Good ol’ Montauk, NY. A quaint drinking village with a fishing problem. Winter population of a few thousand or less. Summer population around tens of thousands or more. The ebbs and flows of the population growth have been fluctuating since the days of Carl Fisher in the 1930s. What has been consistent during the decades since has been the hardworking, blue-collar commercial fishing community.
Many have been attracted to Montauk because of the benefits this industry can provide, but it’s not for the faint of heart or anyone that lacks perseverance. I was recently fortunate enough to have a few of the local commercial fisherman allow me on their boats and tell me a few stories about their times on the sea. Before you jump, I’d like to say thank you to the men and women of the Montauk commercial fishing industry and the families that support them.
Dave Aripotch | F/V Caitlin & Mairead
GM: What made you become a commercial fisherman?
DA: I was clamming in Babylon and I liked it, I knew from a kid I was going to be a fisherman. I grew up on an island and my next-door neighbor was a bayman, so I would help him, I really liked it. I fell in love with it actually very early on. I always considered myself fortunate to have found a job that I love this much.
GM: What do you like the most about commercial fishing—your favorite story or memory?
DA: I really enjoy it all. I have gotten really burnt out on the politics side of it, but I really like it all. I have had some pretty savage trips, money-wise, 30 hours non-stop and more money than I have ever made in my life…thinking, “Holy smokes! This is excellent.” I have had some really tough times too, my boat almost sank 50 miles offshore three winters ago, but I love all of it!
I have had some pretty savage trips, money-wise, 30 hours non-stop and more money than I have ever made in my life…thinking, ‘Holy smokes! This is excellent.’
GM: What is your scariest moment while out at sea fishing?
DA: Having the boat almost sink. The engines were shut down, the engine room was full of water, and I am waiting for the coast guard to drop me a pump, I am looking at the bottom machine and there was a giant school of porgies right under the boat. They were two bucks a pound and I couldn’t even set the net. I didn’t have any engines.