“The things I love most about this business are the people I get to spend time with, the places we go, the quarry and the history of big game fishing, from the evolution of tackle to the modern technology of boats. I grew up looking at black and white photos of my Dad with marlin, giant tuna and many other notable catches. The photos are from places that he fished as a crewman/angler in the fifties, sixties and seventies that today are coveted and respected big game grounds from Florida to Canada. Hatteras Blue Marlin, White marlin from the canyons of the Mid-Atlantic and Newfoundland Giant Bluefin￼ tuna to name a few. One photo that I keep on my wall is my father standing next to a nice 325# Blue Marlin taken at the famous Oden’s Dock in Hatteras. It was one of three he and the crew caught that day, no small feat for the time period and the tackle, especially since they bested the locals. This was back in the day, when fish were laid on the dock, to prove that you caught the fish. We’re talking spring of 1962, just pre-me.
“Their trip to Hatteras was an annual pilgrimage each May for lifelong fishing partners from￼ Beach Haven to the fertile grounds off Hatteras on the custom built 43’Wheeler￼ Anthracite owned by one of my mentors and one of my Dad’s best friends, the late Dick Ryon, an entrepreneurial visionary in the insurance, real estate, development and hard coal businesses from eastern Pennsylvania. Dad, Dick, Barry Parker, Barry Baxter, Capt. Charlie Beer (I have always called them Uncle Barry and Uncle Charlie with fondness although we are not related) and a select few others including South Jersey outdoorsman Capt. Gene Hawn fished together as a competitive team and then for fun, up and down the coast from Florida to Cape Cod for over 50 years.”
“They were doing it on a first-rate level before most of the skippers that roam the hotspots today were even born. The once exotic as well as out of reach grounds of the east coast continental shelf canyons like the Baltimore, Wilmington and Hudson were within striking distance for the flash 18-knot Wheeler Anthracite that Dick￼ Ryon had commissioned in 1958 from the famed Wheeler yard. In the summer of 1959 they were the first to venture to the canyons and found what they were looking for, an abundance of white marlin. Actually, they really weren’t sure what they would find, but they had enough experience to figure it out and capitalize on the intriguing and previously un-fished grounds.￼ Another photo I have is of Dad after catching a Giant Bluefin tuna in Newfoundland Canada’s Notre Dame Bay, circa 1968, during some remarkable fishing. He caught the fish the exact same week that the hall of fame crew and heavy tackle idols Buddy Merritt, Charlie Hayden and Gary Stuve with anglers IGFA Chairman E.K. Harry and eventual Chairman George Matthews caught 16 giant Bluefin in one day.
“This incredible day of trolling for Giants set what was the long standing 20-odd year record for most caught in a single day. Merritt on his￼ 42’ Caliban along with his crew were able to fish just a little further out the bay baiting￼ untouched fish. It was too far for the local “Newfie” boat Dad and his buddies were fishing on to get to.”
“Dad was a top-rate deck hand that worked for some of the pioneers of our sport while a young deckhand on the famed charter dock of the Beach Haven Yacht Club. These guys have been written about in very early accounts of sportfishing history in such notable books as Eugene Connet’s “Big Game Fishing the Atlantic”. Dad worked at the waning end of the heyday of the largest charter fleet on the east coast at the time, from the revered Club. He first went to sea with his neighbor, Capt. Tom Jones on the Miraamy, a bluefin tuna pioneer that was THE guy that figured out how to repeatedly catch the football bluefins of the Mid-Atlantic bight on the Barnegat Ridge. Capt. Jones was an explorer of the day that was one of the first to go up and down the east coast seasonally starting in 1916 on a sailboat to the sailfish grounds of Palm Beach. Capt. Jones would travel to Bimini for its then well-publicized big-game marlin fishing of the day in the ’20’s and beyond. (more on Capt. Jones later)￼
“His first paying job was on the Seaspray with Fred Nichterlein with a $3.00 a day pay and all tips he could make. Tuna and bluefish provided the catch with an occasional white marlin getting not the fray. He hooked his first white with Capt. Nichterlein in the summer of 1947 and handed it over to a lady angler who was the￼ charter. There has been some other boats being the￼ whites so he had a rigged squid ready and took advantage of the situation making the day for the charter. Dad also fished on the Augusta for a somewhat cantankerous old skipper, (at least I remember him that way a young kid!) Capt. Bill Howe, a top rate machinist coming out out Camden, NJ who along with his father and brother also opened a small marina in Beach Haven carved out of the marsh where he dug out a couple deepwater lagoons with bulkheads to develop lots around them. My folks bought a lot from Howe and built the house they still live in today on one of those lagoons.”
“Dad was also deckhand for well known captain Walter Voss who gained a reputation for￼￼ capitalizing on the early big game money tournaments. Voss came to Beach Haven to run the Pompano a charter boat owned by Charlie Coney who also had a dock on the bay front in Beach Haven just down from the Yacht Club where they rented garvey’s for bay fishing and several offshore boats tied up there. Coney and his Pompano also made the pilgrimage north and south each year to Palm Beach.￼ Later on in life he would run a couple private boats including a nifty little custom built 37 footer named Yankee. She was built by Fred Thornes of the Toms River Boat Works for Mr. Charles Pritchard of Princeton, NJ who also had a summer home in Beach Haven and was a member of the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club and￼ moored her there.”
“Always enthused, Dad was a willing participant for many years fishing the canyons offshore in tournaments and for fun as well. After retirement from teaching the winter months beckoned he and Mom to Port Salerno, FL to be close to old friends and to fish the sailfish rich waters while retuning to Beach Haven in the summers.￼ Dad is gifted with an innate fishing sense and enough enthusiasm to fill the boat, which he still carries with him today, no matter what he fishes for. I think the thing that strikes me most is his absolute love of the sport. He has fished his whole life and still loves to go. Bottom fishing, jigging, top water casting, trolling. sailfish, marlin, tuna, fluke, dolphin, bluefish, weakfish, sea bass, stripped bass, you name it he loves it and it all brings him great happiness. I carry as much as I can remember of what I’ve learned from him everywhere I fish in regards to techniques, methods, how-to, where-to, when-to, but I hope most of all that I will always carry his enthusiasm and take the time to reflect on the￼ great times fishing affords us as we so often do when we are together fishing or not!”