As told to Ric Burnley
Capt. Mike Brady is one of the most well-respected captains to come out of the Stuart, Florida area. Here’s his story.
“Growing up in Stuart, my parents had a 23 SeaCraft called Sea Spray. We fished all the small boat tournaments. By the time I was 12 years old I was down at the docks all the time and it wasn’t long before I was riding along with the charter guys learning how to fish; at 14, I was fishing tournaments in the Bahamas. When I was in high school I worked summers on the Vicar with Benny Ship and then after that I went to Hatteras to work on the Good Times and Renegade out of Hatteras Harbor. In 1998, Chip Shafer asked me to work on Temptress. We fished 250 days a year out of Oregon Inlet, Ft. Pierce and Mexico.
I worked for Chip for five years before I got my captain’s license. I bounced around on different boats until Viking hired me to run their demo boats. We fished from Cape May to south Florida, the Bahamas, Venezuela and beyond. After four years working for Viking, Cruiser Crews asked me to run Cowpoke.
One of my first and most valuable lessons is to always be professional. I learned early on that whooping it up all night before a fishing trip doesn’t work. Make sure you have a clear head and that everything is ready so you can make the most of every opportunity. For me, the thing that separates a good captain from a great captain is experience. Days on the water add up. Working 250 days a year for Chip, I was out there every day, seeing it every day. Anyone can talk to people and read magazines but the guys who fish a lot will rise above everyone else. There’s no substitute for experience.
The year I won Captain of the Year I was working for Viking. I couldn’t have done it without the support of Pat Healey. The boat was perfect. We never cut corners, ever. We had the best of everything and we made the most of every opportunity. We did not fish conservatively.
Since I won Captain of the Year, the tournament scene has gotten even bigger. Used to be I knew everyone, now there are so many people that I haven’t met. One of my most memorable days on the water is when we scored a triple grand slam off Venezuela: we released three blues, three whites and eight sails. That’s tough to beat.
When I’m not fishing offshore, I like targeting big snook around Stuart with my son. Offshore fishing is more luck and inshore is more skill. Offshore, we’re all doing the same thing in the same area and sometimes getting a bite is just luck. Inshore, you’ve got to consider tides, moon phase, time of year and types of bait; it can be very tricky.
In my career, I’ve been extremely fortunate. I’d have to thank Chip Schafer for giving me so much experience and Viking for the opportunity to win Captain of the Year. And I couldn’t do it without great mates and anglers. And, of course, Cruiser for keeping me employed doing the thing I love!