When Amanda Peterson guided her boat into the Long Island Sound on Tuesday evening, she wasn’t sure what to expect.
But the Osprey Fishing Fleet’s inaugural “Fishing to Feed Long Island Families” event proved to be a resounding success. After four hours, the boat and its passengers had reeled in more than 700 fish — and raised money and clothes — for Suffolk County food banks and aid organizations.
Peterson, boat captain and co-owner of Osprey, said she was inspired by other events in which groups donated their catch to charity and wanted to host her own with her business, which takes families out for fishing trips in the waters off Port Jefferson.
“I thought it was a such a great idea, we wanted to do the same kind of thing with other people interested in doing it,” she said.
The response was so big, she said Osprey had to cap the four-hour outing at 50 participants. The 720 porgies they caught went to Bishop Harrison Hale’s Community Cafe, which serves hot meals and stocks a food pantry in Medford.
Peterson said they asked participants to bring nonperishable goods in the event fishing was slow, but collected enough goods to fill an SUV for Maryhaven Center of Hope’s food bank. They also took clothes and through donations, raffles and fishing equipment auctions, raised more than $900 for Brookhaven Dress for Success, which provides women seeking jobs with clothes and training.
But the biggest success was the fishing — more than 700 fish caught is a good day of fishing for anyone, Peterson said, but especially for a charity event.
At the cafe, Hale said that while they once received a donation of fresh blue fish, the Osprey donation of porgies was the biggest ever. Between the food pantry and daily meals, the catch was enough to last two to three weeks.
“We were able to have fresh fish the next day,” he said. “People were coming back for seconds. The people who come to the cafe really enjoyed it.”
The cafe is serving fish up to three days a week, and giving portions away at the food pantry.
Dave Terry of Medford said he and his son Nick, 11, each caught about 30 fish. He heard about the outing from social media.
“The fishing was totally insane, it was just great fishing,” Terry, 47, said.
James DiCono, of Old Bridge, New Jersey, said he wanted to support his friends at Osprey, which Peterson co-owns with her husband, and bought raffle tickets even though he wasn’t able to attend.
DiCono ended up winning the 50-50 raffle, in which half the ticket proceeds go to the winner and the half to Dress for Success, but decided to donate winnings back to the organization.
“It was nice to win but felt nicer to donate,” DiCono, 39, said.
Peterson said the fishing event was so successful, she plans to make it a twice-annual tradition.
“We were really, really blessed,” she said. “We are going to be doing one of these again in the fall.”