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Their Happy Place

by Steve “Tuna” Tornovish

Beach fishing doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. Sure, you’re not going to hang out with a lot of people if you’re out fishing a slack tide at zero dark thirty, but there’s lots of time to meet new people when you’re out in the daylight. And that’s how I met Brian and Tracy Majczak. We were introduced while fishing with friends at Great Point on a Sunday afternoon. They are the kind of people you instantly like. Tracy, a first grade teacher, is a warm, happy person who just brightens the world. Brian is a solid, steady guy who lives to fish. Yeah, these are my kinds of people! And it got even better when Brian and I discovered that we share September birth dates (I arrived 11 years ahead of Brian). How could I not want to hang out with these two?

I sat down with the Majczaks recently on Great Point, the place that Tracy calls their Happy Place. The fish were hiding, so Brian and I actually had some time to catch up.

Tracy told me, “We first came to Nantucket 24 years ago. I remember that it was 1999, and we were on the boat going back home. The boat crew spotted a life preserver in the water. The boat had to stop and recover it because it was just after JFK Jr.’s plane had gone down. But we felt that Nantucket was special. It was fun. We had been to Newport, Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island. Nantucket was the best.”

Brian reminisced about his first experiences fishing Great Point. “Some friends brought us out to Great Point. This was back when the Point was open and you could cast into the rip. We caught a ton of bluefish. It was amazing!”

Brian spent a lot of his Nantucket time at Barry Thurston’s Tackle Shop in town after that experience. Barry gave Brian a lot of tips about what equipment to use and how to fish the Nantucket waters. Brian was a sponge and took it all in. “I still have my shirt from Barry’s tackle shop. I wore it one day when I knew Barry was working (Barry now works as a ranger for the Trustees of Reservations, patrolling Great Point). He loved it. Barry was the one who told me that the bluefish were fun but the fall fishing for stripers and albies was the best. He told me that I had to get back to Nantucket in September. He was right.”

Brian and Tracy told me that the best thing about fishing Great Point is the relationships that they’ve developed over the years. “I met Michael O’Neil, Dave Small, Liz Shannon, and Kyle Snell while fishing out there. They were always helpful about showing me where and how to fish – different roads, access points. And Mike turned me on to Albie Snax, my favorite lure.” The Albie Snax is a translucent soft plastic bait that fishermen use with a single worm hook, either unweighted or with a lead keel weight. They don’t cast very far, but their action in the water is hard to beat. “If I could fish them with the wind at my back, I would fish them all day long. Soft plastic fishing is my favorite.”

Tracy loves to walk the beach while Brian is fishing. “I went for six miles today. I just walk along, listening to music while walking. I also love Elin Hilderbrand’s books. I bought her newest one to read while Brian is fishing. This is the most relaxing thing for me.” A veteran first grade teacher with 26 years of service is certainly entitled to some Great Point beach relaxation, I would say!

Brian, my birthday twin, hit a special milestone last September when he turned 50 years old. He made it a very special occasion by utilizing a bunch of accrued vacation time and renting a place for five weeks in order to fish the Fall Classic Fishing Tournament. This tournament is basically the Super Bowl of Nantucket fishing. Anglers compete from Labor Day to Columbus Day, seeking to catch their biggest striped bass, bluefish, false albacore, and bonito, as measured by length (catch and release tournament). Those four different species require a lot of skill and endurance to target and catch. Brian was ready. “I’ve participated in this tournament for 11 consecutive years, I believe. I have kept my buttons from each tournament, except for the 2019 one: I lost that one.” If anyone out there has a spare 2019 button, let me know—Brian’s birthday is coming up in a couple of months.

Brian knows his stuff when it comes to beach fishing. “My most memorable day was when I caught 30 albies in one day. That was before the seals were thick, and you could land most of the fish you hooked. I was throwing a bone-colored epoxy jig, 7/8 ounce. It was snotty: a big southwest wind was howling. I fished the outside (eastern) edge of Great Point.”

Tracy added, “Thirty is Brian’s lucky number. That was his lacrosse number in college. Plus our first date was on January 30, and our wedding was on September 30. It’s a very special number!”

Brian hit the beach running for the Fall Classic tournament. He quickly caught a big bluefish that measured 36.5 inches. Eventually he beached a 29- inch false albacore. He badly needed to catch a bonito, the scarcest of the four tournament fish. Remember how your high school teachers would explain how difficult it is to make up for a zero grade? Yeah, that’s how it is with the bonito. The tournament could not be won without catching a bonito, and not a lot of them were being caught.

Brian persevered. “I finally caught my bonito in the fourth week. Now I knew that I had a chance! It was my make or break moment for the tournament. Then it was time to find a big striper.”

Brian fished hard, putting in 14-hour days. Other fishermen were cheering him on, knowing that he had a shot at winning the tournament. “Dave Small, Dave Bold, and (two time Fall Classic winner) John Colton: they were very supportive and all gave me little tips about where to try.” Brian eventually found his way to Eel Point, an area that had been holding some big fish during the daytime. “Lois Boland (previous Fall Classic winner) had just caught a 41-inch monster during the day. I figured I had a shot.” Brian ended up catching a 37-inch striped bass. That gave him his final point total of 129.5 inches, just four points behind the eventual tournament winner Scott McGovern and enough for a second place finish.

Brian was happy with his effort. “It’s about trying to take in as much as you can. Life is short. I try to maximize my time on the beach. I think it’s a fear of missing out on the big one swimming by!” he laughed.

Brian and Tracy cherish their Nantucket time, particularly their time spent on the beaches of Great Point. They cherish the many friendships that they have developed out there. We should all take a lesson from their good example.

Steve “Tuna” Tornovish is a Nantucket native who has spent his life fishing
from the beaches of his beloved island. He loves to introduce clients to the
joy of fishing with his Nantucket Island Fishing Adventures: stevetuna.com

Articles by Date from 2012