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Nick Karas, Newsday outdoors columnist, dies at 81

Newsday sports writer Nick Karas. (Aug. 11, 1993)

Newsday sports writer Nick Karas. (Aug. 11, 1993) Credit: Newsday/Joe Dombroski

Nick Karas' fishing columns and reports were so popular while he was writing for Newsday that he had to change the name of his boat when he went out on Long Island Sound.

"He called it Fishday -- a combination of Newsday and fishing," his wife of 58 years, Shirley, said. "Everybody knew who it was and everybody just followed him. He had to change the name just so we could enjoy a little privacy when we went fishing."

Karas, who was a full-time Newsday outdoors columnist from 1976 until 1997, died Sunday at his home in Orient. He was 81. "He definitely loved what he was doing," Shirley Karas said. "People were calling the house all the time asking him where the fish were biting. I put the phone in my name, but people figured it out."

According to Karas' son Steven, his father wrote more than 3,500 columns for Newsday, mostly about hunting and fishing. He also wrote more than a dozen books and numerous magazine articles. "He fished all over the world," Shirley Karas said, adding that for one of his two published novels, a fisherman's tale entitled "Hunky," he visited the book's setting, Ukraine, four times. "He was obsessed with accuracy," she said.

Karas, who lived for many years in St. James, was born in Binghamton in 1931. After a tour of duty in the Navy, he attended St. Lawrence and Johns Hopkins universities, majoring in biological sciences. He received a master's in journalism at Syracuse University.

After college, he joined the staff of True magazine and then became outdoors editor of Argosy magazine. He was a full-time freelancer traveling the world for more than a decade before joining Newsday.

One of his books, "Brook Trout," published in 1997, is considered "the ultimate book" on the subject, according to Steven Karas, who said in an email to Newsday that another book, "The Striped Bass," had numerous reprints.

In 2008, Nick Karas wrote a book called "Sight Fishing the Flats and Beyond," which was mainly based on his Long Island experiences.

"He fished so much before his stroke 21/2 years ago," Shirley Karas said. "But what he got the biggest kick out of was putting people on the fish. I would always out-fish him, but he liked that. He was all about the thrill of the hunt."

In addition to his wife and son, Karas is survived by sons Kenneth and Michael, and five granddaughters. Burial will be in Calverton National Cemetery after a private family funeral.

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