Folklorist Nancy Solomon has documented the maritime culture of Long Island through these interviews spanning the years 1987 – 2016. The collection includes baymen, fishermen, boat builders and other maritime tradition bearers.
Cory Weyant is a full time commercial fisher from Freeport, New York. He traps eels, killies, crabs and other finfish using traps he has built himself. He also works on trawler fishing boats. Cory grew up in Freeport and learned his skills through the community. His father was also born in Oceanside and worked in the boating industry, running transport boats and working at bait stations. Cory started fishing and swimming at a very young age
Scope and Content Note:
Cory remembers catching more fish in the past than they do today due to pollution from speedboats. He started working on a dragger boat called the St. Peter when he was 17 years old and eventually ran a fish market where he learned about smoked fish. The Jones Inlet Fish Market was run by Bruce Larson, a packer who helped the business grow. Cory learned most of his skills by observation, and he lived on the Woodcleft Canal and worked for Capt. Lou, the founder. Despite his experience in the industry, Cory hates working inside and has a unique business philosophy. He talks about how the area around Woodcleft has changed in the last ten years, including the development of the "Nautical Mile." Cory's grandfather, nicknamed "Snuffy" because he needed horsefoot crabs to go eeling, ran an oil tanker and was born in Freeport. His family has been in the area for over 60 years and had a large farm in Oceanside. His great-grandmother was born in Germany and came to the United States in the 1920s. She farmed until the 1950s.
Cory's father enjoyed rod and reel fishing, and the family went on boat trips and spent time on yachts. Cory's work in the industry included smoking eels, which he did as a hobby at first before selling them at the fish market. The work was seasonal, as it was too hot in the summer, and he needed to know a variety of skills to make a year-round living, including trapping, which he learned to do himself. Cory talks about the dangers of boating and the importance of being careful, having saved two cops while duck hunting. He also talks about learning how to build a raft and fix boats and how he made a gunning boat out of plywood and fiberglass in shop class at the age of 12. He now uses a Garvey built by Shaefer and has a friend in the tree business who gives him fruitwood to smoke his eels. In addition to eels, he smokes turkey, ducks, venison, pork, and fish, primarily for friends. He talks about the summer eels and jacking spears and how he made his own eel traps about five years ago. He left the fish market to work in the bay and discusses his brine recipe, which includes brown sugar and salt in water.
Cory talks about his smoking technique, including the use of salt to cure the meat and brown sugar to combat the salty taste and add color. He makes the oil for himself, leaving the brown sugar in the salt and cooking it. Cory is the only person in the area who smokes meat, and he does it because he enjoys it. He learned the technique from "old timers" like Dick Abbott and Elwood Verity, who smoked meat in garbage cans. He has a relationship with his customers, including Germans who order from him. He decorates his house and yard with nautical items, including a lighthouse that has been there for 20 years and doors that came from a dragger.
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