Sport Fishing - - CONTENTS -

Our fans re­cently chose six top cap­tains in the an­nual Sport Fish­ing Char­ter Cap­tains of the Year con­test for 2017. Con­grats to cap­tains Peter and Brian Ba­con (Snug Har­bor, Rhode Is­land), Rob Crocitto (Staten Is­land, New York), Adam Peeples (Destin, Florida), Jay Scony­ers (Mur­rells In­let, South Carolina) and Ja­son Stock (Anna Maria Is­land, Florida). (You can read more about them at sport­fish­ing­mag.com.)

But, of course, there are thou­sands of great off­shore char­ter skip­pers and in­shore guides around the United States who might not be na­tion­ally rec­og­nized for what they do, but who are rec­og­nized day in and day out by an­glers who come to fish with them and leave with great mem­o­ries.

To all these pro­fes­sion­als, I say bravo and of­fer a sin­cere thank you.

You guys are am­bas­sadors to our sport, and serve on so many lev­els. Most of you are con­ser­va­tion-ori­ented stew­ards of marine game fish and the en­vi­ron­ment, from pro­tect­ing habi­tat to teach­ing best prac­tices for re­leas­ing un­harmed those fish not kept for din­ner.

Many of you, at var­i­ous times, serve as a gate­way to the sport at its best, tak­ing out folks who might not have fished much or haven’t fished salt wa­ter, or per­haps haven’t ever fished any­where at all.

While I have fished with guides who were gruff or ir­ri­ta­ble, I’ve found those to be ex­cep­tions. Mostly, pros in this game are nat­u­rally pa­tient and are great com­mu­ni­ca­tors. After all, if they don’t en­joy peo­ple, they’re in the wrong busi­ness to be­gin with, since guid­ing is about peo­ple, even be­fore it’s about fish. Typ­i­cally, an­glers be­come cap­tains be­cause they’re pas­sion­ate about the sport and want to share that pas­sion.

And, par­tic­u­larly, most of you skip­pers have op­por­tu­ni­ties to take young­sters fish­ing. That could well be their first time on a se­ri­ous fish­ing out­ing, which makes such a day pretty im­por­tant: A bad ex­pe­ri­ence could turn off kids to fish­ing; a great one could ce­ment their en­thu­si­asm as an­glers for life.

Does a “great fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence” mean catch­ing lots of tro­phy fish? Hardly, es­pe­cially to young an­glers. I think it has more to do with feel­ing good about what­ever they catch, and most fish­ing guides get that. I’ve seen kids walk away from a guide’s boat after catch­ing noth­ing that you or I would think worth men­tion­ing. Yet a good guide’s en­thu­si­asm rubs off, so at the end, they’ve learned a bit, and had a great time and a fun day — and isn’t that what fish­ing’s all about?

I only wish SF could rec­og­nize all the great guides out there, but — I’m glad to say — there are just way too many. So we’ll just whit­tle away at the larger uni­verse of pro­fes­sion­als, nam­ing a few at a time ev­ery year. On that ba­sis, I hope lots of you will be ready to nom­i­nate any great cap­tains or guides with whom you’ve fished when our 2018 Char­ter Cap­tains of the Year con­test opens up for names next fall.


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