Capt. Ronnie Riebe Scandalous (fishing on HT Hook)
Homeport: Jupiter, Florida
Boat: 2015 62’ Viking
Power: C32 Caterpillars/1925 per side
Los Sueños Signature Billfish Series, Leg 1, 1st Place, 500 Pts.
Capt. Ronnie Riebe had not planned to fish in the 2020 Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown. But when he got a call the Wednesday before the tournament saying the crew of the Scandalous needed a boat, he knew what was going to happen.
It’s this kind of situation that makes the HT Hook an outlier in the fishing world. While the boat’s owner, Harry Shufflebarger, may not fish tournaments anymore, Riebe says he always tries to keep the boat available for a team in need of a boat and a captain. The HT Hook, is named for the boss, a man who was known as “Harry the Hook” for many years.
That was how at the start of Leg I, Riebe—who has worked for the Shufflebarger family for almost 21 years—along with his first mate, Wailyn Vargas, and second mate, Jacob Provo, combined with the Scandalous team, took to the water.
“I have to give credit to the crew, it was a team effort and for never fishing together before and on such short notice, we all just came together,” Riebe says. “Everyone worked so well together, I was really impressed. It almost felt like we’d been fishing together for years.”
Along with Wailyn, who has been fishing with Riebe for 10-plus years, and Provo, who started fishing with him last January, the Scandalous team included Capt. Brian Shepard, anglers Rusty Little, Bradley Goodrich, Alan Latham, Keith Henry, Randy Gregory, and Corbin Plumlee.
Three or four guys were on binoculars, spotting boats, watching for birds and making sure they knew exactly where everyone was. When they tried out an area where there had been a marlin bite, the pace picked up. The team went 9 for 9 on marlin and according to Riebe, “had the right bites and made them count.”
The hybrid team’s total of 5200 points—seven sailfish and nine marlin releases—was good enough to take Leg 1.“At the very end, we knew that we were only one marlin out of winning the daily and then here comes this striped marlin,” Riebe says. “We fed the fish and were like ‘holy cow’ when we realized we had a shot of sweeping it and that was pretty special.”
As a captain, Riebe says his approach to tournaments comes down to tapping into all your resources. From talking to other captains and to trying different areas, to simply burning up fuel to find the right spot to settle in, Riebe uses all available information and tactics come tournament time. “Make all your shots count,” Riebe says.
When it comes to marlin, Riebe favors ballyhoos for hook baits, mullets for dredges and the occasional mackerel or bonita, depending on the size or species of the marlin.
And what’s next for Riebe and the HT Hook? At the moment it could be anything. The original plan was to continue fishing with the Scandalous team in Leg 3 of the Triple Crown, however, because of the coronavirus outbreak, the tournament was canceled. In the meantime, Riebe and the HT Hook will fish the blue marlin in Los Sueños and be ready to head out if there’s another team in need.
“We’ve just been trying to help out all the boats, we’re here to give them a hand if needed,” Riebe says. “We’ll just have to see what happens and try to help if a team’s boat breaks down. We want to help people out and try to contribute to the industry however we can.”
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