FROM THE BRIDGE

Giv­ing credit to the leg­ends of the sport

Marlin - - CONTENTS | DEPARTMENTS - BY CAPT. SK IP SMITH

Ihave al­ways en­joyed the his­tory of big-game fish­ing, from walk­ing through the head­quar­ters of the In­ter­na­tional Game Fish As­so­ci­a­tion when E. K. Harry was sit­ting be­hind his desk, back when they were lo­cated on A1A in Fort Lauderdale, Flor­ida, to read­ing books by Zane Grey and Ernest Hem­ing­way. I am even more ex­cited about what Johnny Mor­ris is do­ing with the new IGFA fish­ing mu­seum in Springfield, Mis­souri, as mil­lions of peo­ple will now be able to learn more about our sport. Among the many dis­plays will be the IGFA Fish­ing Hall of Fame, rep­re­sent­ing some of the most in­flu­en­tial mem­bers of the world­wide sport-fish­ing com­mu­nity.

While I was at­tend­ing the IGFA Fish­ing Hall of Fame in­duc­tions over the years, I no­ticed that not too many cap­tains and crews were be­ing rec­og­nized — the cri­te­ria for the award did not ap­ply to an­glers and cap­tains un­less they were also an in­ven­tor or writer. It dawned on me that if it were not for the many great cap­tains and crews out there tak­ing peo­ple fish­ing, in­tro­duc­ing them to the IGFA an­gling rules and show­ing them a good time on the wa­ter, there would not be as many peo­ple en­joy­ing our sport. It was time to start rec­og­niz­ing our peers.

The IGFA agreed, and the Leg­endary Cap­tain and Crew Awards were born. The first thing we needed was a list of those de­serv­ing of such an award and the cri­te­ria to re­ceive it. A se­lec­tion com­mit­tee was formed, con­sist­ing of me, Karl An­der­son, Bobby Brown, Gary Ellis, Bark Garnsey, Billy Har­ri­son, Steve Lass­ley, Charles Perry, Bouncer Smith, Gary Stuve, Lau­rie Wright and Pe­ter B. Wright. We then made up a list of cap­tains and crews and, with more than 100 names on the list, the event was ap­proved. We had our first awards pre­sen­ta­tion in 2011, and what a ter­rific event that was.

The awards were great, but it was the sto­ries that made it even more spe­cial. Be­fore they re­ceived their awards, each per­son had a cou­ple of friends share a few sto­ries about them, and it re­ally turned into a fun evening.

Each cap­tain or crewmem­ber is pre­sented with the Tommy Gif­ford Award, so named be­cause Gif­ford is con­sid­ered one of the most in­no­va­tive blue­wa­ter an­glers who ever lived, and one of the great­est char­ter skip­pers to guide an­glers to ma­jor game fish. The pri­mary cri­te­rion for re­ceiv­ing the award is that the cap­tain or crewmem­ber must have pro­vided lead­er­ship in their trade and have earned the re­spect of their peers, thus mak­ing a mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion to the sport of recre­ational an­gling over an ex­tended pe­riod of time. The nom­i­nee must also demon­strate that he or she has es­poused the eth­i­cal an­gling stan­dards set forth by the founders of the IGFA. To quote Mark Sosin, “There is no greater honor than to be rec­og­nized by your peers. You can­not buy it — you have to earn it.”

This year, the Leg­endary Cap­tain and Crew Awards will be held dur­ing the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, which will make it eas­ier for many of the younger cap­tains and crews to at­tend, and where they will be able to pay re­spect to the in­ductees and hear about their ac­com­plish­ments on the wa­ter.

The sto­ries alone are well worth the price of din­ner. See you there in Novem­ber!

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