MONTAUK LEGEND JACK YEE 1937 - 2015 - The Fisherman


Jack Yee – a legend in the Montauk surf community and the mayor of Montauk if ever there was one. No one knows how many surfcasters – men, women and kids – he tutored in the game of surf fishing, how many casters he removed hooks from or took photos of. You knew when you went to Montauk, you would run into Jack Yee. He might be holding court out in front of Paulie’s, or just cruising the beaches.

In recent years he was rarely fishing. After chatting for awhile, he would tell me he was off to a special spot to make some casts, even though there was no rod in his truck, but I understood. Physically he was a shell of the man who helped pioneer wetsuiting in Montauk, and the Striper Coast for that matter, since Montauk is where it all started. It must have been hard for him to come to grips with his failing health and the inability to do what he had loved doing for so many years.

He was at one time a very good surf fisherman, who like many others had their years in the sun. And like many of those before him, time has a way of catching up. I could only shake my head overhearing a young gun wondering what all the fuss was about and commenting “how could he be a good fisherman, he’s never fishing?” How could anyone be so naive?

None of us are perfect and he was no exception. I used to get the calls from Atlantic City and those who knew him well, know what I’m referring to. He did some crazy things during his lengthy tenure at Montauk – let’s just say you wouldn’t be happy if your kids did the same. It was soon after one of these “incidents” that I walked into my brother’s wedding reception and there sat Jack. “Hello brother” were his first words. How surprised was I to discover we were now “family.” It turned out that my brother’s new wife was Jack’s niece.

But Jack had a big heart when it came to helping people and sharing his knowledge, unlike some stone-faced Montauk regulars who would not give a novice the time of day. And he, more than anyone I know, was a living testament of the Montauk surf culture. He will remain a fixture in Montauk surf lore long after he is gone, but those who continue to trek to “The End” will no doubt sense that something is missing.