by Elliott Stark (This article appears in January/February 2015 Volume 14, Edition 1 of InTheBite The Professionals Magazine)
Just about everybody has a story about a captain who, despite being able to catch fish like a hawk, is passed up time and again for sportfishing jobs, often for guys who by comparison couldn’t catch fish in a barrel. And there are stories of the eccentric gazillionaire owner with the newest, trickest boat, the most incredible travel schedule and the latest in electronics who burns through captains like the Cleveland Browns run through quarterbacks. In the end it comes down to the owner/captain relationship.
A Marriage of Sorts
While there are no nuptials or rings exchanged upon taking a new job, the arrangement between a captain and the owner of a sportfisherman can have more in common with a marriage than with the traditional workplace relationship. Consider the following: In terms of hours, there is nothing 9 to 5 about a professional captain. Each party has quite a bit at stake in the relationship—the owner can easily have several million dollars invested in their floating fish-catching assets (not to mention an annual budget of several hundred thousand dollars’ more). The captain’s livelihood depends quite directly on the relationship.
The marriage metaphor between captain and owner can be especially true on a travelling boat. On an extended trip, the owner and crew may live together for weeks or even months at a time. During times of extensive travel, the crew may have more interaction with the owner than they do their own families. What starts out as an incredibly spacious and luxuriously appointed sportboat interior can after several months at sea begin to seem like a floating prison inlaid in mahogany.
The Expert Perspective
So what are the secrets to a lasting relationship? We’ve spoken with some individuals with a great deal of experience on both sides of the checkbook. While each hails from different backgrounds and operates unique fishing and travel programs, there is still a great deal in common in the ways they approach sportfishing. Their experiences and insight can be useful for anyone on either side of the owner/captain relationship.
Buddy Schultz owns the Gotcha, a 65-foot Robin Smith. Over his tenure as boat owner, Schultz has worked with some great bridge talent including Captains Jimmy Kitchell, Cujo Brinkmeyer and Mike Canino. While stationed in Los Sueños, Schultz and Kitchell won the 2011 Los Sueños Signature Series title. In addition to his time fishing in Costa Rica, Schultz’ boats have fished throughout the Gulf Coast and in the Caribbean, up and down the Pacific coast of Central America and off the coast of Africa.
Captain Eddie Wheeler can be found at the helm of the Marlin Darlin, a 62-foot Spencer. He’s spent his life as a sportfishing professional, and at the age of……………(To continue reading this article click here) You can also subscribe to InTheBite The Magazine to enjoy more industry leading editorial.