Did you know that a Montauk fisherman partially inspired the movie Jaws? The unforgettable character Quint, played by Robert Shaw, in the 1975 blockbuster was based on Frank Mundus, a sports fisherman from Montauk who chartered out his boat “Cricket II” for big game fishing and thrill seekers. In 1945, Mundus began a charter fishing operation in Brielle, New Jersey, with the Cricket. In 1947, he had the Cricket II custom built.
In 1951 he moved to Montauk to run charters for bluefish. Unfortunately, the bluefish were not very plentiful. One thing that was very plentiful in the Montauk waters? Great white sharks. Mundus started “Monster Fishing” charters, with boats leaving the port at Lake Montauk. On June 6, 1964, He claimed to have caught a 4,500 lb. great white shark by harpoon, a tale that greatly inspired the Quint character in Jaws.
In an interview, Mundus was asked:
Is it true that the shark hunter “Quint” in Jaws is based on you? In what ways does he resemble you?
Mundus – “Yes, he was. He knew how to handle people the same way I did. He also used similar shark fishing techniques based on my methods. The only difference was that I used handheld harpoons after field-testing harpoon guns and discovering that they didn’t work: the dart would pull out after hitting the fish.”
Later in his career, in 1986, he and Donnie Braddick caught a 3,427 lb. great white about 28 miles off Montauk, said to be the largest shark or fish ever caught by rod and reel.
Though Mundus was most famous for his shark hunting, he later became a shark conservationist.
In his final years, he campaigned for shark fishermen to catch and release their prey (publishing multiple books on the matter). Mundus died on Sept. 10, 2008, in Honolulu due to complications from a heart attack after spending the summer in Montauk. That same year, the Cricket II was docked at the Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead to support conservation of sharks.
Mundus’ legacy will live on through the character he inspired and the conservation he worked for in his later years.