Digest — October 2003
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
King of the Giants
|For five decades one man has fished for giant tuna harder and better than most anyone. And he ain’t pullin’ lines yet.|
Long Islander Oscar Amoroso ventures to New England each year to catch mammoth-size, 130-pound-reel class, turbocharged “footballs” (a.k.a. giant bluefin tuna). He says he’s bagged numerous “giant fish” that have topped 1,000 pounds; these are fish that can make grown men cry for their mommies after they’ve spent some quality time on the grunt-and-groan end of the rod. A guy who does this type of fishing with just one mate onboard a majority of the time, Amoroso could’ve made Hemingway flinch in a staring contest. And on top that, he’s 73 years old.
Having heard about this local legend, I wanted to learn more about him, so I spent a day with Amoroso this past spring aboard his 45-foot Hatteras, Marlin, which he was readying for the giant-tuna season (July through October) out of Gloucester and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We stood in the cockpit of his still-shrinkwrapped boat with a cold rain pouring down. Amoroso gazed at the falling droplets through the makeshift doorway overlooking the canal of Yachtsmen’s Cove Marina in Freeport, New York. He held a burning Marlboro in his tough-looking, weathered left hand, and as the smoke worked its way out the doorway and down the mist-covered canal, he took me on an H.G. Wells-like trip through his fishing past.
“I was fishing fresh water on Long Island before I was a teenager. I’d bend a needle and use oatmeal and dough for bait,” he told me, as he illustrated baiting the needle with his hands. But catching carp and sunnies wouldn’t hold this angler’s interest for too long. Amoroso eventually discovered the fun of spearfishing under a bridge near his Atlantic Beach home, his first taste of saltwater fishing. All he needed was a mask and a snorkel, and he was good to go. But he would soon find out that there were bigger fish to fry.
It was around 1948 when Amoroso found his way onto a boat and learned to fish at the nearby Mudhole, a well-known giant-fish area, several miles off the New Jersey coast and easily accessed by both New York and New Jersey anglers. “We used to fish [giant tuna] here,” Amoroso said, adding, “We’d let them go.” My ears perked up like a dog recognizing its name. “Let them go?” Then again, these were the golden days of giant fishing, before bluefin flesh commanded a high price at the market. But just as Amoroso’s appetite for big-game fishing had been whetted, he joined the Navy and was assigned to Submarine Attack Squadron 24 based out of Norfolk, Virginia. During his Navy tenure, Amoroso said he didn’t really fish.(I guess it was a little tough to troll off the back of an aircraft carrier.) But he did have a boat and trolled—sort of.
This article originally appeared in the September 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.