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Freeport Nautical Mile - TravelStorys

Long Island Back Story

Location Trip Time Travel Type
New York 1 hour

Freeport Nautical Mile

Welcome to NY Back Story, where you can hear stories about local traditions. Here on Long Island we have several interesting places, including Freeport's Nautical Mile. Listen to Cory Weyant, a bayman, who grew up on the Nautical Mile during the 1960s and worked on the fishing boats. He died tragically in 2011. Twenty years ago where there was many more small trawlers in my area, which I've been brought up on this block since I was 2, now 47 years old. To where there was many more trawlers to where they used to sell the fish to the people. Fish was much more accessible. Fish was much more abundant and people would come down to this area. To where things now as it went from the 60's into the 70's there was still some fishermen, some fish markets, and into the 80s overfished. And then finally 90's. So many laws…to where the local fishermen can no longer keep up with it. There's no longer abundant amounts of fish. It has changed so dramatically. All our technology has finally caught up to us. But at the same time, being a commercial fisherman, if you didn't learn to adapt to your surrounding which I was brought up with, you could no longer be a commercial fisherman. Going from working on the small boats to working in fish markets to working on off-shore trawlers, to nowadays dealing with bait because there are so many more sport fishermen around. There's ten times the amount of what there was 20 years ago so now I've adapted to catching bait. What I always liked about fishing is that every day was different. When I grew up here on Woodcleft Ave, which I've lived since I was two, when I grew up here since I'm a little boy there was upwards – I've heard from the old timers which I've worked for – they say 60-70 boats, okay? Now, there's four. The ET – Tony Sougstad worked for him. Old Stonington, The Wertzes, The Little Saint Pete and the Old Terry Lee which was the Wertzes old boat. In the 60's and the 70's when I was growing up, up and down this block boats used to be sisted up, tied up to next to each other. They'd be 5, 6 deep. You'd meet guys from Cape May, Port Charles… Things have changed dramatically. Now we're kind of subdued. Clamming now and then, eeling, everything's almost done. We're in the winter now. It will be time to put all the traps on the dock. I'll crab til they go to sleep. The water's dropping down to about 47 right now. Had 15 bushel the other day but things are changing all the time. The white crabs are moving in and pretty soon, traps on the dock, haven't clammed in a week. I'll smoke my salmon for Christmas, my eels will all be sold, and that will be that. Codfish has disappeared, the whiting has disappeared, yellowtail flounder, so everything was beat up. Everything was pretty well beat up. Now as you can see they changed the block over. It's now a tourist trap. Walk up and down we look at the ambiance of the water. We'll serve you fish by the plateful. The days I wish in my mind, what I know was on tape or pictures from selling the fish off the boats, to looking at the party boats where you could walk on, to walking right into a real shuck house, the way they shucked the clams right there… I mean things have changed so dramatically it's crazy. But that's how it is. Ready for more stories? Next, we will go down the street to the site of the Scopinich boat yard. This program is funded by the NY State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Robert W Gardiner Foundation.

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