By William (Bill) Woodroffe 3rd
As a member of the American Littoral Society, William (Bill) Woodroffe Jr. was a tagger. He was also our father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
He specialized in tagging stripers, threading the distinctive yellow tag behind the top fin of nearly 1,000 during his 35 years as a member of the Littoral Society. Almost 50 were re-caught, which resulted in him receiving reports of where and when the fish was hooked again.
As an avid surfcaster, most of his fish were tagged while surfcasting off the Riis Park/Ft. Tilden ocean beaches in Queens, NY. The farthest re-catch was a striper he tagged in December 1997, which was re-caught in Boston in 1999. He was proud of these reports, and they certainly gave us a better understanding of the world of fish, right in our own backyard.
Our own backyard was the shoreline of Brooklyn, Queens, and Jamaica Bay, where he grew up. His first fishing expedition was as a young boy fishing for snappers in Sheepshead Bay. Even when in the Navy during WWII, he managed a little fishing in Alaska and the South Pacific.
After the war, while living in Brooklyn, he never lost sight of surfcasting at the nearest beach. He joined the Littoral Society, named after the tidal area of beaches, in the late 60’s as a tagging member. In a sense he tagged us, his three children, with the deep appreciation of this littoral zone. His first tag, however, was the love of his life, our mom, who he drew into a surfcasting and fishing partnership during their nearly 70-year marriage.
Besides his wife and three siblings, his enthusiasm for fishing extended to grandkids and great grandkids. He introduced and taught all the “tricks of the trade” for successful fishing, while always emphasizing it was called “fishing” and not “catching”. Maybe they didn’t all take up the pleasures of traditional surfcasting, but none can deny gaining a sense of his regard for that environment and of how crucial it is to all life or how the natural ecosystem, even in a large urban setting, is important to people.
Dad believed the tagging he did would contribute critical knowledge toward protecting marine resources for future generations. He never overtly demonstrated for this, but his life and actions set an example of how individuals can make a difference.
Dad passed recently, after reaching his 101st birthday. I’m sure his last view of Sheepshead Bay from the nursing home brought back memories of standing in the surf at sunrise, hoping the tug on the line would be a big one but, more importantly, that his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren would have the same chance to experience the joy of fishing.
It is therefore with pleasure that the family and friends of William (Bill) Woodroffe send donations in his name in order that future generations will have that opportunity.
Tagging Profile for William "Bill" Woodroffe
Tagged fish: 982
First tag: 11/16/1986
Most recent: 9/7/2016
Number of species: 3
Striped Bass: 970
All NJ and NY tags
Largest tagged fish: 33-inch Striped Bass, caught at Rockaway, NY in 1993
Tag recaptures: 45
Longest out: 7 years