Legendary Commercial Fisherman Lou Puskas Jr. Dies

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The professional fishing marketplace, Barnegat Mild, family and buddies have dropped a outstanding fisherman in the passing of Captain Louis “Lou” Puskas, captain of the Olympic Javelin and component operator of the Viking Village docks. Puskas, age 89, died Sept. 2 at his home in Barnegat Light, surrounded by his loved ones.
Puskas has been described as “a legend” and a “fearless” fisherman by customers of the Barnegat Light professional fishing local community – he survived a few boats sinking under him and is credited for starting up the tilefish sector out of Barnegat Light-weight.
In a 2014 online video of Capt. Lou by David Kaltenbach, Puskas defined how he came to make Barnegat Mild his house. He was born in Rocky Hill near New Brunswick. His father cherished fishing and would convey him to fish Barnegat Bay, commencing when he was 6 many years old. He loved fishing so considerably that when he grew up and married Fran, he expended his honeymoon professional fishing out of Florida.
According to Barnegat Mild Mayor Kirk Larson, Puskas and his father have been both of those masons. “They developed quite a handful of of those tiny block homes in Barnegat Light-weight there is however a couple of standing.”
In the winters, Puskas and other individuals would fish for cod, but Russian factory trawlers were decimating the cod fishery for People in america. They could appear as near as 2 nautical miles offshore to fish.
With cod fisheries on the wane, the Barnegat Mild fisherman searched for a new fish to current market. “He was instrumental in receiving the tile fishery going,” reported Larson.
In accordance to one source, Puskas expended years searching for tilefish along the Hudson Canyon. The delicate-flavored fish had been a prominent catch in the 1880s but had because fallen off.
Although fishing with his good friend Nelson “Hammer” Beideman from Barnegat Light, he determined to discover the Hudson Canyon making use of “tub gear” of very long hand strains. They caught 3,000 lbs of tilefish and were being the matter of amazement when they returned to pack out at Lighthouse Marina.
He also was the first to fish the Georges Bank, with his extended-time associate, the late John Larson, and in 1973 they ordered the Viking Village docks.
“He was companions with my father for 50 or a lot more years,” claimed Mayor Larson.
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“He was a single of the very best fishermen all over,” he reported of Capt. Lou. “He begun the tile fishery, and he was instrumental in lobbying Washington and acquiring the 200-mile limit founded.
“It was a large fight the senators from the South didn’t want it for the reason that if we kicked out the Russians, then Venezuela and Colombia would kick out the shrimpers (from the U.S.). So it served some and harm some. It did get the Russians out of below I bear in mind likely out and which is all you could see as considerably as you could see – they had been there for cod fish and herring.”
A lot of fishermen nowadays were children on Capt. Lou’s boats. Kirk Larson was only 17 when he skipped college to go out fishing with Capt. Lou on the Gra-cee II, the initial time Puskas had a boat sink below him.
“It was March 25, 1972 I experienced skipped college to go fishing,” mentioned Larson. “When the boat caught fireplace close to midnight, there was almost nothing we could do but jump in the everyday living raft. It was an previous wooden boat. Fortunately I experienced gone to bed with my clothes on, I experienced my boots, and I was sporting an old flannel shirt. We had 4 or five several hours laying in that raft, and it was cold. When the sunshine arrived up, the Esso Chester, an oil tanker, saved us. It was a 700-foot ship, and they came together with to block the waves and the wind. They decreased a ladder, but we were being so cold our legs couldn’t transfer. They had contacted the Coast Guard, and a Coast Guard cutter picked us up and took us to Governor’s Island (in New York), where Fran and my mother picked us up. It was pretty an experience.”
Puskas survived two much more sinkings – in 1976, when the Gra-Cee III sank in Barnegat Inlet and was salvaged, and once more in 1983, when the Gra-Cee III sank 110 miles offshore and the crew escaped in a new daily life raft geared up with an emergency situation-indicator radio beacon that alerted the Coast Guard.
“Yeah, he was acquiring complications with sinking,” stated Larson. “But that’s mainly because he fished so tricky that he would go out even if there was a challenge. ‘We’ll fix it on the way out’ – that was his motto.”
(Image by Ray Fisk)
Soon after the Gra-Cee III sank, Puskas then fished for several decades on his boat Olympic Javelin.
“He was a excellent person and a tricky partier,” Larson remembered. “He liked to go out and dance he appreciated to set on his dancing shoes.
“We’re going to skip him.”
In afterwards many years, Larson and Puskas would generally chat about the sinking of the Gra-Cee II. “When he obtained dementia, when he noticed me he would constantly ask, ‘Didn’t I sink with you?,’ kidding all-around. He was a excellent outdated dude. He did not have an enemy in the planet I guess which is not a undesirable matter to take note when you are dealing with God.”
Puskas’ wife, Fran, will carry on as co-proprietor of Viking Village commercial dock with Marion Larson, John Larson’s widow.
A wake will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 9, from 3 to 9 p.m. at Viking Village, 1801 Bayview Ave. in Barnegat Mild.
In lieu of flowers, the household asks that a donation may perhaps be manufactured in his memory to the Barnegat Light 1st Support Squad, the Barnegat Mild Volunteer Fire Co. or St. Francis of Assisi Church in Brant Beach front.
— Pat Johnson

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