CTF Name: Crazy Ivan Real Name: Craig Lengyel Age: 43 Current City: New Milford, CT Hometown: Norwalk, CT Family members: Me, myself and I. Brother, Christian and six cousins Occupation: Inventory Analyst
1. Why the screen name "Crazy Ivan"? My father is the real Crazy Ivan. He loved the movie “The Hunt for Red October” and during the movie the Russian sub would do a maneuver called a “Crazy Ivan”. My dad had the shortest fuse known to man. The man was truly crazy in some aspects and his first name was Irving. Irving-Ivan. Pretty close. I started calling him Crazy Ivan and he even re-named his boat to that. He passed 4 years ago so I use his name in his memory. Luckily I don’t have the crazy gene that he had.
2. How did you first get interested in fishing? My grandfather got me into fishing. He was a huge trout fisherman and taught me how to fly fish at 8. When the state introduceced fly fishing only areas we put mono on our reels and would drive worms on a fly rod. We then used those rods to fish for flounder, snappers, frost fish. I grew up in Norwalk and we would fish the Saugatuck River mostly for our trout trips. Three times a year we would do a road trip up to Cornwall to fish the Housy. Those trips I really cherished and was like an extra Christmas day each trip. Back then the waters up there we full of big trout and we would always limit on some nice fish. The long ride up from Norwalk to Cornwall was always a great with my grandfather telling me stories of his fishing adventures.
3. What is your favorite saltwater fish to target? Inshore it would be blackfish. I have blackfished pretty much all my life when my dad had enough money to own a boat. We used to do combo blackfish and winter flounder trips that was great. Funny that we did not fillet the fish back then. We used to skin the fish and eat them whole.
Offshore jigging up yellowfin tuna.
The past four years I’ve gotten into the offshore fishing with CTF members and I really got the bug. I did an overnight chunk trip on Captain Bill Brown’s boat last summer and jigged up an 80 pound tuna on what I would call a Bass outfit. I did another trip on Bob Bradley’s boat last year and we slammed the tuna with non stop action all night long. I am really looking forward to doing more trips this year.
A couple 80-pound class yellowfin caught last year on Capt Bill Brown's boat.
4. How did you hear of CTF? How has your fishing changed since joining CTF? A friend of mine at work told me of the site. He said there was some good info on what was biting and where. I remember logging on and seeing posts from John from Madison catching these huge Striped bass. Wow. I used to just fluke, bluefish, and blackfish before I joined CTF. Since I joined CTF I started fishing for striped bass and got into cod fishing, shark fishing and tuna. The ability to meet people and network has broadened my fishing experience immensely. Plus, I have made so many friends on the site where we fish on different boats. Last year I did not use my boat once and went on 10 different CTF’ers boats!! I even got into ice fishing. I live off of Candlewood Lake so it’s easy for me to have access to great ice fishing waters.
Craig's boat at the race.
5. Who are some of your favorite fishing partners? How did you meet? I first started fishing with BK from the site five years ago now. BK-Bruce and I fished 30 times a year for a few years. Bruce taught me allot about striper fishing and we got very good trolling using T-man tubes in Norwalk Waters. I started posting results from out trips and other local like Fishnchips-Rick and Striper Sniper-Chris became friends. It just blossomed from there. Now it seems like there are very few active members I have NOT fished with.
Right now I am fishing with the CTF cod squad (Vick, Mygirl, and Sungunabeach). The four of us have done a ton of cod trips over the years and have had a great time busting chops in my truck on the ride up and back.
6. Outside of fishing, what hobbies or interests do you like to pursue? I used to golf a lot and had my handicap under 10 but I just could not get it lower so I gave up and spend my time fishing instead. My younger brother Christian got me into NHRA drag racing 5 years ago and I am hooked. Going to the drag races at Englishtown, NJ and Redding, PA are the only hobby that will pry me away from fishing. The sound and force of an 8,000 hp top fuel dragster awesome.
7. You're active in organizing events and trips including Spring Blackfish bash and Hammopalooza one year. What draws you to the events? What got me really hooked on the site were the outings. We have not had the saltwater outings we used to but when I joined we had the Spring Blackfish bash, Hammopalooza. Fluke event and the fall blackfish bash. The last few years there was no Hammopalooza or fluke event. Bob Bradley and I have been keeping the Spring Blackfishing event going and Fuzzy has done a great job keeping the fall blackfish bash. I plan on trying to drum up interest this June/July for another Hammopalooza. Hopefully we can get enough interest to bring the events back to the glory days. We had a CTF cod trip last Friday. Report.
8. How do you feel about the proposed saltwater license? I feel it’s inevitable so why fight it. It would be nice to see all of the funds collected to go to the DEP for fisheries management and not into the general fund.
9. What was your first boat? My first boat was a 17’ GTX Winner that I co-owned with my younger brother. I sold that in 1994 and bought a 21’ Checkmate Enchanter. I used to blast around Candlewood at 60 mph and bring my friends waterskiing. Both boats were meant for freshwater and I wanted fishing boats so I got rid of that boat for my current boat a 21’ Dixie Cuddy walk around fishing boat. I sold the motor to my checkmate to Don P from the site. I will never forget when Don showed up at my house with his dad. Don and his father wanted to check all the cylinders on the motor for compression. Somehow their gauge made it to the ground and I stepped on it band broke it. I thought Don P Sr was gonna grind me up into little Crazy Ivan burgers but it worked out good and Don took me on my first striper trip and on that trip I caught my biggest striper -- 36.5 pounds!
Craig's biggest bass: 36.5 pounds caught on Don P's boat.
10. Is there a species of fish that you haven't caught that you would most like to catch? I would like to do a trip to Costa Rica or Cabo some day. Watching the fishing shows during the winter you see some amazing fishing down there. Catching an acrobatic fish like a sailfish or a blue or black marlin would be my wish list.
12. What are your thoughts on the direction CTF has gone? I like the idea that the site has a little less ball bustin than it did before. I think that was how a lot of the stuff that went on got started. I miss bustin Don P back and forth hijacking a thread. I’ve gotten some people mad at me and received a few PM asking what was going on. The idea of a pay site makes no real difference to me. The price is nothing compared to what I spend a year on fishing and is well worth it. I couldn’t care less if people see where they think I am fishing. I know how to take creative pictures with no background and sometimes I might post that all the fish I caught were at 11B
13. How did you get into smoking fish? BK-Bruce gave me one of his old smokers. I remember having the smoked bluefish pate at one of the offshore events and thought I would try smoking some bluefish and striper. It takes some time to figure out how long to brine the fish and how long to smoke at what heat. Well, I enjoy drinking beer and seem like I would need to add wood chips every 2 beers. Need to add wood about 4 – 5 times a batch so I would put a good dent into a 12 pack. I think I finally got it down and now have moved on to smoking chickens. Never thought of smoking spam like that guy did at the game dinner this year. It was pretty good!!
14. What kind of music do you enjoy? I’m a Howard Stern fan and listen mostly to his show during the day. Since I started listening to Howard I stopped listening to music. I used to be a big Eric Clapton fan in the 80’s and 90’s. I went to England in 1992 specifically to see him in concert at Royal Albert Hall. One of my best friends in high school and I went to England for a week and had floor seats and rushed the stage and I pushed my way to the stage. Eric came to where I was and played for an hour 5 feet from me. I had my camera and took a few shots; one is on my desk at work. Will never forget that concert.
15. What would you do if you won the lottery? Check into a fat farm or rehab center. But somewhere close to the salt water. I’ve gained a few pounds over the years and would like to do the rehab thing where food is just not available to me. After I get out I would buy a 74’ Viking Convertible and fish all year round. I need to win 100 million at least for me to buy the boat and be able to fill the 5,000 gallon fuel tank! Would be cool to run offshore in 5’ers and not feel a wave☺
16. What are your top three tips for catching big blackfish? 1. Spend the extra time to anchoring to make sure you are on a spot. Anchoring for Blackfishing can be extremely frustrating with the tide going one way and wind going another. Think you have it right and the anchor pulls. But, if you take your time and get on your spot it will make the difference between catching allot to catching nothing.
2. I have gone to using the smaller hooks. 1/0 to 3/0. And even those nasty circle hooks (not a fan of circle hooks but they do work)
3. Make sure you’re prepared with rigs. I make 5-10 rigs the night before. When the bite turns on you do not want to be tying rigs when you can pop on a rig and be in the game. Sometimes the bite only lasts for 30 minutes and you have to be ready.
17. Tell us about your dogs. For someone considering owning a dog, describe what it’s like. Unfortunately, I lost both my dogs last year. They were brother and sister that my dad gave me as a late Christmas present, New Years Eve. He brought them home from work right when I was going out to a party. I spent the whole night with them. One thing I learned was that I needed to socialize them with other dogs more and people. If you don’t your gonna have problems later since the dogs will see them as the enemy. I was lucky not to have any biting incidences but the dogs used to bark like hell at other dogs and kids. Training the dogs that they eat at a certain time and then take the out to does their business will save on accidents. I live alone and trained the dogs to eat at 7am, and then do their business, and they would then be good till 5pm when I got home from work. It puts them on a routine, and if you keep the routine you will not come home to some lab pyramids or indoor pee ponds.
18. What is the most "Beyond Addicted, Just Plain Sick!" thing you have done in the pursuit of fish? It’s got to be the mid-winter cod fishing trips we have done over the years. We did one last year January 11th with guys from CTF. The water temps are close to freezing and when we got to the grounds it had to be 5 to 6-footers coming in from two directions. I thought for sure I was going over the side and in that cold temps you would not last long. Luckily the seas calmed and we ended up with the most pollack and haddock I have ever seen. We could have sunk the boat with the amount of fish on the deck blocking the scuppers. We each came home with over 100 pounds of fillets and that made for many happy friends since I like to give most or all of it away.
Big cod on last year's CTF trip.
19. Do you have any funny stories about reactions from friends, family or co-workers about your fishing? My friends think I am nuts most of the time when they hear I left my house at midnight to drive to New Hampshire to be there by 4am to fish for cod in January. I get stuck in allot of DWI road blocks on these trips and one police officer asked where I was going on a Wintry morning. I told him fishing. He almost broke out laughing until he looked with his flashlight into the back of my truck and saw the 3 fishing rods and tackle boxes. He shook his head and grinned and told me to have a safe trip. I think the word has gotten around the police department since I go through the stops and they wave me though. I used to send e mails to my friends and family with links to the posts so they can see what I do in pursuit of fish. I get allot of return e mails asking if I am out of Lithium or if I regularly see a psychiatrist. They think I am crazy until I show up with some fresh fish. Nothing like eating fresh cod, Pollock or Haddock caught the day before!!
Last years killer pollack trip
20. Do you have a fish-that-got-away story that still haunts you? I have had some big blackfish on the either brought me into the rocks and broke the line or just popped off. Those things aggravate me but I would not say haunt me. What bothers me is losing a fish I never see. If I get a big striper on and he comes to the surface where I can get an idea how big it is then the hook pops I am fine with that. But the ones that act like a big fish and stay down peeling line and either come un-buttoned or wrap you around a lobster pot, those bother me. The last couple years I have lost some big fish that could have at least topped the 40-pound mark but lost for whatever reason. Still have not beaten that 36-pounder I caught on Don P’s boat. This year’s goal is still to get my first 40.