Captain Alan Neiford is no stranger to fishing. Hailing from Leesburg, Florida, he grew up fishing in the Keys at his family’s home in Marathon.
“My nickname growing up was Fish,” Alan says with a chuckle. After learning the ropes while charter fishing around Charleston, Neiford was introduced to the pair of brothers who own the Mister Pete when they purchased their first boat.
The combination of Neiford and the brothers Rusty and Bob McClam is producing what is quickly becoming a tradition of tournament success. In many ways, the course of Captain Alan Neiford’s career is best reflected in the growth of the team that he leads.
“I had my captain’s license for about three years while learning to fish while mating. Friends from a charter introduced me to Bob and Rusty, who had just bought a 52-foot Buddy Davis. My friend put in a good word for me. We met and they hired me the next week,” Neiford recalls. “I told them, ‘I’ve never run one of these boats before, but I’ll treat it as if it were mine.’ They said, ‘We’ll give it a shot for a year.’”
That was more six years ago.
“We’ve all grown together. All of the success is based on the team. We all get along well. If something needs to change, we change it together,” Captain Alan says. “I get a lot of support from the guys on the boat. They let me run the program as I see fit.”
Under Captain Alan’s guidance, the team has grown from a newly formed group to setting the all-time record for points in the South Carolina Governor’s Cup.
A memorable moment was when the team finished second in the series – behind 2017 Captain of the Year and then SC Governor’s Cup record holder, Captain Chucky Moore. The Mister Pete is owned by brothers Rusty and Bob McClam. The boat’s name is a tribute to their late father, who was known to everyone as Mister Pete. Joining the McClam brothers are anglers Chad Andrews, Terry Caulder, and South Carolina State Senator Chip Campsen.
“We don’t fish tournaments with anybody else,” says Neiford. The cockpit is under the direction of first mate (and Governor’s Cup Mate of the Year) George Campsen and Jay Rhode. Mate Emerson Read filled in for a couple of tournaments as well. Just how did 2018 transpire for Neiford and the team on Mister Pete?
“We broke the Governor’s Cup record. We won three of the five tournaments. During the last tournament, Edisto, we went four for five on sails on the last day and caught a blue marlin to win the tournament in the last hour… that’s what put us ahead of Chucky. Before Edisto, we were neck and neck with the Sportin’ Life. We were 200-points, or one fish, ahead of second place – everything came together for us in Edisto,” Neiford recalls.
“In the first two tournaments, we fished mainly bait and switch spreads. Half of our fish came on the pitch, the other half came on the lures when fish faded off the teasers. When we’re blue marlin fishing, we pull a four-lure spread.”
“The South Carolina Governor’s Cup is amazing. They really do a good job. They are all very passionate and Amy (Amy Dukes, the tournament coordinator) is great,” Neiford says.