Let’s see – it was in the mid fifties. Me and Gene Kelly were high school kids then, and all that summer we were running around the beaches of Montauk trying to catch a bass. We sure looked like surf casters, ‘cause we had all the stuff. Plugs, plug bags, waders, gaffs, stringers - we had all kinds of gear, but we never caught anything. Each day we would stop at Johnny Kronuch’s Tackle Shop and ask poor old John the same questions. "Where’s all the fish? What are they  hitting? What color? What tide?" Sometimes, if he was in a good mood, we would be allowed in the back room, where we could watch Emma at the bench, tying rigs. Man, could she tie rigs. Then we would go fishing, at the Point, at North Bar, or maybe Ditch Plains or Caswells. Fish, sleep in the car for an hour, fish some more, but we never caught anything.

    Each morning we would watch the beach buggies drive by, some with big tails sticking out of their fish boxes, and we would wonder if we were ever going to catch a fish. Then, one night……It was fall already, September or October, and we hadn’t caught a fish all year. We were down at North Bar. It was pitch black. and the cold wind was howlin’, and right in our face. We’d been at it all day. "I’m going up" I said to Gene, "I had enough".. "See you up there" he said, "I’m gonna make a few more casts".

    My legs felt like lead by the time I trudged up to the bathroom in the parking lot. That was the warmest spot around. I propped myself up in the corner, and fell into a damp, uncomfortable sleep. When I awoke, Gene was standing in front of me. He was holding his hand out in front of him, all funny like, and there was blood on it. But he had this happy look on his face. "What happened to your hand"? I jumped up and asked. "Here, smell it" he said. Smell his bloody hand? What for? But I did and it smelt like fish. "It smells like fish!" I says, with surprise. "Take a look outside", he said. Outside the door, right by his rod and plug bag, on the ground, lay a big beautiful striped bass! Kelly caught a striped bass! Look at that fish! Three feet long. Wise old eyes. Big bucket mouth. Nice belly, nice girth. He later pulled the scale down to 18 lbs. A beauty! Gene had carried the fish by the gill plate all the way up the beach and up the trail from the North Bar to the parking lot. No wonder his hand was cramped and bloody. It was mostly fish blood, with a little Kelly blood mixed in. No matter. The prize was his.

    We drove down to Johnny Kronuch’s tackle shop in town, and proudly laid the bass on the lawn. It was about three or four in the morning, but that didn’t matter, we would wait. That was the thing to do if you were a Montauk surf caster, lay a fish on Johnny Kronuch’s lawn in the morning. You usually needed one around 30 or 40 pounds if you wanted to attract much attention. That morning however, we brought in the only fish. We got to prance around like peacocks and Kelly got to answer all the questions that we were always asking everyone else. "Where did you get him? What did he hit? What was the tide doing?" All that stuff. Kelly was awesome. He had passed, right before my very eyes, from adolescence to manhood by way of laying a fish on Kronuch’s lawn.

    Captain Gene Kelly has caught many fish since that day, and I’ve caught a few myself. We got one hundred years of fishing trips between the two of us, and if God Almighty were to let me relive a few of the finest hours, that night would be on my list. Betcha It would be on Kelly’s, too. And you know what? Some things never change. One thing’s the same now as it was fifty years ago. You can’t catch fish from the parking lot. You got to keep your line in the water.  

The old parking lot bathroom












(mostly true)




by Capt Bob Koliner

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

Capt Gene Kelly

Tropical Fishing Adventures

PO Box 2104, Montauk, NY, 11954

631 668 2019


Meet Capt Gene Kelly

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