Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From the Wheelhouse
Around the early to mid seventies, a “band of brothers” of sorts began to appear along the Rockaway beaches. From Beach 36 Street, up to the eighties and into Fort Tilden, there was a local group of surfcasters who would be perched upon every jetty.
The rivalries that ensued became legendary, the friendships would last a lifetime. It was on Beach 59 Street that I first met Frank Rios. I was standing on my favorite rock alongside my friend Kenny and some not so friendly locals, if memory serves me correctly their names were Dick and Joey, add to that a few other names and the jetty was a virtual parking lot of bass sharpies.
Anyway, Frankie Rios, who at the time was living in the apartments just off the beach, would make his way to the jetty each morning with his pail of fresh bunker. He was a stocky strongly built man with a quiet demeanor. I, being the usual idiot that I am, ignored him at first; after all this was my jetty as were most of the jetties I fished in Rockaway. No, I didn’t have a deed for them, but that’s just how surfcasters think.
Well one morning Kenny and I run out of bait and Frank offers me a
Thanks Frank bunker. I gladly accept and cast the fresh offering into the water. Within five minutes I’m into a big bass and subsequently land a thirty eight pounder, from that moment on I liked Frank.
Since that morning I probably have either fished next to or near Frankie for the next thirty-five years or so. The only times I didn’t see Frank was when he was battling illness instead of fish. Either opponent Frank would always come in on top, because it was in him to be great.
You see Frank was great in ways that count. Frank was a great husband and father. If you had a problem with your boat Frank was there; a friend’s boat sinks Frank was there; your boat was down, you fished with Frank; endless testimonials to his kind heart and extraordinary personality. Frank’s heart was so big it came as a shock that on Monday morning aboard the Karen Ann, fishing with one of his best friends, another Frank, we got the call that Frankie’s heart had given out.
Even with the sad news we felt Frank’s spirit; after the call the fish turned on and it’s as if Frankie Rios had given us a farewell gift, a great morning of fishing. Everyone will miss Frankie Rios …