Kenny Bouse described how he and his brother began their fishing careers in Montauk 62 years ago this way:
“We took off from Bay Shore on an old ’51 flathead Harley. We didn’t know where the hell we were going. We got to the Lighthouse. I said, ‘What do we do now that the road stops.’ We found some Bubbies haulseining and they told us how to get to the docks.”
“My brother Davy Crockett scored a job with George McTurk on the Frieda M. I got a job right away on the High Seas, a Florida boat.” The late David Bouse, who served with the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team, precursor to the SEAL teams, later served as mate to the Montauk Monster Man, Capt. Frank Mundus, on the infamous shark-fishing boat, Cricket II.
Captain Bouse will be honored as a fixture of the Montauk fishing community during the annual Montauk Grand Slam charity tournament for inshore species held from Uihlein’s Marina and Boat Rental on Saturday and Sunday. The event benefits the East Hampton Kiwanis Club and the Montauk Friends of Erin.
Captain Bouse should be honored for living a life right out of a Hemingway novel.
“I worked on the docks in Bay Shore. Got my first job on a boat when I was about 9 years old. In ’53, I went in the Army. I was in the Far East and ended up in Germany with the 18th Combat Engineers. It was the cold war and we worked with explosives on the East Zone outskirts.”
“I came back to Montauk but then started bumming around. Did a tour in Cuba,” he said, hinting at some mercenary training work alongside of “ex-Germans, Americans, Foreign Legion deserters.”
“I fished here, and then I would go south. I did a tour down in Australia in the early ’60s with a guy running a boat out of Cairns in the north of Queensland for black marlin. It’s the tropics, 115 degrees in December. The rain forest comes down out of the mountains to the coast. Over the mountains is the Outback — desolate. They say on a clear day you can see the mountains of New Guinea, but I never did. I was up there on a motorcycle,” he said, no surprise to Montaukers. “I’ve been riding for 70 years.”
Bouse said, he ran private boats in Florida and the Bahamas. “Young Frank Tuma talked me into charter fishing. He got me a slip at Duryea’s,” Bouse said, referring to the dock next to the town’s commercial wharf at the end of the West Lake Drive extension. Captain Bouse was as familiar on the Peggy S, a boat he fished out of Montauk for 37 years, as he is on his Harley now.
“I stopped fishing two years ago. I got sick four years ago — cancer. The doctor said ‘You’re in stage four. You got about a month. Being a realist, I didn’t panic. Shit happens. I did what they said — chemo — and I’m still around. I could have kept fishing, but my heart wasn’t into it. I felt like I wasn’t giving my customers my best.”
That’s debatable, of course. Fishing and listening to the stories of the soft-spoken seaman with a world of experience would surely make for a good day.
Speaking of good days, the West Lake Marina in Montauk reports very productive tuna fishing offshore in and around Block Canyon. Bigeye tuna in the 100-pound range were biting last week with smaller yellowfin mixed in.
The tournament from Uihlein’s this weekend will be well attended by local fishermen, and if things remain the same as they’ve been in recent days, it will be well attended by fish.
Those competing in the tournament are judged by the heaviest aggregate weight of the four biggest fish caught of the targeted species: fluke, striped bass, bluefish, and black sea bass. False albacore are not among the targeted fish, but they, too, are around, according to Harvey Bennett of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett.
Falsies have been taken around the Ruins on the north side of Gardiner’s Island. Bennett is also crowing about the number and size of the porgies in Gardiner’s Bay, and he has announced he’s back in the light-tackle and fly-fishing charter business.