Robert Warren owns the Honey Hush – a 62-foot Spencer. With Captain Chuck Lindner at the helm since July 1980, Warren’s operation is interesting on a number of levels. Warren, Lindner and the Honey Hush fishout of North Carolina – Moorhead, Hatteras and Pirate’s Cove. This is his story.
By Ric Burnley
On his first day fishing the 2018 Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, Robert Warren stuck two flying gaffs in a 518.5-pound blue marlin to put team Honey Hush in first place. Over the next three days, the team fished hard and waited for their catch to be bested. On the last day, after a slow week, blue marlin put on the feed bag with seven boats bringing big fish to the scales. Team Fender Bender radioed in a monster fish with similar measurements as Warren’s leader. As the competition’s catch was hoisted onto the scale and the digital display settled, Warren held his breath. After 42 years fishing the Big Rock, what’s a few more seconds?
As a youngster, Robert Warren started “dirt fishing” in the surf of Holden Beach, North Carolina. When his father bought a 31 Bertram and moved it to Morehead City, Warren graduated to bluewater fishing. Eventually, the family decided to test its skill in the Big Rock, one of the biggest blue marlin tournaments in the world. That was 1977.
Warren, and his crew on Honey Hush, finally won the Big Rock, by following the advice Warren learned as a young man. “I grew up fishing with Dr. Leroy Allen,” Warren points out, “he always said ‘Fish for the biggest fish.’” Warren fished with his father under the tutelage of Allen, a pioneer of big game fishing off the Outer Banks. “Dr. Allen was my mentor,” Warren says.
Fishing for big blue marlin takes dedication and patience. “Blue marlin over 500-pounds are a different animal,” Warren says, “you have to treat them differently.” Warren pulls big lures with heavy tackle, effectively cutting his chances at scoring another species. Skipper of the Honey Hush, Captain Chuck Lindner, agrees, “Robert is always fishing for one big bite.”
The tactic has paid off in the past. The crew placed highly in regional blue marlin tournaments, including a 911-pound blue that won the Swansboro Rotary Bluewater Tournament. Warren has recently taken top angler in the Hatteras Marlin Club and Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament and the better half of the team has bested the field twice in the Big Rock Keli Wagner Ladies Angler Event. “This family has a passion for fishing,” Captain Lindner says, adding that the focus of their passion is blue marlin.
When marlin tournaments mandated circle hooks on natural baits, Warren traveled to Hawaii and fished with Captain Kevin Nakamaru on Northern Lights. “I wanted to brush up on lure technology,” he says. Since then, they’ve dialed in the practice of pulling big plugs for East Coast blue marlin, traveling the world and learning from other big game anglers.
“Robert knows what he wants and rigs his own lures,” Captain Lindner says. Warren also handles wiring and gaffing the fish as it comes to the boat. “He explains to everyone who fishes with us what is going on and what to expect.”
In fact, Warren had just left the cockpit to switch lures when they go the big bite. “As soon as I step into the salon I hear, ‘There he is; right teaser!’” Warren, who was recovering from ankle surgery, watched the fish move to the left teaser then explode on the lure on the left short. “We had the fish in the boat in 40 minutes.”
Although the team participates in release tournaments, Warren gets most excited about blue marlin events. “Even up to the last day, I feel like I have a chance to win,” Warren says. In a release tournament, he explains, if a team gets ahead in the count they can be difficult to catch. “Even if another team catches a huge marlin, I still feel like I have a chance.”
Warren has been on the other end of that equation. On Friday 13, 1997 they caught a 632-pound blue marlin a few minutes after lines-in on the last day of the Big Rock. “Three hours later we were bumped by a 646-pounder,” Captain Lindner chuckles. That memory loomed in the team’s anxiety as they waited for the final day of the 2018 tournament. Lindner jokes, “Rob kept reminding us, ‘a 632 only lasted three hours.’”
That memory must have been playing in Warren’s mind as he watched Fender Bender weigh their blue on the last day of the 2018 Big Rock. When the scale hit 514.5 pounds, just four pounds lighter, team Honey Hush could finally celebrate.
Winning the Big Rock after over four decades won’t slow the team. Lindner says, “Our kids are grown, and we’ve got more time for fishing.” Warren adds that competition has improved giving his team a high mark to beat. “Used to be there were ten boats with the best odds,” he remembers, “now, crews are more professional and prepared so any boat could win.”
An old lesson still guides Warren’s team, “I always remember Dr. Allen telling me, ‘Fish for the biggest fish that swims.’”
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