. He simply got another job, working
with Captain Paul Sundberg on his charter boat,
he MONTAUK. When Paul's wife died and he started to develop health problems, Mike
bought the MONTAUK.
The original MONTAUK was a big Chesapeake built wooden boat and was aging rapidly.
The upkeep was getting to be more than the boat was worth and in 1985, Mike sold
the old boat and brought a 41' fiberglass one, the SEAWEED, that formerly sailed
out of Connecticut. It wasn't as big as the old boat, but it was much faster and
more economical, both to run and to maintain. In addition it is a much larger and
more comfortable boat with a giant cockpit.
Mike sails out of DURYEA'S DOCK, with much of his business devoted to family groups,
and is especially good with kids.
When I started fishing in Montauk in 1969, there were about twenty charterboats,
all owned and operated by professional fishermen who were dependent on fishing for
their livelihood. Now there are over 80 licensed charterboats, with maybe a third
of that run by captains whose entire income comes from their boat. The rest either
operate as a hobby, to offset the expense of having a boat or on weekends, as a way
to supplement their income.
Don’t be fooled by a fancy website. Websites don’t catch fish. Full time experienced
fishermen catch fish.
I have now sailed full time from Montauk for 45 years, over 8000 trips. I have sailed
more shark trips than anyone else in Montauk. If you doubt me, check out some of
the articles included here, dating back to 1978.
When it comes time to book your trip, give me a call. You can’t succeed in the charterboat
business as long as I have without keeping your clients happy, something I have been
doing for a long time. If I’m booked for the date that you want, I’ll get you another
full time professional captain almost as good as me.