Captain John Louis Dudas, Sandman, 63-foot Spencer
Homeport: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
1,200 points include: Buccaneer Cup, 3rd Place; Sailfish Challenge, 1st Place; Jimmy Johnson’s Quest for the Ring, 1st Place; Final Sail, 3rd Place
Not only is Captain John Louis Dudas in contention for the Captain of the Year in Florida every year, Dudas was named InTheBite’s Captain of the Year in both 2007 and 2009. Add to Dudas’ consistency and skill in finding sailfish in tournament situations, the Sandman fishing team is powered by an owner and crew who are as dedicated to fishing as is perhaps anyone in the world. The result of the combination is a high performance, high powered fishing team that is consistently successful – year in, year out. The consummate professional, Dudas is quick to deflect credit to others.
“For one thing, we’re lucky to be with an owner who fishes as hard as we do. She loves it and understands what it takes. You couldn’t ask for a nicer boss or a nicer friend,” says Dudas of Sandra MacMillan. Dudas next attributes success to the team and the approach to fishing. The Sandman’s tournament crew consists of first mate Jeffrey Liederman, mate Domi Adams “who is in charge of keeping the boat up and fishes, too,” and tournament anglers Alex Ramirez, Robbie Ramirez, and Robbie Waddick. For tournament fishing, Corey Ryan serves as the team’s camera man. Captain Chris Kaulen, who normally runs the Marlin Darlin, helped the team out for the Jimmy Johnson Tournament and the Buccaneer Cup. When it comes to the Sandman’s approach to fishing, it involves fishing as much as they can. “We fish as much as we can. We approach fun fishing the same way we approach tournaments,” Dudas explains. “For me, the crew is the best I think you can find. Everybody knows their role, it is like a well-oiled machine. It makes it really enjoyable to fish with everybody.”
Beyond overseeing a very skilled, professional crew, Dudas also manages a highly organized, precision-based bait program. South Florida’s kite fishing crews rely on an arsenal of live bait tactics that are near scientific in their approach. The Sandman’s approach exemplifies this well. “There’s lots of preparation – catching bait and bait care. Countless hours of preparation,” John Louis describes. “We catch our own bait – gogs, herring, pilchards and sardines. We keep feeding them and pen them behind Sandra’s house. We always have plenty of baits for the tournaments so we can focus on fishing instead of sourcing bait.”
“Every day we bring around 350 baits when we’re tournament fishing. We always have too much – but we approach every day like it could be a great day of fishing. It’s better to have too many than not enough,” Dudas says. “If we are fishing somewhere that we have to travel with the boat, we will bring extra bait and pen them up once we get there. If we have extra bait after fishing, we will put them back in the pen. Keeping baits for long periods of time builds up their strength and allows you to be able to move them.” With a great crew, a dedicated owner, and captain with decades of success, the next step in the process for the Sandman crew is belief in themselves. “Even if the fishing is slow one day, we know that we always have the chance to come back. Everybody believes in each other – that makes it a lot of fun.”
This approach paid special dividends in the Jimmy Johnson’s Quest for the Ring Tournament in Key Largo – a tournament that paid a purse of $395k to the winning boat. “We prefished the week before,” Dudas begins. “It’s always nice to learn the area where we are before the tournament. We were ready. On the first day, the fishing was slow. We caught three. The last day we caught ten. In the middle of the day, we were in the middle of the pack. In the afternoon, we caught five sails at once to take the lead. It was really exciting.” Captain John Louis Dudas even-keeled nature and eye for detail has resulted in sustained tournament success for a long time. InTheBite congratulates Dudas and the Sandman team for an outstanding 2018 campaign. If recent (and not so recent) history are any indication Dudas may well be in contention in years to come.