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"A Salute to Ken Kassan" Print E-mail
May 19, 2009 at 08:16 AM

by Dream Remington


It was on a dark night at Turtle Cove, I had just traveled around the world from my home in Istanbul Turkey to fish the legendary Montauk. I was so excited to get there as soon as possible that I took a cab from the airport directly to the light house.

I was tired and exhausted but I was a driven man, and I would land that cow I was dreaming about for years. I had some surf fishing skills, but I faced all the perils which all good surf fisherman face when they first fish Montauk, they realize that they are helpless against the point's obstacle course of impossibilities.

After crossing over the rocks under the light (of course with no corkers) and taking 3 major falls (good hits that would have broken normal men) I finally made it to Turtle Cove (at the time, I did not know about the back entrance through the parking lot).I arrived hyperventilating and ready to drop.I cast everything I had into Turtle Cove for hours (I tossed out everything but the kitchen sink) with no avail, only to be finally swept into the surf by a rough wave that scrapped me on the rocks like a potato on a grader, and almost took me for keeps.

I took off my wet clothes and dropped on the sand, trembling, defeated by my own ignorance. I had an emergency red flashing light which I switched on, and I lay on the sand half awake from my ordeal. Then I heard it! The splash of a big fishes tail in the wash.....Man! There he is! If I was gonna die, dammed if I wasn’t gonna go without catching that striper!

In another burst of foolish stubbornness (the mark of every possessed surf fisherman), I got up and put back on my soaked waders, snapped on a needle fish, and started casting like a lunatic on steroids.

Nothing! Man nothing hit! I started to pray, "Dear God I've come so far, I know the fish are out there, it means so much to me that I get one striper, please help me." Then I saw a towering dark figure standing clad in waders moving slowly by me in the shadows - 6ft 4 and then some, 340lbs and then some. This was a man sized surf fisherman!

I thought to myself "Hey! This must be one of the famous regulars of Montauk, he surely would tell me the right lure to use." But I also knew that "regulars" hate "yocks" (that means rank amateur fumbling fishing idiots), and I had to show him that I was at least "not a yock". So I started casting out 100 yards or more, as far as a could, with my best full casts to prove my authenticity as a surf fisherman.

"Good evening Sir! I said, then I went on to tell the tall huge shadowed "regular" of my adventures and mishaps.

"You came all the way from Istanbul Turkey to catch a striped bass?" exclaimed the regular.

"Yup, and let me tell you buddy I'm about ready to drop dead here if I don't catch anything" I said.

Later I learned that this truly gracious gentleman was none other than the famous legendary "Tin Squid" Mr. Ken Kassan. He was so kind, a true class and gracious person, he took me in his jeep and we fished into day break together, and witnessed one of the greatest blitzes (fall of 1990 <--remember that one?). I called him my "Abi," in Turkish this means beloved and respected older brother, and that is what Ken Kassan has always been to me. He has always shared his passion and knowledge of fishing with all of us (as Ken would say) "diseased" new comers to this wonderful sport, but most of all he has shown the kind of patience and guiding light that only a person of true wisdom can give.

On the false bar November 13th 1990 it was a pitch black night with the half moon coverd by clouds, it was cold, I was all alone that night but this time I was armed with the knowledge that my mentor, "Abi," Ken had given me. I crept out to chest deep water and threw out a 3oz white darter, I did nothing but let the current take it around the rip and then the slack tightened, 2 cranks later she was on (I screamed so f#&king loud the the guys on Murderer's Row all came running out of their campers), 15 minutes later 34lbs of striped beauty was laying on the bar. I stood in disbelief at what I had just done. Again I screamed "I hope you can hear me Kenny, big brother, I did it." A bunch of voices came from Murderer's Row: "Shut up, you will tip everyone off, shut the F%&%K up you yock."  Then I raised the fish over my head as the grumps turned to silence and everyone knew I was no longer a yock.

That was almost 10 years ago, I have caught "and released" a lot of bass since then, and this sport has grown more every year with the new wave of stripers around (and of course hordes of pesky yocks to deal with).  But when I fish I show the same respect and class to everyone that my mentor showed me, because I have learned that any person can learn to catch fish, but only a chosen few have the caliber to be true surf fisherman, and carry all that it represents. From Cuttyhunk to Oregon Inlet, from Nova Scotia to Nags Head, there is an unwritten code of honor and respect between all "true surf fisherman," a code that separates the men from all the other bums who can fish.

I salute my mentor, teacher, big brother and good friend Ken "the Tin Squid" Kassan. I am in Bahrain at this moment, in the middle of the desert, and as I look at the waves of sand dunes, I can not help but envision the white caps of Montauk, and the towering figure which was truly a "big man".

God must of heard my prayer that night because he blessed me with Ken's friendship.  Just thinking of you big brother Ken! (Surf Abi)

Tight Lines...

"Good luck with your new home in Nantucket"

The story of a surfcaster coming all the way from Turkey to fish Montauk is still one of Ken's favorites, and he tells it to all new surfcasters he meets.  Ken Kassan relocated to Nantucket in 1996, and is now a "Nantucket Local."  If you are fishing the beaches of Nantucket, keep an eye out for a truck with a MA license plate that reads "TINSQID."

Last Updated ( May 19, 2009 at 08:17 AM )

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