Bobby Huser stands at the wheel of his Nova Scotia-style lobster boat with a khaki captain’s cap on his head, a thin cheroot in his mouth. As the Teddy Boy and, later, the Top Notch cruise out of Montauk Harbor, dawn glints off the stainless-steel haulers that pulled untold numbers of pots from the sea for over 40 years.
It’s an indelible image for members of the Montauk fishing community, who knew the veteran lobsterman as Muskrat.
Capt. Robert E. Huser died at Southampton Hospital on Tuesday of complications from cancer. He was 69. A celebration of the popular fisherman’s life will take place this spring, the date and time to be announced.
He was born on Sept. 5, 1942, in Bridgehampton, a son of Peter Huser and the former Marguerite Ruppel. He grew up there, and one of his close friends was Carl Yastrzemski, the future Boston Red Sox star outfielder. “They grew up together and played together on the Bridgehampton Lions,” a Little League team, Captain Huser’s wife, Sandy, said on Tuesday.
He was a good baseball player and had thoughts of going pro at one time, she said. Captain Huser was a lifelong New York Yankees and Giants fan. He also had a love of country music and rock ’n’ roll, which was known to blare from onboard speakers.
Bobby Huser met Sandy Donnell, a Maine native, in Montauk when he was working as a mate on Capt. Wally Drobecker’s charter boat, Skip II. They were married on Jan. 24, 1964.
Sandy Huser said her husband got into lobstering at the suggestion of her father, a Maine lobsterman who had pioneered various tricks of the trade. “He taught him how,” Ms. Huser said.
Bill Kelly of Montauk fished with Captain Huser off and on for more than 10 years. Yesterday, he recalled that all it took to convince Bobby Huser to make his living catching lobsters was the sight of the bounty that spilled from a lobster trap that his father-in-law had set from a rowboat during a visit to Montauk from Maine. When he hauled the pot to the surface it was filled with lobsters.
Mr. Kelly said Bobby Huser traveled to Maine and returned with a boat called Smokey and enough wood lath to make 100 pots. He remained content to fish the inshore waters from Gardiner’s Bay through Block Island Sound north to Cerberus Shoal, and three miles offshore on the backside. He sold most of his lobsters locally at Gosman’s D ock and the Perry B. Duryea and Son companies in Montauk and to Multi-Aquaculture Systems on Napeague.
“He was a good fisherman, an extremely well-prepared fisherman. He did his pot maintenance all winter, stuck to a strategy, and was successful with it,” Mr. Kelly said.
Mr. Kelly shed light on how Captain Huser got his nickname. He said that he, Captain Huser, and a fellow fisherman, Bruce Erikson, were jump shooting for black duck one evening when Captain Huser mistook a muskrat for a black duck. “Musky, old Muskrat. He was a Montauk classic,” Mr. Kelly said with a smile, adding, “I think I shot a rock once.”
“He was definitely focused,” Mr. Kelly said. “He maybe looked like he wasn’t breaking a sweat, but he had a routine that worked for him very well. I was lucky enough to have him take me under his wing and show me the ropes.”
Captain Huser was considered to be a lobsterman who respected other fishermen’s territory and gear.
In addition to his wife, Captain Huser is survived by his daughters, Kristi-Leigh Lyon of Estero, Fla., Kerrie Huser of Mount Sinai, and Dawn Field of Springs. He leaves a brother, Peter Huser of Sheridan, Ind., a sister, Jean Stringer of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Ms. Lyon said her father often repeated his idea of a perfect day: “Gaviola’s Market for a doughnut and coffee in the morning, a good day’s haul, then the I.G.A. for a six-pack of ‘red, white, and blues’ [Budweiser] and a box of Entenmann’s, then home to fire up the grill, a cigar, and life was good.”