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Interviewee: Tony Sougstad

Role: Commercial Fisherman

Date of Interview: 4/3/97

Collection: Long Island Traditions

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: Tony Sougstad is a commercial trawler fisherman from Freeport, New York, and also makes nets, a skill he learned from traditional Italian and European fishermen during the 1960s and 1970s. Prior to becoming a fisherman and netmaker, Tony worked as an engineer, but says he prefers to work on the water where he can be his own boss. Tony is teaching is sons Cory and Joey to fish, and hopes they will be able to run a boat together one day.

Transcript: “If you know how to play checkers you can make a net. As far as making nets that work, we seldom fool around with new designs. Everything on this boat is basic, nothing is fancy, nothing is outlandish. In some of the bigger boats they've gone into different kinds of things, but as far as a boat this size, we stick with basics. We stick with we know what works.

This net is dragged along the bottom and held open with those set of boards over there, controlled with the length of cable that we let out behind the doors and the length of cable out in front of the doors. We pay a lot of attention to the cables and the trawl doors. It's the cable and the doors that are eighty percent of the catching power of this rig. If they're right, I wouldn't say no matter what you have in back of it is going to catch fish, that wouldn't be true, but if it's somewheres in the ballpark it will catch.

This net is made of plastic. The reason we use the plastic is because it doesn't hold as much grass and gunk as the nylon nets do. It'll slip right through a plastic net. This webbing comes in a bail. We cut it out and we seam the different parts of it together like, here's a seam right here, see? We cut it on tapers, it's all tapered. This one here is a two-to-one tapered net. It's also a four-seam net, and I like the four-seamed nets better than two-seam nets. They seem to catch better.”

To listen to Tony's interview, click here.