Sportfishing Adventures with Capt. Jerry McGrath

Capt. Jerry with fish



About the Captain

At age 3, Jerry McGrath was introduced to the world of fishing while in a rented boat out of Bayville, NY. For many, 23 is remembered as Michael Jordan's jersey number, but to Jerry it was the number of winter flounder that his father, Al, had helped him capture on the first day of a long fishing career. After countless excursions with his dad while fishing the party boats and rental skiffs from Sheepshead Bay to Orient Point, Jerry eventually, in 1977, wound up calling Montauk his home port by operating as a pinhooker (a commercial fisherman who catches fish by rod and reel only) in his own private craft.

In 1980, Jerry obtained his six passenger captain's license from the United States Coast Guard and began operating his own charterboat, the Nostalgia II. Capt. Jerry would also work with a Montauk regular, Capt. Bill Ricca (Alyssa Ann), as a fill in skipper and first mate.

During the mid-Eighties, Jerry was offered the job of teaching the science of sportfishing to adults in the Shoreham Wading River Community Education Program. What he thought to be a one-shot-only-attempt resulted in two decades worth of instructing. In 1994, the Suffolk County Association for Continuing Community Education recognized his efforts by naming him "Teacher of the Year." Capt. Jerry currently teaches the SPORTFISHING ON LONG ISLAND program for the Suffolk County Department of Parks in Hauppauge, NY. In addition, Jerry presents his programs to many public school classes, libraries, and fishing organizations. It's quite clear that Jerry has an affinity for sharing his love of fishing, along with a lifetime of knowledge and experiences, with his students.

Jerry has written fishing articles for The Fisherman and Nor'east Saltwater magazines, as well as for other outdoor publications.

In the year 2000, he was appointed Northeast spokesperson for the Tanaku Fishing Lodge in Elfin Cove, Alaska. Currently, Jerry represents the lodge and gives presentations on fishing in Alaska at trade shows in the New York area.

In 2002, the videotape, SPORTFISHING ON LONG ISLAND with Capt. Jerry McGrath, was produced by Mike Malkush Productions. The tape is in its second production phase and also recently came out on DVD.

Capt. Jerry resides in Wading River, NY with his wife, Cathie (the Admiral), and their children, Daniel and Darcie.

The North Shore Sun, February 2009:

Hanging next to the front door of the blue house, where the welcome mat is shaped like a flounder, is a small sign. 

The sign is handmade, but it says everything: "A fisherman lives here with the catch of his life."

This is the home of a man who's a fisherman to the core, a man whose life has been defined by his passion for the sport.

"I've been fishing all my life, and I'm 61 years old," says Jerry McGrath, whose house is reached by a driveway guarded by two stone sailor sentinels. "My dad had me out there when I was 3 1/2."

His hobby has seen him through all stages of life, from learning the basics with his father, to captaining his own boat, to today, when he spends most of his time teaching others how to do what he loves. Beginning Feb. 23 Mr. McGrath will teach a 10-week sport-fishing course offered through the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation at the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge. He has designed the classes, which begin at 7:30 p.m. each Monday, to educate novices as well as the more advanced anglers in all areas of fish finding, bait and lure selection, chumming, fishing locales and "hot spots," anchoring, tackle selection, knot and rig tying, and safety.

Mr. McGrath's passion for fishing stems from fishing with his father. "That was something we really shared together," he said.

His dad's technique was never sophisticated. "He was kind of a hack of a fisherman," he said. "But he loved it, and he shared it with me, and I love it."

A fifth-grade teacher for 30 years at Wading River Elementary School, he also followed in his father's footsteps by teaching children about fishing.

For 28 of his teaching years, he coordinated an annual fifth-grade fishing trip, a tradition he continued into retirement. Now he does four trips every year with the Middle Country School District, and is hoping to snag a grant that will allow him to restart the trips at Wading River Elementary. Drawing on a lifetime of experience as well as decades of summers and weekends spent as a commercial and charter fishing boat captain, he also teaches and talks about fishing as a guest speaker in classrooms and at libraries.

These days, Mr. McGrath enjoys teaching others and watching people catch fish more than he likes doing it himself. "I like to put smiles on people's faces," he said.

But it all comes back to his dad.

In Baiting Hollow, where the family owned a cottage, Mr. McGrath's father was known as "Uncle Al, the kiddies' pal." When Mr. McGrath was serving in Vietnam, he said his father would take kids out fishing with him, teaching them how and fostering their love of the sport.

"That's what I've done, but in a much wider scope," Mr. McGrath said. "It's a good feeling to say you had a good influence on someone's life, whether direct or indirect, and steered them in the right direction." 

Newsday, January 2002:



2005 - Questions?