Gary Persan, a commercial fisherman in Montauk for many years, died on Oct. 19 in Melbourne, Fla., following a head injury resulting from a fall at home. He was 63 and had suffered from chronic Lyme disease, which left him disabled in recent years.
His brother Robert Persan said he had been among the first Long Islanders diagnosed with the illness in the 1970s.
Born in Mineola on Dec. 14, 1949, to Edgar Persan and the former Betty Sanders, Mr. Persan attended school there and began to visit his family’s summer house in Montauk in the 1960s.
He started fishing on sport fishing boats there in the early 1970s, first for sharks, and later moved on to “pinhooking,” or commercial fishing with a rod and reel, his family said. He was often the most productive pinhooker in commercial striped bass fishing. His brother recalled a time in the mid-1980s when he caught a near record-size 82-pound striped bass near Montauk. “He just knew how to catch fish,” Robert Persan said. “A fish that some commercial fisherman would take hours to reel in, Gary would have in the boat in 15 minutes.”
He was also highly regarded in the commercial tuna industry, and would spend days in the Canyons off Montauk on his boat Stay Away.
Increasing competition and restrictive regulations spurred him to leave Montauk with his wife, the former Mary Fagen, and move to Key West, where he fished the nearby Dry Tortugas, and then to Melbourne Beach to fish the kingfish migrations.
“His fishing skills can’t be overstated, but Gary also had a great sense of humor and a soft heart,” Robert Persan said, explaining that his late brother had countless friends and gained the respect of lifelong fisherman up and down the coast. “He once gave a young fisherman the last 10 dollars in his pocket,” and when asked why, Mr. Persan replied, “He had less than I had.”
Mr. Persan is survived by his wife, and a son, Michael Persan, both of Melbourne. He also leaves two younger brothers, Brian Persan of Montauk and Robert Persan of Sag Harbor, as well as five nieces and nephews. His parents died before him.
Mr. Persan was cremated. His family plans to hold a memorial service and spread his ashes in the rips off Montauk at a later date.