In Memoriam: Rich Reina Sr. Founder Of The Fisherman - The Fisherman

In Memoriam: Rich Reina Sr. Founder Of The Fisherman

I began working at The Fisherman in 1992. Culturally, it was in stark contrast to the corporate environment I’d grown accustom to and the positive career change I was hoping for. Aside from the thrill of working for the magazine I’d been reading since I was 12 years old, it was immediately evident that I didn’t just land a new job. I became part of a very special and unique family team, in which the founder of The Fisherman, Rich Reina Sr. was the patriarch. I loved being a part of the Reina team because of the code of values they held and lead by. Integrity, loyalty, fisheries stewardship, generosity and creativity defined those core values and ultimately is what lead to the amazing popularity of the magazine. More importantly it led to the recognition of The Fisherman as the ultimate fishing authority in the Northeast. It is a legacy I’m dedicated to carrying on.

Sadly on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, the founder of The Fisherman, Rich Reina Sr., passed away under hospice care in his home in East Hampton, NY. He was 83 years old. What an incredible life he led. It was a true honor to know and work with Rich Sr. and his son Richard S. Reina, as well as knowing many members of the Reina family. I’ve learned much and as the current owner I understand even more the pride he must have had by bringing joy to the lives of so many Fisherman readers through the incredible recreation of fishing.

Michael Caruso, Publisher, Owner

 

 “The fish come first.” That will always be Rich Reina’s legacy in my mind. Whenever we were faced with a fisheries management issue, those words were his mantra. Those simple words made as much sense during the 1970s when I served as Associate Editor of The Fisherman as they do today. Doing what is best for the fish will also be best for all involved in the long run – the fish, tackle shops, charter boats, party boats, tackle manufacturers and yes, even magazines and their readers.

Rich saw the potential of a local, weekly fishing publication at a time when the fishing world knew only monthlies. The big three (Outdoor Life, Field & Stream and Sports Afield) were thriving then, as was Saltwater Sportsman. He hit a home run in 1966 with the birth of the Long Island edition before launching New England and New Jersey editions, and the rest is history. His strong leadership qualities, acute business sense and love of fishing were at the forefront of The Fisherman’s success. He was a firm, but fair boss to those who worked under him, including his son, Rich Jr., who would go on to lead the magazine through the better part of two decades. He also had a big heart. When my wife and I, and our three sons welcomed our two nieces and nephew into our home, Rich and his wife Mary wrote a very generous check to make sure all of the kids had a good Christmas. I never forgot that gesture of kindness.

Under Rich Sr.’s direction, issues like bluefish management, the 200-mile limit, fish traps and gill nets, fishing access and representation for recreational anglers at the state and federal levels were brought to the forefront so that readers were informed and able to voice their concerns to decision makers in Albany, Washington and at the local level. Now under the leadership of publisher Mike Caruso, the legacy rolls on as The Fisherman remains in the forefront of all issues affecting recreational fishing, and continues to educate anglers on all aspects of the fishing game.

Fred Golofaro, Senior Editor

 

Rich was a pioneer and left a great legacy of leadership in the world of fishing. In 1966 with friend Mickey Chiarenza, they formed The Long Island, The Fisherman Magazine. Mickey, whose true love was lure design and manufacturing, left The Fisherman and created the Tri-Fin Lure Company. Rich, on the other hand, was determined to bring his dream of publishing an important weekly fishing magazine to life. He succeeded magnificently, and expanded the brand with the New Jersey, Delaware Bay, New England Editions and later the Mid Atlantic and even Florida editions.

Until 1966, regional and national fishing magazines were the norm, but weekly magazines in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region did not exist. However, Rich believed that a formula including good editorial content, accurate and timely fishing reports, and strong local leadership would be successful, while providing local fishermen with a platform to secure better access and fisheries management, as well as gain a voice in the New York State Legislature.

The list of his leadership initiatives is impressive. In 1974 he led an editorial campaign that helped changed DEC policies. The series of editorials resulted in several DEC policy changes, grabbed the attention of Newsday, and gained political influence in Albany.

Rich also insisted the magazine be front and center to secure a 200-mile limit law (Magnuson Act), as well as lobbying for the nomination of representatives to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Fisheries Management Council created by the law.

In 1978 Rich put the political influence of The Fisherman to work to establish a Fishing Advisory Board with State Parks that continues its work. One of the goals was more access including a successful project to establish more boat launch ramps on Long Island.

In 1980 members of local surf fishing clubs met and created The New York Surf Fishing Contest to replace the defunct Schaefer Beer coast-wide contest. Rich supported the contest financially as well as publishing monthly contest results. The contest is highly regarded by L.I. anglers and continues today.

Clearly Rich was a pioneer. In addition to the above accomplishments, he originated detailed, multi-location fishing reports as well as mining some of the most celebrated outdoor writers of our time. He encouraged that all of the magazine’s editorial and ad staff fish regularly, including himself. For example, in the 1970s, Rich and I frequently puddled around Great South Bay and Peconic Bay during the phenomenal weakfish run of those years. This provided timely and accurate information for the reports, and allowed us to help educate anglers who were unfamiliar with catching the returning weakfish.

There were other initiatives such as providing free seminars to L.I. fishing clubs, and of course strong editorial leadership on all issues. I wrote many of the editorials back in the day and he instructed me that The Fisherman would remain a powerful eco-political force in the region. Many anglers told me they read the editorials religiously to remain current.

Rich has been my friend since 1974, my boss on and off through the decades, but a good deal of the time he was more like a brother to me. His strong leadership, steadfast support, and friendship will never be forgotten.

Bill “Doc” Muller – one of Rich’s close friends and original fishing buddies

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