LEGENDARY AND BADASS: Shark Hunter & Inspiration for Quint From Jaws’ Frank Mundus
Frank Mundus landed some of the biggest goliaths the sea has ever held – nightmares containing row after row of razor sharp teeth, each the size of a newborn’s skull and evolutionarily designed to tear through flesh and slice through bone. He battled these leviathans his way, up close and personal, and for that he became a legend as well as the basis for the character Quint in the novel and subsequent movie Jaws.
Mundus was born on October 21, 1925, in Long Branch, New Jersey. In 1951 he started a charter fishing operation in Montauk, New York, specializing in bluefish. Although his first year of fishing proved to be less than spectacular, he did gain notoriety when he assisted in the recovery of the party boat Pelican after its capsizing left 35 of 54 party revelers dead. His reputation rose again when he quit taking clients out for bluefish and turned instead to sharks. And Mundus hooked some big ones.
Using chum made from dead pilot whales or basking sharks, Mundus and crew would lure sharks to his boat Cricket II and their baited hooks tied with piano wire leaders. Once a shark was hooked, the fight was on. Some sharks, great whites mainly, were so big Mundus would use handheld harpoons tied to floating barrels to tire them out. This method was used on Mundus’s biggest catch, a goliath great white that weighed an estimated 4,500 pounds. The shark was so big it took four barrels and five hours to bring it to the boat. It went on to be listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest catch.
Another record came Mundus’s way when he and Donnie Braddick reeled in a 17-foot, 3,427-pound great white utilizing tackle only. That fight took nearly two hours and earned the two men the distinction of having landed the largest fish ever caught on rod and reel.
Frank Mundus = Quint
As Mundus’s records grew, so did his reputation. And it wasn’t always good. Mundus was widely known for his explosive temper and volatile disposition. Even in the 1970s, with clients paying him an astronomical $1,500 a day, he would often belittle them to the point of nervous breakdown. He was coarse and had a dangerous affection for whiskey and often sat on the bridge of his boat with a Tommy gun across his lap. His choice in clothing only added to his mystique. In his heyday he wore a pirate hoop gold earring, an Australian slouch hat, and a huge white shark’s tooth around his neck. He also painted his left big toenail red for port and his right big toenail green for starboard.
Planning on being in Montauk, New York in the future? Stop by Salivars Restaurant and Marine Bar to gaze at the mount of Mundus’s 4,500-pound great white.
If you mixed Ernest Hemingway, Robert Ruark, Hunter S. Thompson, and four shots of tequila in a blender, a “Gayne Young” is what you’d call the drink!
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