On the morning of September 16, 2021, The Fisherman’s senior editor Fred Golofaro passed away following emergency surgery to repair a ruptured aorta. He was just 69.
A member of The Fisherman Magazine staff since 1976, Fred previously had served as editorial director, associate editor, managing editor, associate publisher, and publisher. But as his coworkers would tell you, he will always be the heart and soul of the publication, if not the recreational fishing community as a whole.
Along with his responsibilities at the magazine, Fred also managed lengthy stints as a light tackle charter boat captain on Great South Bay and was one of the first in the modern era to guide anglers in the surf on Long Island. In an age of “pro staffers” it’s equally important to understand that Fred was also very much involved in helping manufacturers with product launches. There are very few pieces of dedicated surf equipment – rods, reels, lures, you name it – that didn’t first pass through Fred’s capable hands first in working with a multitude of manufacturers to ensure that gear was up to Striper Coast standards. He was never beholden to one, but loyal to all.
He was heavily involved in the all aspects of the fishing community for nearly four decades, serving on numerous federal, state and county advisory boards overseeing fisheries management and fishing access issues. He was an original member of the South Shore Estuary Preserve Committee, developed and managed The Fisherman’s Send-A-Kid Fishing and Build A Reef funds, established youth fishing camps in conjunction with Sea Grant, was a governor’s nominee to the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and was instrumental in development of the Robert Sweeney Sportfishing Center, Green Island Access Area and Jones Beach Construction Dock Fishing Site.
Over the years, Fred has also served as director of numerous fishing tournaments throughout Long Island, conducted hundreds of seminars and lectures on all aspects of saltwater fishing, and hosted a News 12 Fishing Long Island TV show as well as radio fishing reports for WBAB and WCBS. He previously served as outdoor columnist for the NY Daily News, and has been featured in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. He also co-authored several fishing books and is the author of Fishing Long Island Guide Book.
An active member of the Metropolitan Outdoor Press Association and New York State Outdoor Writers Association, and a charter member of the Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network, Fred was honored by the Coastal Conservation Association with its Friend of Fisheries Conservation Award, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Casting For Recovery, was made an honorary member of the Long Island Beach Buggy Association, was inducted into the New York State Outdoorsman Hall of Fame in 2011, and was most recently awarded a 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award by organizers of the Manhattan Cup.
Ironically, Fred Golofaro didn’t really care for awards and accolades; while he felt honored when one of the many writers with whom he worked took home the hardware at a literary competition, he had little interest in participating himself and never submitted any of his own professional work for consideration. Fred didn’t write to build personal monuments; he wrote for us, the readers.
He was as much a teacher as he was he was a writer, and poring over the literally hundreds of thousands of words –quite possibly millions – we as readers learned as much about life and how to live it, as we ever did about fish and how to fish for them. That’s why losing Fred, for so many of us, is like losing a member of the family. For countless fishermen along the Atlantic Coast, he will always be known as Uncle Fred.
It’s often been said, “The Fisherman would never be the same without Fred Golofaro.” That’s true; but what’s also true is that each one of us has gained a piece of this great uncle that he has so willingly passed along over the past 45 years. The teacher, mentor, husband and father brought future success for all, which is a torch we strive to carry forth for another half-century, passing it along again, and again, to new generations.
Often it’s in times of grief when we’re able to let our guards down and share what’s truly in our hearts. Fred’s sudden passing this fall, at the height of his beloved striper run, has provided a perfect example of that. Through the heartfelt words of family and friends via email, letters and social media posts – some of which we have shared here to follow – we celebrate the life of a truly good man, a great person, and a legend in the sportfishing community.
It was a shock to all of us. By the time these words make it to press, Dad would have passed nearly a month ago and it seems like just yesterday he was talking about how many fluke he was catching at a local dock. That was Monday September 13.
Death is a difficult concept for most, it has been for me, and it seems to cut harder when the passing is so sudden. I would like to first thank everyone for the amazing outpouring of support from family, friends, Dad’s coworkers and the entire fishing community. Your support whether via email, text, phone call or a personal visit to the house has helped us a great deal as we mourn. The flowers, meals, baked goods and GoFundMe support for mom have really left us speechless. We are still responding to emails that were sent to FredFishLegacy@gmail.com and can’t thank you all enough for the countless stories being told.
Our loss is great and when I say “our” I mean the loss that we are all feeling. His family, friends, coworkers, the readers who have supported dad throughout the years, those who attended the surf seminars, his charter clients, the kids who made their first fishing trip through the Send-A-Kid Fishing program and those who will never have the chance to meet the amazing person we called Fred. The pain hurts but like I often tell my two young daughters, nothing in life is free, easy or fair; and that’s coming from an optimist. With dad’s passing, we pay the price now as we mourn the loss of a man we should all strive to be more like; the pain is the price we pay for having known such a caring, kind and giving man. Let us remember that his presence was a gift that will never be taken away.
I’ve struggled to find the perfect words to eulogize my lifetime role model. As time goes on, I realize there are no perfect words but that we all must remember Fred as the person we want to remember and Fred meant a lot of different things to many different people. I’ve contemplated the stories to tell, his achievements to list and how he touched the lives of so many. There really is just too much to write, but his legacy does not end here and we will continue to share our love for Dad and the stories as time goes on. What I am realizing is that the greatest gift he ever gave to all of us is his example of how to act as a human.
He was a gentle giant as described by so many before me. As a child and teenager, he didn’t need to raise his voice to make his point clear. I think he spanked me once but it was staged. I’d given mom a run for her money one day and so mom said dad would deal with me when he got home. Was she talking about my dad because that didn’t seem like a threat! I recall he took me into another room away from mom and said, “Okay Paul, you know you did something wrong and I have to do this, so I am going to make a smack noise and you need to make a sound like I spanked you.” We both smiled, he smacked his hands together and I made a grunt noise. Afterwards, Mom smiled; but now I realize that she smiled because she knew he wouldn’t actually spank me. A testament to the incredible parenting by mom and dad.
He had a way with words and despite his low tone and calm demeanor, he was always able to get his point across, whether talking to his kids or a seminar room packed with eager fishermen. Trips to the beach were a favorite activity for our family and we often ventured to Democrat Point. Packing the kids, gear, food and getting there before 7 a.m. was the easy part. Once we stopped to air down, the struggle (for his family) began. “Hey Fred,” “Fred is that you,” “Are you Fred Golofaro.” Yes, that’s all we heard. I mean he was a Long Island fishing celebrity but it took us at least an hour to get from the pull off area to the point.
He spoke to everyone, gave advice to those who wanted it and even gave his rod off the roof to a guy who had broken his along the beach. He loved fishing so much but he loved people more and it was evident up to the last time I fished with him on the beach. “Dad, let’s take my truck so you can relax and I’ll drive.” He replied, “No Paul, we can take my truck, I have all my gear in here and it’s just easier.” I am realizing now that he just wanted to have his truck so people would know he was out there and he could talk with them! His time was precious but he always gave and gave to everyone from the beach to the ball field.
Dad has clearly caught an abundance of fish and during the last 10 years I would say he made a shift to more rewarding fishing outings. Partly a result of the ankle issues he experienced and inability to fish rough surf coupled with the difficulty he experienced taking off his wader boots, he adopted a 6-foot rod as his new weapon of choice. Several years ago during a fall Saturday morning at Smith Point, in the middle of a heavy sand eel run, Dad navigated the beach as hundreds of anglers sped up and down the beach in search of their keep. We stopped and I grabbed my 10-foot rod with Dad gently telling me to wait a few minutes; but I just wanted to catch fish and so I waded out as far as I could, took a “Hail Mary” cast as the north wind carried my green A27 and hoped for the best. Numerous casts later, my line was still not tight and I could hear Dad suggesting I make my way back to the shore. I failed to realize that the man behind me standing on the dry sand with a 6-foot rod and a rubber sand eel had caught a fish on every cast.
So I retrieved a smaller rod from the roof and joined Dad but not for long as he made his way back to the vehicle. Why would he leave the fish? There are three rules in life; never wake a sleeping baby, your wife is always right (debatable) and never leave when you’re catching fish. Dad was not leaving, he was digging through his tackle for rubber sand eels to hand out to the guys next to us who were not catching fish! That was a true lesson in many ways and reflected some of Dad’s greatest qualities. Conviction in what you know will lead to success, don’t follow the crowd and be generous. Lessons dad had and would indirectly teach as time went on.
A true family man, Dad always made time to coach, spectate and attend to the activities of his children. Later in life I found out that he passed over dynamic career opportunities that would have required his presence in a NYC office but he told me he didn’t want to be a weekend dad and would not have been able to be so active in the lives of his children. He had his priorities straight. During the last eight years, he was blessed with what turned out to be his greatest joys, his five grandchildren. He would just to love to see them all, whether holding and rocking them, standing next to them with a fishing rod or watching them play sports from the sidelines. Some of the greatest pain today is knowing that the younger grandkids will never get to know this amazing man and that he won’t watch them grow up. But he is watching and will be there.
And for his grandchildren and for adults too, I think we should remember what Fred taught us and we need to carry that forward. There is a prose named Desiderata that was one of Dad’s favorite things to read and after Dad’s passing it was read at a small family gathering. It almost defines the way Fred lived his life and is a great guide for all of us.
Let us remember the memories, the life lessons, the love he had for his wife and family, friends and fishing community and the great sport of fishing, his love for the resources, his love of sports, ice cream and show tunes, his ability to teach, listen, understand, remain calm and collected and guide so many people through life. Maybe we can all try to “be like Fred.”
To my true role model, hero, father and person like no other, with all of my love, Thank you Dad.
“King” Of The Sportfishing World
Fred Golofaro is a sport fishing icon. There’s nobody in the fishing world that did not know the man. You could not talk about fishing without his name coming up. People were in awe when I said I was his friend and fished with him. Grown men would be giddy when sharing their stories of meeting and fishing with Fred. If there is an adjective to describe a person in a positive way, it applied to Fred.
Kind, generous, loving, gentle, patient, caring, devoted, thoughtful, honest, dedicated, loyal. He was a great husband, a terrific father, and a wonderful friend. The list goes on and never ends. There is not a negative on the list. Nobody had a bad thing to say about Fred. I loved the man and everything he was and stood for.
He was the “king” of the sport fishing world and a true and tireless conservationist, writing, reporting and involved in all efforts to protect our precious fisheries. Fred was a major contributor to The Fisherman Sport Fishing Fund which helped pay for wrecks sunk off Long Island, amongst other conservation efforts. He taught more kids how to fish than anyone I know. He started and ran the Send-A-Kid Fishing Program that was responsible for taking thousands and thousands of underprivileged children fishing. He introduced them to the sport, gave them rods, reels and assorted fishing tackle to keep and enjoy. The smiles on their faces was all the thanks Fred needed.
There was not an event that involved fishing that Fred didn’t support or attend. He ran clinics, shows, tournaments and more through The Fisherman and other venues. He was tireless in his efforts to help, give to others and give back to the sport that he loved.
In one of my earliest memories of Fred, when The Fisherman’s office was located in Sag Harbor, NY. He would fish Montauk at night, then drive back to Sag for work. My “job” was to allow for just enough shut-eye in his vehicle before waking him up to come in and finish the magazine. On good fishing nights that job was close to impossible and usually required him to be re-awakened several times at his desk throughout the day. But that was Fred at his best. Simply put, it was all about the fishing. It’s what made him a great fisherman, writer, teacher, video personality and a superb editor. Fishing was in his blood and there was no stopping him in his pursuit of that elusive 50-pound striper.
At The Fisherman, we continued our friendship and worked together for close to 40 years. Fred Golofaro was The Long Island Fisherman. I will forever cherish my time with this wonderful man, friend and brother. God bless him.
My heart is broken. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Donna, their sons and their extended families. My condolences to all on this sudden, tragic, and far-too-early loss.
Richard S. Reina
Founder of The Fisherman Magazine
My Mentor, My Friend
I knew Fred Golofaro for over 40 years. Over that time, we had laughs and tears, with mostly laughs. I met Fred in the late 70’s when he moved next door to my sister. He raised his kids, as my sister raised my nieces and nephews, and they all played with my oldest daughter, Lauren. I can remember going to Great South Bay Angler meetings, with Lauren in tow, while Fred had his boys with him. Fun times.
From the day I met Fred he was enthusiastic about getting me into surf fishing even more than I had been. He set me up with a surf bag and some plugs, then told me where to go, when to go and what to look for. He helped me get my first custom built surf rod – something every “sharpie” needed. Then he added to that set-up by giving me a Crack 300 reel.
I can remember being on the beach with him the year that graphite rods came out. The problem was they were so light, it actually hurt Fred’s elbow – kind of like a tennis elbow issue. I was standing to his right, about 10 feet away, on False Bar in Montauk, during blitz like conditions. On one cast his plug, a Gibbs 3-ounce Bottle, swung to the right and landed square in the back of my head, tearing through my Helly Hansen top and carving a crease in my scalp. He came running over apologizing and saying how his elbow hurt and he was dropping down almost sidearm to cast. No big deal; I was not hurt and we kept fishing.
Several years later in the Tale End column, Fred recounted the event with some subtle changes. You see, in the article, I was told vehemently that if I did not give him more room, he would plant a plug in my head. Fred’s humorous side came out quite frequently during fishing outings.
One afternoon at his house, while we were getting ready for a Montauk trip, he said, “How would you like to be the next editor of the magazine?” I laughed and said don’t tease me like that, but he was serious.
I was offered the job by Rich Reina, Sr. because Fred went to him and his son, Rich Jr. and said, “There is no one in my mind better to take over for me (Fred was moving up to publisher) than Tom Melton.” They hired me on Fred’s say-so.
Fred took me under his wing and taught me every aspect of the magazine. He schooled me on editorial content and layout. He taught me how to write efficiently, and to the point, rather than wordy. He made me into the writer and editor I turned out to be. My success as a writer would never have been possible without his guidance, understanding and patience.
With Fred at my side, hitting the beach became an obsession. He would call me at all hours if fish were blitzing because his network was far greater than anyone’s. He would call, then I would call Charlie Murray – sometimes at 11 at night. “Charlie, I just got the call from Fred.” “Fish are blitzing at False Bar, been going on for hours.” If we leave now, we will have three solid hours of a perfect tide.” “Meet me at my house.”
Nothing tops the Gurney’s wedding blitz, though. During the cocktail hour for the wedding of Christina Reina, we were on the balcony and down the beach we could see a huge squall of birds diving and fish busting. Fred had rods with him, not to anyone’s surprise. We wanted to walk down, but geez, we were at the boss’s daughter’s wedding! Did we really want to lose our jobs over a few fish? As we were watching, Rich Sr. came over and said, “You guys work for a fishing magazine, and if your butts aren’t on that beach in 5 minutes, you’re fired.” We hit the beach and fished for stripers in our suits – no waders, no tops, just dress suits!
Fred was an amazing man and an even more amazing father. In spite of his heavy work schedule at the magazine, and with shows, seminars and deadlines, he always found the time to be at his kids’ ball games, school activities and of course take them fishing. For his efforts, the boys, Paul, Kit, Michael and Josh, and the girls, Ashley and Taylor have grown into amazing adults. He was married to his loving wife Donna for 45 years, and she was always there at his side.
Fred was also a huge influence on fisheries management and beach access issues state and countywide in New York. He was always willing to listen to all sides, and always had a reasonable answer to any dilemma. Whether it was access, regulations or commercial/recreational issues, Fred could calm the masses and make sense of it all. In my opinion, his finest moment was when he started the Send-A-Kid Fishing Program 28 years ago. This was to make sure more kids had the ability to fish, no matter what the circumstance.
While Fred may have been seen as a titan to the fishing community, he was so much more than “just” that. He was an engaged dad, a devoted husband and a dedicated sportsmen. There was never any bravado or chest pounding for his accomplishments, because in his eyes, everyone else’s feats were far more important.
Fred will always have a place in my heart and in my memories. I will never forget the time we spent on the beach or on the baseball field with him pitching and me as his catcher. There will never be, in my opinion, another Fred Golofaro in this world. He was as kind of a man as you will ever find. I love you Fred and I will miss you forever. May you rest in peace and have screaming drags and tight lines for all eternity.
Former managing editor, The Long Island Fisherman
An Inspiration & A Brother
The one outstanding attribute that I noticed about Fred Golofaro from day #1 was that he spoke, taught and lived the truth. He did this like few others that I have ever met in my tumultuous life of growing up and escaping from the inner city. This was a man of his word; a man of impeccable integrity and with few vices; and a man who was passionate about the two primary things in his life, his family and fishing. Fred and his lovely wife Donna invested copious amounts of time and resources to support, raise and love six children, launching them all into successful careers. Despite this daunting task, Fred was a “fishing fool” that lived in a 24/7 world of tides, currents and geography. He was always in the right spot, at the right time, in the right place, to catch the right fish and spent a lifetime as a writer, guide and mentor to many, teaching them all about his love for the surf and his deep respect for the environment and our precious coastal resources.
Fred was also an exceptional writer, author, guide, instructor and entertainer who will continue to live on and teach others about his passion via his impressive body of creative work, which includes myriad books, articles and videos. He was the founding force behind The Fisherman’s “Take a Kid Fishing” program, which for three decades helped many thousands of underprivileged children enjoy the temporary peace and tranquility of being out in the fresh salty air, bending a rod with the hope and wonderment of what might be pulling back on the other end. Fred was also a guiding voice in local political and government circles to develop beach access, reef programs and conservation efforts to insure that the saltwater resources that we’ve all enjoyed, that have shaped our lives in so many ways, would be available for future generations. There are numerous professional fishermen who have made an excellent living selling books, running charters, promoting merchandise on the internet and being sponsored by one rod/reel/lure company or another, and many can thank Fred Golofaro for teaching them and giving them traction they needed when first starting out and learning “the game”.
I can honestly say that if it weren’t for Fred Golofaro giving me a chance to write an article for the Long Island Fisherman Magazine back in 1982, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have had the good fortune to author over 3,500 articles about fishing, boating, marine electronics and the shooting sports since then, delivered scores of seminars, met many hundreds, if not thousands of leaders in the tackle and marine industries, and have traveled in circles and orbits that I would never have had the opportunity to enter, if it were not for Fred helping me open those doors via my writing for The Fisherman. Fred encouraged me back in the late 1980s to get my captain’s license and to do coastal sport fishing charters. Unknown to many readers who consider him to be the voice of surf anglers everywhere, Capt. Fred was a charter boat operator in his early 20’s (circa 1972), plying the expanses of the Great South Bay and Fire Island Inlet back in the infancy of recreational boat access to some very special spots, putting many of his clients onto the fish of their lifetimes. I always kidded him about going over to the “dark side of the force” and becoming a surf rat, while I plied the deep for my favorite pelagics and secret offshore wrecks. Fred was also a major influence in helping me develop the Atlantic Wreck series that ran in The Fisherman, which included many dozens of articles and a book.
From the editor/writer aspect of our relationship, Fred and I gradually became friends and brothers over the years. Fred was easy to like and respect. He was soft spoken – as I learned at his October 2 memorial service, I wasn’t the only one who had trouble hearing and understanding him on a phone call – and a source of infinite angling knowledge. We spent many hours discussing the nuances of lure colors, knots, rods, line, leaders, water temps, moon phases, tides and currents, fishing migrations, etc. He was always generous sharing his insights, not just with me, but with many people that he met. I’ve never heard anyone speak a bad or negative word about this man, ever! He had the patience of a saint and was an excellent teacher with his calm, soft-spoken demeanor.
Fred was there for me during numerous personal family tragedies. I’ll never forget him being wheeled into my son FDNY Lt Chris’ wake at the Commack Fire Dept. HQ. Fred had just had his third major surgery on a balky ankle and was sporting a half leg cast. I’ll always remember that look in his eye and him saying, “John, I wouldn’t miss this for anything and I just had to be here for you.” That was Fred Golofaro in a nutshell.
Why would the good Lord take this man from us? He was just starting to wind things down a bit and was spending time doing the things that he loved, with a lot less pressure to constantly be on that never-ending treadmill, working for everyone else. With all of the sacrifices and love that he shared with family, friends and the fishing community, didn’t he deserve more time for himself? He certainly earned it.
But life on this earth doesn’t work that way. His passing at the peak of his career sends a sobering message to us all. Life is a precious resource and you don’t get a second chance. Make the most of it while you can. Don’t hope to do something 20 years from now…do it today! Love your family and make the world a better place. It was an honor to have known Fred, work with him and watch our families grow up together. I miss him already…one more trip, one more drift, one more cast, one more fish.
Capt. John N. Raguso
Boating/Electronics Editor,The Fisherman
Remembering Fred Golofaro
Fred was a good fisherman with a unique understanding of what makes fish tick, why they strike a plug or bait, and he caught plenty of them. He loved striped bass fishing in his home waters of Long Island, but was equally thrilled to catch a fluke or bluefish, or a freshwater bass in upstate New York, and dreamed of spending more time in the Florida Keys.
Fred’s fishing skills were well known and he was respected by his peers, especially in the surf fishing community, but what I recall most was his good humor, gentleness, dedication to family and friends, and his unique ability to shepherd The Fisherman Magazine crew through the creation of every issue.
A fishing magazine requires a publisher, editors, writers and reporters, ad salesmen and a production department; and what appears on the printed or digital page is therefore the result of a team effort. Fred wore many editorial and publishing titles in his career, but I will always look up to him as the team leader, the face of the magazine, the guy who stitched the team together, who inspired us with thoughtful critiques, creative and interesting ideas and a commitment to excellence.
I was privileged to be on Fred’s team for over 40 years, and enjoyed working with him, especially the times when we shared our fishing experiences and news of our families as they grew up. I learned a lot from him about fishing, of course, but most important I’ll always recall how he got people to pull together as a team.
Former associate publisher, The Fisherman
Fred Golofaro was someone whom I looked up to for a long time not only as a friend, but also professionally. He helped me along as a blossoming writer and editor, encouraged me when I needed it and put me in my place when my ego needed checking. Fred was a huge supporter of all my efforts to better myself as a person, writer and angler, and for that and more I am forever grateful.
I still vividly remember meeting Fred in person for the first time at the Shirley office of The Fisherman. When I called my wife on the ride home from Long Island – before mentioning a single word about how the interview had gone – the first thing out of my mouth was that I finally got to meet Fred and that above all else, I was in such awe of how nice a guy he was. For all that Fred accomplished throughout his life, and for how well known of an individual he was in the fishing industry, he always remained humble, generous, and more than willing to help anyone that was in need. He had a story for every subject but never made you feel like he was boasting when he spoke; you really wanted to hear what he had to say. And for those who took the time to listen, Fred had much wisdom to pass along.
Fred was the kind of man that upon meeting him, your respect and admiration only grew, and that is a very rare trait for one to possess in today’s day and age. I consider myself a better man for having known you, Fred; rest in peace, you will be forever missed.
– Toby Lapinski
The world is a darker place today because one of the shining lights was put out when Fred Golofaro passed away. He was my friend and coworker for many years at The Fisherman Magazine, but much more than that, he was an exceptional human being. He and his loving wife Donna not only raised their boys, but when family members could not take care of their children they stepped up and raised another boy and two girls. Anyone who knows me knows a love a good argument. I never argued with Fred.
The times we spent together in The Fisherman office that was below sea-level in Sag Harbor while I waited for the press to be fixed are now cherished memories. Fishing together on Long Island, New Jersey and in the Florida Keys are the same.
Today, there is a large hole in my heart that will never close.
– Eric Burnley
I knew Fred for over 40 years as part of The Fisherman family and as one of the warmest and most willing to share knowledge individuals involved in sport fishing. He was always glad to help anglers improve in technique, tackle, locations (no spot burning!) and the approach needed for each species of fish we pursue. Whether at a big consumer show, a club meeting or just bumping into him on the beach, Fred was always willing to make the experience of fishing better. He really enjoyed getting children more involved in fishing. From “Here, try this” while passing out rigs or lures, to impromptu knot tying instruction both kids and adults got the best advice Fred could give.
Yes, there were times when I would hear, “Don’t mention this to anyone…” advice. But, that was usually just to keep the information close until it appeared in print in one of the upcoming issues of The Fisherman. He was never on the fence about what was happening in politics, management or society that would have a negative impact on access, fisheries or recreational harvest of the species we all chase. He was willing to speak up for us and for the fish, too. Whether in Washington, DC, or his local towns, Fred cared about what mattered to anglers and willingly spoke up for us all.
Many of us will miss Fred for a lot of reasons but not seeing his smile and hearing his almost whisper voice talking fishing is a loss for all of us.
– Jerry Gomber
Our sadness at Fred’s loss is deeper than any ocean he ever fished. My wife Louise and I met him and Donna in the early 70’s double dating for dinners and movies, taking walks in the park, and planning our futures together. Fred and Donna beat us to the alter and to the start of their family. Back then in the hippy-dippy days of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, Fred already had his eyes on the important things, a marriage, a family, a home, and a profession.
If he were here now he would be embarrassed by my telling you this but his nickname back then was, “Father Fred,” not because he advocated or overtly practiced any religion but because of the things that are inherent in all faith-based beliefs, his love, loyalty, honesty, and compassion. In an era when most young people had psychedelic posters on the walls Fred’s bedroom had a framed copy of Desiderata.
At the risk of diverting even slightly from his renown as a fisherman and writer I want to say mostly, he was so much more. I don’t think I went fishing with Fred more than a few times but I spent many hours of friendship with him covering the widest range of subjects, making the rounds driving to Long Island bait stores and tackle shops, walking on the beach, watching ball games, sitting at his kitchen table, playing baseball with his kids in the street, and staying up in late living room nights with him and Donna and Louise.
Believe me when I tell you this, if there were magazines like The Fisherman devoted to being a great husband, father, friend and neighbor, Fred would have been the senior editor of those too. He surely loved to fish but when it came to people Fred did not require lures or bait, his character was the only attraction needed. His memory will be as treasured as he was by us all.
– Jeff Mansfield
I recall the first time I met Fred Golofaro was many, many striped bass moons ago when I was fishing a small jetty at the Great South Bay on Long Island. It was during the early fall run after the moratorium. While I was releasing a decent bass, Fred quietly showed up and with his soft spoken way offered to hold my rod so I could have a clean release. Unbeknownst to him, I was in awe and star struck, since I had read every article (word for word) he had written for The Fishermen Magazine and he was my idol and a legend.
My second encounter was followed a few days after under the infamous Montauk Lighthouse during the beginning of a hard northeast blow. It was an epic night! From that point on, we kept in touch, shared a lot of fishy stories and laughs, and through the years he mentored me, and I am forever thankful for his guidance and friendship. He even convinced me to write a few articles on trophy hunting so I could share my passion.
One of my most memorable highlights was when he asked me to do a dual surf fishing seminar at The Fisherman’s infamous Hilton surf show and to kick off the September 2009 striped bass fall run. It was a great seminar and I told him I had the best seat in the house. As years have gone by, Fred and I always kept in touch even when I moved to Florida.
Ironically enough, our “30 minute” conversations would always take three hours or so; but that was Fred, a man who always gave his time to share thoughts, guide and share his sage advice.
I miss you dearly my friend! You are unquestionably the “BEST” (and I don’t use that word often) and the Greatest of All Time! I am sure you are in heaven feeling no more health pains, and crossing the eyes of every heavenly fish.
– Alberto Knie
This morning my good friend Alberto Knie called to give me some heartbreaking news. A man, a friend, someone who I worked with at The Fisherman back in its infancy, had died suddenly. Fred Golofaro, a gentleman and a truly gentle man, was a special influence on the lives of so many in our sport and I was lucky enough to have known him since 1976.
His passing was so sudden and without warning. Just this past June I was honored to honor him with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 20th Manhattan Cup, and after a few surely inadequate words I invited him to the stage to receive much deserved accolades. As always, he was the gracious and humble Fred we all knew and loved. The award brought him to tears along and the outpouring of emotion that was shared by many of his fellow fishermen in the room that evening.
His passing is an unbearable loss to his family, to whom I send my deepest sympathy, but it was also a great loss to the family that has made up The Fisherman over the years and the larger community of anglers far and wide who grew up reading his educational stories and personal musings on the sport for which we care so deeply. Like Alberto, I don’t have words that can accurately express how I feel. I will accept his passing only with the knowledge that if there is a place called heaven, Fred has surely made the cut and he will be fishing perfect tides throughout eternity. God bless you my friend.
– Gary Caputi
What can anyone say about Fred Golofaro? He was approachable, gentle, soft spoken and always had time to talk to anyone. Simply stated he was selfless. Fred was a friend to me first and foremost as well as a mentor. I first met Fred about 30 years ago at a seminar he was giving, and I was star struck. He was larger than life, a local legend in our fishing community, an icon to say the least. I grew up reading his surf reports and articles in what was then the Long Island Fisherman when I was a teen just getting into surf fishing. What I didn’t know at that time was what a great person he really was.
We were both members of the Great South Bay Anglers fishing club where we really got to know each other. Over the years we began to speak more often, and we developed a great friendship. We would talk at least once or twice a week. I always tried to steer the conversation away from “Where are the Fish? Where should I go?” I never wanted our friendship to be just about fishing. We did fish together over the years, but those outings were always about the camaraderie and laughs. We did manage to catch a few fish along the way but that was always secondary. Fred was always willing to give guidance on personal issues. I had some decisions to make on personal issues over the years and always went to Fred to bounce ideas off him because I knew he’d give me honest feedback, which he did. What folks who didn’t know Fred personally don’t know about Fred was he had a wicked sense of humor. He was a practical joker, and I was always waiting for that sense of humor to get turned on me. And he did target me more than once. All I could do was laugh because I knew he wasn’t being mean spirited about it he was just doing it for the laugh and laugh we did along with whoever happened to be close to the scene.
The stories he would tell would have me laughing and waiting for more. The best yarns he told were the funny things he did like cutting the line off his friend Rich’s reel and spooled it back on 30 feet at a clip so when he made a cast his lure would only travel 30 feet and stop, or when the “vampire” watched over him fishing under the Light at Montauk on a dark, foggy fall night. I will miss him more than I think even I can realize and more than I could put into words. I will miss you. Until we meet again my friend. I love you Uncle Freddie!
– Bob Danielson
I first met Fred Golofaro in the mid-80s. We soon became friends, and right away, it was apparent that he was an extraordinary man. He was the most unselfish human I’ve ever known. Not catching? Fred would give you his last “secret” lure, even if he didn’t know you.
Almost everybody thinks Fred’s passion was fishing – it wasn’t. Family and friends were his passion. He consistently chose family over fishing. A man who had only four days off a month would spend one of them visiting his sister upstate. I remember calling and telling him to come out with me, that weakfish in the high teens were hitting good; he said he couldn’t because he wanted to visit his sister. At a time in his life when he was toying with the idea of getting a place in the Keys; three young children that needed a safe place to live were taken in by Freddy. He never did get that place in the Keys. What he got was the satisfaction of raising those three kids – in addition to his own three – to be awesome adults.
He was always eager to help anyone but seldom asked for help with anything. He was very diplomatic and had a knack for tackling things that upset him or made him mad with dignity, grace, and peace. Freddy also helped me be a better person. I have since learned the pleasure and extreme satisfaction of teaching others new techniques that help them in what they love to do. The response and feedback are incredibly gratifying. Fred has also introduced me to many incredible people in the fishing community and The Fisherman family that I otherwise wouldn’t have met.
There is no doubt in my mind that if every person was like Fred, there would be world peace. He was someone I could count on to give it to me straight. He would advise if asked, but he was most effective in leading by example. I will miss him tremendously and will always try to live my life like Fred.
– John Paduano
My conversations with Fred were not always about fishing but mainly about fisheries, politics, and promoting sportfishing. He always supported a just cause. He was known for his soft-spoken style and his passion. Fred commanded attention and respect from all that knew him. Fred was a legend in the recreational fishing community. Not only an avid fisherman, Fred’s community involvement originated over 35 years ago. Fred passionately addressed issues relevant to the marine community, advocating for increase access to beaches, reef enhancement projects, increasing the availability of launch ramps around Long Island, resolving fisheries management issues while combining “the needs of commerce and deep concerns for conservation.”
Fred also understood the need to find political solutions to resolve more difficult conflicts. Fred sat on numerous councils and commissions: Including the NYS fishing advisory board and the Suffolk County Sportsmen Council. Fred also received numerous distinctions, including lifetime achievement awards from many organizations. He founded the Send-A-Kid fishing program, was a co-founder of the New York Fishing Tackle Trade Association, a member of the New York Metropolitan Outdoor Writers Association, an advocate for Casting For Recovery Long Island and an honorary member of the Long Island Beach Buggy Association. This list can go on and on.
Fred’s faith in a person’s leadership abilities combined with a particular “trust factor” was quite unique. About three years ago, I asked Fred to give a young man an opportunity, to write an article or do a presentation at The Fisherman’s Surf Fishing Seminar. Fred agreed and thus began the relationship started between Matt Broderick and “Fred from The Fisherman.” Then in August 2020, Fred stole Matt from me, but that’s a story for another day (Fred would have laughed at this comment).
Fred was a unique individual whose passion and concern for the future of this sport and its viability and progression forward will be next to impossible to replace. However, Fred would have said that wasn’t true, as a little time and dedication from a few people could accomplish so much. Maybe that will be his legacy going forward—a renewed passion for the future of fishing.
– John Mantione
He missed the first ferry, so he had a legitimate excuse not to make the evening trip from Long Island to Connecticut. However, Fred never used excuses to avoid doing the right thing. After a long day at the office, a trip home to change and pick up his wife, it was nearing the end of a long day. Before the age of the cell phone he called Tim Coleman from a pay phone and said he would be a little late and to start without him. No one ever gave a second thought to starting his friend and co-worker, Gloria Najim’s retirement party without Fred and Donna. I spent the delay time talking to Tim and our sales manager, Mary Motherway about what a stand-up guy Fred has always been. Fred was my go to guy for information on anything fishing related from Long Island Sound to the Jersey Shore and Delaware Bay. In our conversations we often spoke of my connection to the island of Cuttyhunk, a place he wanted to fish, so I promised to take him anytime he was able to get away. Even though we understood we might never make that trip, I reminded him of one of my father’s favorite quotes, “If you don’t have dreams, you’ll never have the opportunity to make one come true.”
Fred did much more than love children, he was an advocate and promoter for making the lives of underprivileged children much better. He was the creator and driving force behind The Fisherman Magazine’s, Send-A-Kid Fishing Program. He encouraged us to raise money for this worthy endeavor and after taking 40 disadvantaged children from a group home on their first-ever fishing trip we ran a cover story in our New England edition. Fred called with a sincere ‘thank you’ for the donations of money, food and tackle and it was obvious that mission was near and dear to his heart.
Over the past several years The Fisherman has lost two of the most exceptional advocates for the recreational fishing community. Fred follows his friend, colleague and former New England Fisherman editor, Tim Coleman to that place where the tide is always pulling, and the fish are always biting. I can picture these two iconic, yet humble men standing in the surf, catching fish and swapping tips and tales.
Fred Golofaro left an indelible mark on everyone who had the privilege of knowing, fishing, or working with him or following him in this magazine. I was privileged to have known him for over 40 years.
– Charley Soares
I knew Fred for the better part of 50 years—we worked on advisory panels, attended public hearings, worked on fishing articles, and fished together: although not as often as we would have liked, especially since COVID-19 struck. I admired Fred for many reasons, including his kindness to and respect for others: both friend and foe, his patience when attempting to move the government toward conservation, and his willingness to balance his ideals with realities in the real world.
He was also an innovator: the Send-A-Kid Fishing initiative comes to mind. Perhaps everyone knows the soft-spoken, easy-going side of Fred. Still, some may not know that there was a fire in him, not only for fishing but also for doing the right thing when it came to access, fishing rights, needed legislation, and a zeal to short-circuit abundant bureaucratic red tape to achieve desired results. It was this fire that I enjoyed, respected, and could relate to. Fred had a generous side. If a friend or relative needed help, I never knew him to say no, and that includes this writer. He was also generous with fishing information, not just because he was on the masthead at The Fisherman but also because he had a profound belief that anglers had the right to enjoy the sport and its fish resources. In that sense, he was a dedicated educator, not only in his how-to articles but also in many editorials on various fisheries matters that both informed and enlightened.
His editorials never spun information to promote an ideology; instead, they provided objective information so that anglers could make up their own minds. I always found this kind of direct honesty to be at the core of the man. I’ve run out of space, but not words. I will miss our frequent chats on the phone, our occasional fishing trips, and his influential work on the various community service efforts that we shared.
– William “Doc” Muller
I knew and worked with Fred for many years, beginning back in the 1980’s, when I left my flying job with Eastern Airlines and began flying for another large carrier. Leaving Eastern after so many years equated to a sizeable pay cut, so I figured, “Maybe I can make up for some of that by writing; specifically writing fishing stories?”
So I called Fred and asked about doing that. I had previously written a couple of stories for Sport Fishing and Salt Water Sportsman, so without hesitation Fred said, “sure George, just send them over to me and I’ll find room for them.”
That began my writing for The Fisherman, something that continues to this day. As a result, I came to know Fred well and to say that he was always a soft-spoken, understanding person wouldn’t do him justice because he was way more than that. He was special in so many ways, but the one thing that impressed me the most was that his demeanor never changed one bit. After I retired from aviation and there was an opening, he called and asked if I was interested in writing the East End/Montauk weekly column, something I did for almost five years. Each time we would meet at one of the fishing shows or outdoor exhibitions or spoke on the phone, he was always the same great guy—that was a given.
Knowing that he is in a better place now, a spot where sun is shining and the stripers are biting every day is my only solace. As I’m writing this, all I can add in my grief and sorrow, is that you will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, my good friend.
– George Jehn
I had the pleasure of meeting Fred in the early days of forming the RFA 26 years ago. In meetings too numerous to count, Fred always provided input that was thoughtful, fair and based on the best interest of the fishing community. Most importantly, Fred was an absolute gentleman who earned and deserved the greatest respect from our industry. Our hearts go out to the Golofaro family, his larger family at The Fisherman Magazine, and to everyone lucky enough to have known him.
– Jim Donofrio
Those of you who did not know Fred personally stand convinced that all that has been said and written by those who knew him speaks from their hearts. If you define the synonyms for kindness, and you have Fred. Many of his qualities made him distinctive from anyone I have ever known. Although I met Fred in 1980, it wasn’t until 1986 that I wrote my first article for The Fisherman about spring flounder in the Shinnecock Canal. After some significant editing by Fred, the feature was published in the March issue in 1986.
Fred would go on to edit and publish many other features, which due to his appropriate wording, made me shine much more than I deserved to. Yet the man never said a word to me. I kept writing, and he kept the features looking professional until I finally caught on and stopped the growth of gray hairs on his head. I never got the chance to say thank you Fred but thank you for believing in me and being my friend. I will miss you terribly.
– Tony Salerno
Quite a sad day in the fishing industry as Fred Golofaro of The Fisherman Magazine passed away. I will always consider Fred not only one of my closest friends, but a true mentor that helped me on my way in this industry. As a wide-eyed 23-year old running magazines on the circulation route, I would always stop by Fred’s office and shoot the breeze about baseball and fishing for an hour or two before he would kick me out and continue his duties as publisher of The Fisherman. He was a true gentle giant of a man, capable of using his disarming calmness and irrevocable friendly soul to get things done.
I, along with many others will miss you my friend. Godspeed Fred.
– Nick Honachefsky
We send our deepest sympathies regarding the passing of Fred. He was always a pleasure to speak to at fishing events, public meetings, or even just on the phone. Always a huge supporter and friend to the I Fish NY Program we will never forget all the help that he has given us throughout the years.
The fishing community on Long island and abroad has lost an advocate, friend, and fantastic fisherman. The impact he’s had on the sport of fishing will last for years to come.
Our condolences go out to Fred’s family, friends, and all the staff at The Fishermen Magazine.
– NYDEC Region 1 Freshwater Fisheries
This really hits me hard. I had so much respect for [Fred]. What always amazed me about him was that he wrote for The Fisherman for so long, but his writing never got stale or repetitive. His pieces were always interesting enough to read all the way through and always relevant. My sincere condolences to the many lives he touched.
– John Skinner
Over 25 years ago, Fred hired me as a Field Editor upon the recommendation of past Managing Editor Tom Melton. When I first met Fred, he actually seemed somewhat unfriendly, but I soon realized that he was just a quiet man of few words, except when we started talking about fishing and the magazine. He was not only passionate about the sport but the magazine as well. Fred wanted us to produce a quality product that told anglers how and where to find fish, catch fish, and the importance of conservation. If a problem arose, Fred always handled it in a calm, respectful manner. He would listen intently and then respond, and he never lost his temper. I was never afraid to approach him about any matter. He was a unique person, and he added a special “flavor” to the magazine. Fred never hesitated to share his knowledge and expertise with the angling public. Fred was genuinely respected and admired by The Fisherman staff, its advertisers, and professionals in the fishing industry, and he got that respect and admiration the old-fashioned way; he earned it!
– Geoffrey Lawrence