Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fishing Legend Frank Mundus Dies at 82

"Farewell and adieu to ye fair Spanish ladies, farewell and adieu ye ladies of Spain!"

The scene in which actors Roy Schieder and Richard Dreyfuss watch Robert Shaw drunkenly belt out this tune in the cabin of Captain Quint's worn fishing boat just before the shark attacks is a contemporary film classic.

For a cinema-addict like me it was particularly sad to learn that Montauk sport fishing captain Frank Mundus passed away (pictured above left) from complications from a September 6th heart attack. The NJ-born angler was a legend on the Jersey Shore and and Robert Shaw's searing on-screen portrayal of him helped make "Jaws" the movie the defining summer blockbuster horror /thriller of the 70's.

Newsday writer Robert Wargas wrote an excellent obituary on the Newsday.com site.

A buddy of mine from Colt's Neck, NJ told me he knew a NJ fisherman who said Mundus would troll his boat around the carcasses of dead whales to find Great Whites - he'd jump out and walk on the carcass, in open sea even with large sharks feeding on it. He liked to use pureed whale blubber in the special chum mix he used to attract sharks. He was nuts, and I mean that with the most sincere admiration.

Don't take my word for it, Mundus wrote "Fifty Years a Hooker" in 2005, a book chronicling his numerous sport-fishing adventures.

It's kind of sad seeing characters like this fade, men who come from the generation forged in the depression. I heard an NPR interview with some of the shrimp boat captains in Louisiana; talking about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the industry.

Higher fuel costs and more profits from each pound of shrimp going into the pockets of middlemen are just some of the factors that are driving shrimp fishermen with family ties to the industry going back generations in some cases, away from their boats and nets forever.

You simply can't replace some of that knowledge and experience, and our culture will be the lesser for it. Fishing has been a staple industry in cities, towns and villages in the United States since it's inception as a nation.

Men like Frank Mundus are one of a kind but people will at least glimpse the spirit of what he was like when they watch Jaws. A movie with an immense impact on our culture and one that will be watched and enjoyed as long as film remains a relevant medium that entertains, teaches and reveals.

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