Power & Motor Yacht

Nothing compares to the look on the face of someone— young or old—suddenly bitten by the fishing bug.

Bringing others into our chosen sport may be the best part of fishing.


Most of us for whom fishing is much more than a hobby learned to love the sport from a relative. My father hunted and fished extensivel­y so that way of life came naturally to me. In fact, the majority of adult men I knew as a child hunted and fished. I suppose that’s not surprising, since my dad would hang around with other guys who shared his interests.

That was the 1960s, when life was less complicate­d. There were fewer diversions available to adults: three-channel TVs, no internet, etc. Traveling was much more difficult and expensive; flying seemed exotic back then (remember dressing up to fly?), and fishing excursions to foreign lands were hard to arrange and typically reserved for the most elite and wealthy sportsmen.

Not anymore. People now routinely fly to Central America to fish for the weekend. Even Africa and Australia are within reach for many of us. Never before have so many angling opportunit­ies presented themselves to so many. But even as opportunit­ies have multiplied, so have thousands of new diversions and ways to spend our precious free time. In short, there are a lot more cool things to do now than when my dad was young, and the almost limitless possibilit­ies have diverted many young people from a life spent outdoors.

So how do we win people back who may have drifted away from our beloved sport, and how do we show new people the wonders of a life spent chasing fish? These are questions we ponder continuous­ly in the recreation­al fishing industry; the “three R’s” as we like to say—recruitmen­t, retention and reactivati­on. These challenges keep a lot of people busy, for several different reasons.

The most obvious goal for those in the industry is to grow our customer base and therefore our businesses. Recreation­al fishing in saltwater alone creates multiple billions of dollars each year for the U.S. economy. In addition, increasing the number of participan­ts in the sport enables us to gain more political clout, an area in which we’ve seen tangible gains in recent years.

Aside from the laudable goal of financial and political growth, however, there exists a more altruistic and satisfying reason to introduce people to our sport. It’s just plain fun to see a passion ignited in someone whom you’ve taken fishing, maybe for the first time.

I had such an experience in the mid-1980s when my wife, Poppy, and I took an old friend of hers from Connecticu­t on a fishing trip to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. Her previous Bahamian trips with her husband, a man of some means, had all been to posh resorts with freshly raked beaches, white linen tablecloth­s and sparkling swimming pools.

We intended to show her the other Bahamas, where everyday fishermen like us hang out. We rented a simple cabin on the beach, drank Kalik beer and shot pool in local bars, and, of course, went fishing.

Our first day dawned windy with storm clouds on the horizon, but I had heard yellowfin tuna were biting so by God, we were going. I had a 26-foot Mako at the time, and not long after crossing the reef, we saw a large flock of birds. I quickly deployed a spread of lures and attempted to maneuver the boat through the heavy chop to intercept the fish.

As the boat moved in front of the birds and I watched the lures entering the strike zone, I said, “Get ready!” My wife’s friend turned to me and asked, “How do you know when one bites?” I stood her next to one of the 30-pound convention­al trolling rods we were using and said, “Watch these. You’ll know.”

Not 10 seconds later the rod next to her bent over hard and 30-pound line began screaming from the reel. “I think that’s one

 ??  ?? Ben Brownlee, the author’s son, with a sailfish caught by his mother, Poppy, off Alligator Reef in Florida.
Ben Brownlee, the author’s son, with a sailfish caught by his mother, Poppy, off Alligator Reef in Florida.
 ?? By John Brownlee ??
By John Brownlee

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