by Capt Gene Kelly


In 1986 the New York Department of Environmental Conservation closed the New Yorks striped bass fishery, supposedly because of concerns about a high pcb content in the fish. The striped bass fishery at that time was not in the best of shape, and that could also have been an underlying reason. Although recreational anglers could fish for and catch bass, they could not keep any. The reason for shutting down the entire fishery may have been that there would have been quite an uproar had only the commercial sector been affected. As it was, the repercussions of the shutdown were quite severe across Long Island, but especially here in Montauk, where the entire fall season had been traditionally geared toward striped bass fishing. Charters were virtually non-existant. In the past, anglers would flock to the east end of the island to stock up their freezers. A catch and release type fishery, however, was an entirely different matter.

With the 1986 fall season already written off, it was decided to stage a protest type demonstration, to try and convince the powers to be that some accommodation be reached allowing the fishery to be reopened the following year. The protest would involve speeches by local politicians, charter boat operators and others who were affected by the ban, but the highlight of the demonstration, the hook that would attract the media, would involve the displaying of illegal striped bass. We were all new to this type of operation, but about a month was spent in planning, with the most important consideration being the date and time that the event would be staged. I forget the exact date, but it was set up for a mid-week day around the middle of October, at about noon. The timing would be crucial, since the whole idea behind the demonstration was to attract attention. We wanted what we thought would be a slow news day to lessen the competition for the media coverage. And most important, we had to schedule it for a time that would allow the television crews to get their story, or rather our story, onto the six o'clock news. We wanted the coverage to be by the mainstream type reporters as opposed to the fishing type columnists.

We had done all our homework, and the date we had picked out appeared perfect. At the appointed time there were representatives from the three stations that covered New York City as well as all of the newspapers. Everything was going along according to schedule. Boats were lined up with signs and banners with catchy slogans. Speeches were being made, and anglers were being ticketed for their illegal fish, but things were too calm. There was no fire.

While I waited on my boat for my ticket, I saw that before the DEC enforcement officers would write up a protester, they would ask for identification. I decided that I wouldn't offer any proof of identity when they reached me, and see what would happen. What happened was that I was put in handcuffs. This was the spark that the demonstration needed. The speeches went on, but as I was being led away, all of the cameras and reporters followed behind. We had what I guess would be called a video bite, the footage that would insure that our story would make the evenings newscasts. I was elated. We were a hit. I was taken down to the police station, where I showed my drivers license and was ticketed, just like everyone else.

We had decided to hold a victory celebration at a bar across the street from the marina where the protest was staged, and when I arrived back there I was treated like a hero, with pats on the back, congratulations, handshakes, and best of all free drinks. There was a festive atmosphere. Everybody was laughing and having a great time. We were confident that our demonstration was a great success. Toward the end of the afternoon, after having too many drinks, I went home, intending to watch the end of the Mets play-off game against Houston, and then see myself on the news. But, that's where our whole plan fell apart. Every baseball fan will remember this particular day. The game went on for sixteen innings, well past the six o'clock news. Although our plans worked out to perfection, nobody watched the news that night. At least, nobody that I knew did. It was a great game, and in spite of the fact that I knew that I would be on the newscasts that evening, I watched the whole thing myself.












(mostly true)



THE PATCHMEN                                          by Capt Gene Kelly

GUATEMALA LIGHT                                     by Capt Gene Kelly

PARADISE ON EARTH                                   by Capt Bob Koliner

GUATEMALA GUY'S TRIP                             by Capt Gene Kelly

FOUR DAYS IN PANAMA                                by Capt Gene Kelly

ONE MAGIC NIGHT                                         by Capt Bob Koliner

THE GREAT WHITE SHARK ROBBERY          by Capt Gene Kelly

THE RAGING QUEEN                                       by Capt Gene Kelly


COSTA RICA TARPON - CIRCA 1972                 by Capt Gene Kelly

JUST ANOTHER FISH STORY                            by Capt Gene Kelly

RETURN TO COSTA RICA                                 by Capt Gene Kelly

MONTAUK                         Artcle in Marlin magazine September 2011

COSTA RICA - IT’S NOT JUST FISHING           by Capt Gene Kelly

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Capt Gene Kelly

Tropical Fishing Adventures

PO Box 2104, Montauk, NY, 11954

631 668 2019


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