By Charlie Levine
On September 13, 2016, Capt. Kyle Peet left Ocean City headed for the grounds aboard his 54-foot Taylor Made, No Quarter. Aboard were Peet, his mate Erik Mateer and a group of anglers from Xtratuf boots. Peet had his sights on a piece of water 85 miles offshore for an overnighter.
“I wanted to try for a grand slam,” he says. “That’s all I wanted to catch. I’d never caught a grand slam here.”
The bite was on. In the first five minutes of trolling, the No Quarter hooked a triple header of white marlin. Packs of fish mobbed the spread. As soon as they put new baits back, the fish bit.
“It was one of the coolest experiences ever. It was like fishing in Costa Rica, but it was right here in my back yard. I was marking 20 at a time,” Kyle said. By lunchtime, they had released 12 whites. Then they got a blind bite that turned out to be a 200-pound blue. Peet hammered the throttles in reverse to get the release. A few
minutes after that release, they turned loose a sail. Kyle had his grand slam… and a lot more time to fish.
Late in the day the boys hooked another billfish, thinking it might be a blue. As they got the fish to the boat, it turned out to be a longbill spearfish. Their fourth billfish species on the day. They now had a super slam!
They trolled till dark, releasing more whites. The next move was an obvious one—put out the swordfish gear and hope for the fabled fantasy slam. While grilling steaks, the swordfish rod went off. What happened next was an epic, 7-hour battle. “It was absolutely the most mental experience of my life,” Kyle says. “Driving around all night in the dark fighting this fish.”
The sword came up the surface and sounded again. It was no slouch. The battle continued until finally they got the fish close and the boys sank the gaffs. Just as Kyle was yelling to the crew to not let go, he saw a big mako make its move. The shark took a bite out of the sword’s tail, but they were able to haul the fish in. Oh, and they caught the mako, too. The end result was the first fantasy slam ever caught in US waters.
As the sun was coming up, acres of cutting marlin showed up on the surface, balling bait. Peet and crew couldn’t leave that action behind. They caught another 12 whites by noon before finally calling it quits. The final tally for the trip: 23 white marlin, two longbill spearfish, one blue marlin, one sail, a 345-pound sword and a 247-pound mako.
The young captain had certainly made his mark. Now 32 years old, Peet began fishing offshore with his father Mike when he was ten years old. They mostly charter fished, going offshore just about every week. It didn’t take long for the young angler to enter the charter ranks. At 15 he started working as a second mate. The next summer he did it again.
“I probably fished 120 days a summer for two summers in a row. It was the school of hard knocks for me. I just tried to learn everything I could,” he says.
Kyle graduated from high school in 2005 and went to work full time on a charter boat. He also tried his hand at commercial fishing, doing a two-month stint on a longliner. Peet saved up and bought a 23-foot Regulator, fishing weekends and working in the family business during the week.
“One day my dad came out with me and we got caught in storm,” Peet says.
This experience lead to the decision that it was time for a larger boat. They were still chartering a lot and it made sense to put that money toward a boat of their own. In 2010, after looking at 30 boats, they settled on a 54-foot TaylorMade. Not just any 54 Taylor-Made, but a boat that was previously the Tijereta, having spent six years fishing Venezuela with the legendary Bubba Carter behind the wheel.
“We knew she was a fishy rig,” Peet says. “But she was in rough shape.”
The father and son team began refitting the boat—a process that they’ve plugged away at for the past eight years. The only original thing left is the planking and some of the bottom.
The Peets repowered with Cat C18s, put in a mezzanine, updated the interior, installed new electronics, running gear—you name it. They renamed the boat No Quarter, and decided to charter when not fishing tournaments.
Capt. Butch Davis and Jon Meade, who were fishing on Cerveza and winning a ton of tournaments, fished with the Peets on No Quarter that first summer. Kyle worked the cockpit with John, getting an education in bait rigging and running the pit.
The next summer Kyle shadowed Butch on the bridge.
“I fished with Butch for close to three years,” Peet says. “What I’ve learned and how I apply it was 100 percent through him. He didn’t have to teach me, but he did.”
In 2013, Kyle took over as captain. He had the honor of catching the first white marlin of the year out of Ocean City. Then he won first place in the first tournament he fished, netting the team $330,000. He became the youngest captain to ever win the Ocean City Tuna Tournament. In the following years, the No Quarter has topped the leaderboard in the Ocean City Marlin Club’s annual tally several times.
In 2017. they were named top charter boat and released the most billfish overall, beating out Capt. Jon Duffie on Billfisher, who had dominated for a decade. “It was cool. No one caught 100 that year. Fishing was slow and I was persistent,” Kyle says.
In September, you typically get ten bites or so out of Ocean City, but in 2017 you were lucky if you caught one fish a day. “I kept going and going. It taught me lot of patience. I fished 90 days to catch 80 fish. That’s what it took to beat him.”
The local Ocean City boats are competitive with each other. In 2018, Peet had an active battle with Capt. Gary Stamm, one of his mentors. “We had one of best fishing experiences of my life for the whole month of September,” Kyle says.
The two boats, docked right behind one another, were in the top two spots all month.
“We talked about it every night, where we were going, what we were doing. It was a gentlemanly thing.”
It went down to the wire, and Stamm ended up beating Kyle by two fish. Kyle caught 149 billfish over his 92-day season. Going into the 2020 season, the Peets are phasing No Quarter out of the charter fleet but Kyle still has his eye on the prize.
“I spend hours studying the water,” he says. “I grew up playing ice hockey and they teach you that you don’t want to be where the puck is, you want to be where the puck is going. You want to be ahead of the fish.”
You can bet that when the bite turns on, No Quarter will be on them.
Do you have any comments or questions for us? We’d love to hear from you.
CAPTAIN SHANE O’BRIEN
43 Merritt, Kona, Hawaii
Wild Hooker: 68 Blackwell
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Owner: Allen Stuart
By Charlie Levine
Multigenerational fishing families run deep in Kona, Hawaii. The Big Island breeds good fishermen because the well-worn skills are handed down from captain to son (or daughter). Once inherited, fishing ability is modified, improved upon – rinsed and repeated. Thirty-year-old Captain Shane O’Brien is definitely part of that tradition.
Shane’s father, Fran O’Brien is one of the best wiremen in the business. He’s pulled on more granders than any other person in Kona. When Capt. Bart Miller had the notorious 1,656-blue marlin on, Fran jumped over from Bobby Brown’s No Problem and wired the fish. His fishing acumen runs deep, and he has passed it down to Shane. While the two O’Briens never fished together much professionally, the elder captain opened many doors for his son.
“My dad introduced me to everyone and made it easy to get in the fishing business here,” Shane says. “He gave me every contact in the world.” At 12-years-old, Shane scored his first fishing job as a mate on a small charter outfit, making a whopping $20 a day. “I would’ve done it for free,” Shane says. “On the first day we caught a 465-pound marlin and I got to gaff it. Th at was the first fl yer I ever threw. He probably gave me a little more freedom than he should have, but I’m glad he did. It worked out.” Shane never looked back.
The next captain to take Shane under his wing was Kerwin Masunaga, a commercial captain and just about the fishiest guy you could meet (Masunaga was named InTheBite Hawaii Division Captain of the Year in 2017 and 2018). Together they’d target tuna, wahoo and a lot of bottom fish from Masunaga’s 34-footer. They’d run two- to four-day trips down to the southside of the island. It was a quick education for Shane in a range of fishing types, as well as boat handling and tackle prep.
When he turned 16, Shane started crewing one of the better charter boats, Foxy Lady, with Capt. Boyd Decoito during the summer. When he was 17, he got his first big tournament win. Th e boat took home $112,000. Th at win changed everything. Not only did he put some money in his pocket, he got to win with Allen Stuart – the man who would ultimately hire Shane to fish tournaments in Cabo and the Gulf Coast.
“When you win a big tournament like that, especially at 17… I was just high on life,” Shane says. Later that year Shane fished the Bisbee with Allen on the 61-foot C-Ya. They caught a couple small fish and didn’t place in the money but it was the same year that the crew on Bad Company won $3.9 million. “It was exciting to be around that kind of money,” Shane says. And seeing that crew accept that big check put an image in Shane’s mind of what he wanted to achieve as a captain. He didn’t wait long and got his captain’s license when he turned 18.
In 2007, Stuart bought the Five Star, a beautiful 1979, 43-foot Merritt stationed in Kona and named it the Strong Persuader. Aussie captain Craig Denham ran it and Shane worked under him and would fill in when Denham was gone. Before long, Shane was running the boat full time. “I’d decided I wanted to be a captain after I met my boss and knew there was longevity with him,” Shane says. “So many guys blaze in, fish one or two years and get out. With Allen, as far as fishing goes, he truly enjoys it.
He’s not doing it for the glory, or fame. He has a good time and has traveled the world.” For the first few years running the boat in Kona, Shane would fish with Allen three to four weeks straight in June and July. “We’d go hard,” he says. “We’d be the first to leave and come back after everybody was in. We’d stay out on the grounds overnight to get more fishing time in.” Their drive paid off. Shane and Allen won the second tournament they fished that year, the Skins, and took home $130,000. “As a brand new captain, it was exciting. It gave me a lot of drive,” Shane says. The operation expanded. Allen added the Wild Hooker, a 61-foot Blackwell stationed in Cabo and a second Wild Hooker, a 68 Blackwell to fish the Gulf of Mexico tournament circuit. They were soon fishing 10 to 14 events each year.
They’d start pre-fishing the Gulf in April and May to get ready for the tournaments in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle. When those tournaments were done, they’d park the boat, fly to Hawaii
and fish four or five more events including the World Cup. Then it was back to the Gulf for late July. Sometimes they’d add in some Texas tournaments. Then off to Baja for the Bisbee’s and Los Cabos. That’s a lot of water and a lot of different styles of fishing.
“Live-baiting is pretty familiar to me, growing up in Hawaii,” Shane says. “The biggest difference is navigating the Gulf. We’d run 300 miles one way to fish these rigs in the middle of the Gulf. Then we’d go back to Hawaii where you might put the lures in one mile offshore. You’re always adapting but it’s the same core principles. Current, water temperature and structure and the basic ingredients for blue marlin. Then you put a few twists on it by networking with local boats.” Fishing in the Gulf can be excellent, but it’s a lot of effort and a lot of fuel. Shane says it wasn’t uncommon for them to burn 3,400 gallons a trip.
Like any good captain, a large portion of Shane’s responsibility takes place below the waterline. Fixing systems, updating electronics and when you have an old Merritt, a lot of varnish work. Being from Hawaii, where there is not an abundance of tradesmen around, you have to learn how to care for your boats yourself. That’s something he learned from his father – and the many other top captains in Kona. “All of the guys out here
are so good, and almost all of them helped me,” he says. “They’re always open with information, always answering questions. A lot of the captains here feel like my uncles.”
Shane’s boss just sold the 61 Blackwell and moved the 68 down to Cabo so the operation is purely Pacific now, but he’s still fishing the Gulf on friends’ boats. It’s hard to resist the opportunity to add some more trophies and dollar signs to the $2.7 million he’s already been a part of in his young career.
A young captain with an impressive tournament resume, Shane O’Brien is a name to remember.