By Barry Weshnak Miss Annie owner
When I was eight or nine years old my dad started taking me fishing off Long Branch pier in Long Branch, New Jersey for fluke during the summer and at night during the winter for ling and whiting. It was so cold that the nylon line would freeze between the water and the reel. We drank a lot of hot chocolate and enjoyed our fishing time together. In my teens, my future brother-in-law, Frank, me and a buddy of ours who had a wooden skiff with an outboard motor fished off Monmouth Beach for stripers. The love of saltwater fishing took root as a family affair.
Frank and I always had small boats with outboards, and we caught fluke, blues, sea bass, etc. inshore in N.J. He and I are still the best of friends and enjoy our fishing time together. When we were in our 30s, Jack Meyer who owned the original L&H, a 56’ Monterrey, invited us down to Singer Island, Florida to sailfish. That was the beginning of my fascination with sportfishing.
Thereafter, I took trips to sportfish in Baja catching striped marlin and to Tropic Star Lodge in Panama catching black and blue marlin,. There was a dream week in Quepos, Costa Rica with my son catching Pacific sails, rooster fish, etc. and a Bermuda trip with my family and team to catch blue marlin. I caught a spearfish and blue and white marlin in the Bahamas and swordfish off Ft. Lauderdale and Atlantic sails out of Singer Island to pretty much fill out my billfish card.
I had the honor and pleasure of fishing with some of the best captains back then, including Billy Black, Barry Dudas, Joe Drosey, Greg Bogdan, Big Al Fields and others. We caught sailfish in Florida, marlin, tuna, wahoo and mahi in the Bahamas and tried our hand at some big-time tournament fishing out of Ocean City, Maryland, Cape May, New Jersey and Marsh Harbor. From age 10, my son, Michael, and I spent many wonderful times fishing together in Costa Rica, Key Biscayne, Ocean City, Brielle, New Jersey, Singer Island and The Bahamas. Irreplaceable experiences together that he will share with his children soon.
It was time to buy my own sportfish, a 2005 52’ Viking Convertible, the Miss Annie. Once I bought the boat in 2006, I was very fortunate to put together a fishing team that remains together to this day. Randy Yates, Greg Bogdan, Mark Donahue, Frank Napurano and I have become a seagoing band of brothers. We established a tournament schedule that included the major sailfish tournaments in South Florida during the winter, each of which we have won at least once, the Bahamas in the spring.
This included the Bahamas Billfish Championship Series in which we won every leg at least once, and the over-all in 2010 and during the summer in Charleston, Cape May and Ocean City where we won the Tuna Tournament and finished in the money a number of times in the White Marlin Open and the Mid-Atlantic Tournaments. Over the 14 pre-Covid years, we finished in the money 45 times including “…the largest sailfish release prize ever…” in the Operation Sailfish Tournament and won 14 of these major tournaments. We haven’t gotten the golden ring in Maryland or Cape May yet, but we will be back reaching for it again this summer.
Best of luck and tight Lines.