Hang this man by a treble hook through his lips


Charles Bowman, proud felon

Charles Bowman, proud felon

NY Post profiles chef who catches wild striped bass to sell in his restaurant.

But they’re not really here to eat. They’re heading out to sea in a chartered 41-foot Hatteras sportfish boat to catch the next night’s dinner at Periyali.

“If the fish is not fresh, I don’t put it in my restaurant,” Periyali owner Steve Tzolis, 76, says over the phone. Tzolis, who opened the restaurant in 1987 with his wife, Nicola Kotsoni, and owns several other NYC eateries, often joins the fishing expedition, but is currently summering in Mykonos in his native Greece — spending much of his time fishing for tuna.

Bowman recalls a trip Tzolis took back in January, when temperatures were frigid. “It’s in his blood,” says Bowman. “[Recently,] he caught three wild striped bass in one shot. They had to be at least 45 to 50 pounds.”

For a veteran restaurant chef, Bowman, 59, has a surprisingly gentle demeanor, and it shows as he balances a fishing rod across his lap and over the side of the boat. He doesn’t wait long before he suddenly senses a bite. “Feels like a blue[fish],” he says, calmly. “It’s not fighting.” He begins steadily reeling the catch in — the line’s about 200 feet out. Finally, the lure — a colorful work of art with multiple hooks custom-built by the deck technician — surfaces in a bubbling froth, and attached is what turns out to be a roughly 8-pound bluefish. The technician adeptly pulls it up, unhooks the mouth and drops it into a giant green bucket. It’s an impressive creature, but what this restaurant crew seems to be really interested in is the striped bass.

“You try to go for wild striped bass,” says Bowman, who grew up fishing in St. Petersburg, Fla., and has worked at Periyali on and off since the beginning. “Customers like the firm whitefish. It’s not as fishy as blue.”

Of course, getting out to Montauk is not an easy endeavor, especially in the summer — so is it worth it? “At $28 to $32 a plate, technically, our trip is paid for,” says Bowman, who recommends sourcing your fish from Citarella if you can’t make it out to Montauk or cover the $650 boat-charter fee. “Plus, we had a great time, and it’s great for the restaurant. It’s a win-win situation.”

Win-win for this criminal profiting from his crime, but not for the scarce striped bass nor recreational anglers.

First of all, the daily limit for striped bass in waters off New York is 2, no more.

Second, and far more serious, this chef and his restaurant owner are engaged in commercial fishing without a license, which is prohibited by law.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has busted restaurant owners for this before, but usually the owners claim (fruitlessly) that they’re just serving the illegally-caught bass to employees. This guy not only admits to selling the fish for profit, he gives its price. I’ll be sending a copy of the Post’s article to the DEC, but I imagine it will have already been flooded with complaints from angry anglers.




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17 responses to “Hang this man by a treble hook through his lips

  1. AJ

    As to the fresh fish, I’ve always been pretty much of an instant gratification kind of guy and ate anything I caught the same or next day and so on depending on how many I caught. But I remember one guy in OG who always aged his stripers on ice either in the spring snow or a cooler (not frozen) for a week, claiming they tasted better that way. What’s your opinion?

    And I understand there’s a limit on snappers in CT now. WTF, as if there were a million people out there fishing for them. The whitebait will be pleased. My record for one day is 30 and the occasional striper that like to run with the snappers.

  2. Anonymous

    he should be like milos and pay stupid $ to have the fish fed ex’d in from around the world, and then charge even more stupid money to patrons.

    i had a good but generally unimpressive dinner there the other night and it was a little over $200/per. insane. absolutely insane. fish was cooked perfectly thought, i’ll give ’em that.

    • AJ

      $200 for the stuff that Catholics moaned and groaned about having to eat every Friday? I remember when the filet-o-fish was 15 cents; the bun and the tartar sauce were free from Mickey D.

      • AJ

        Come to think of it, considering inflation, that would have been only twenty dollars in yesterday money.

  3. Not too libertarian of you my friend.

    • You talking to Me? Nothing in libertarianism or free market theory supports plundering the oceans

      • One fish beyond his quota is not precisely what I’d call plundering. Nor could he really be perceived as a commercial fisherman in terms of real volume caught. Besides government agents enforcing such regulations against minor players in any market really operate as a protection racket for the big market players.

  4. Anonymous

    yeah, since when do you give a shit about DEP regs ??