Notes from the Tackle Room: Charlie Cinto and the Goo-Goo Eyes

Leo Cooper of Stamford, Connecticut, invented the Goo-Goo Eyes plug in the late 1950s to bewitch big striped bass. It worked. On the night of June 16, 1967, Charlie Cinto caught the Massachusetts state record seventy-three-pound striped bass while trolling a blue and white Goo-Goo Eyes Big Daddy at Cuttyhunk with Captain Frank Sabatowski. Charlie recently told me that the way they fished was to back down to a rip, keep the boat in position, and let the plug go back into the strike zone on wire line. “Then hold on! I remember every nerve in my body would be ready. It was my favorite way to fish on those wild nights at Gay Head and Cutty.”

Cinto is not only a legend, but is still going strong at eighty-five years of age. He caught two forty-plus-pound stripers from the riprap of the Cape Cod Canal in 2013 to add to the thousands he has caught there in the past, including a fifty pounder. The slippery boulders and strong currents of the canal are challenging for anglers of any age, but for an eighty-five-year-old to land two forties is nothing short of remarkable.

When Charlie caught his record seventy-three pounder, I bought a few Goo-Goo Eyes for myself. Although I didn’t come close to duplicating his success, I always admired the plug’s aura, and painted this still life for a show at my New York gallery in 1989. I never knew who the buyer was until I met her in the Bahamas in 2013, twenty-four years later.