January 15, 2013 at 3:28 pm #16589
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InTheBite Captain of the Year award recognizes excellence among the world’s professional sportfishing captains. Those unfamiliar with the job see only the bright spots–exotic destinations, big shiny boats, the adrenaline rush of a hot teaser bite–but those who’ve put in their time at the helm understand that it’s not all Mai Tais and Yahtzee out here. Being a true professional demands a tremendous amount of both dedication and commitment. There’s always some sacrifice too, especially when it comes to a family.
So what does it take to be InTheBite’s Captain of the Year? The first step is to earn a nomination. Captains are nominated based on their tournament performance during the season (although we have been exploring ways to nominate captains who do not tournament fish). In the next few pages, you’ll meet the nominees for 2012: Jason Buck, Keith Greenberg, Mark Lamb, Scott Leon and Rob Moore. Captain of the Year is not a popularity contest: the nominees are voted upon by the past Captains of the Year, with the general public casting a tie-breaking vote only if necessary. The award is based on the merits of the individual, and that’s why InTheBite’s Captain of the Year has become the industry’s most prestigious award for the professional captain.
Capt. Scott Leon
Sandman, Spencer 63
Home Port: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Owner: Sandra MacMillan
Mates: Robby Waddick, Wes Stevens
This year marks the second nomination that Capt. Scott Leon’s received for Captain of the Year honors. Looking back on his successes in 2012 at the helm of the Sandman, it’s not hard to see why: The team tallied first place finishes at the Buccaneer Cup and Florida Fish for Life, a second in the K-Rock Klassic and third at the Silver Sailfish Derby. They won the Cat Cay Invitational Wahoo Tournament and the Key West leg of the Sailfish Pro Series. But the icing on the cake was a victory in the World Sailfish Championship in Key West, along with a check for just under $317,000. The big win was the second in a row for Sandman owner Sandra MacMillan and also the second for Leon, who ran the Rock Star to a World Sailfish victory in 2008. Leon said the key to their success in Key West was the time they spent pre-fishing, concentrating on casting to tailing sailfish and encountering what he called some of the best fishing of his life.
Big tournament wins are important but the real key to a Captain of the Year nomination is consistency. With the string of first place wins this season, the Sandman team left no room for doubt as to why their captain should be nominated for this award.
Capt. Rob Moore
Fa-La-Me, Viking 70
Home Port: Jupiter, FL
Owners: Frank and MaryEllen Rodriguez
Mates: Taylor Beckford, Tyler Beckford, Jon Meade
Capt. Rob Moore had an absolute dream season with the Fa-La-Me team in 2012, winning both the Bahamas Billfish Championship and Bermuda Triple Crown titles in the same season (and also becoming the first team to do so). They had the hot hand wherever they decided to wet a line, from up north in the Nantucket Bluefin Blast in Massachusetts (second place finish, largest bluefin of the tournament at 289 pounds) to down in south Florida (third in the Finest Kind Quickie and tied for third at Pirate’s Cove).
Moore, who celebrates his tenth anniversary at the helm of the Fa-La-Me in March, was quick to attribute the team’s success to a supportive owner and outstanding mates. Frank lets us adapt and doesn’t try to micromanage the crew,
Moore says. He has confidence in me to do my job and in turn I have confidence in my mates to do theirs. We have a saying on the boat that, ’It takes a village [to be successful].’ We’re all very grateful to be this fortunate, doing what we love to do.
Moore also praised his hardworking crew of Taylor and Tyler Beckford and Jon Meade, who he says made the team look better than they probably should have on more than a couple of occasions, just as good mates will always find a way to do.
So what does 2013 hold for Capt. Rob Moore and the Fa-La-Me? Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Bermuda, St. Thomas and the southern Caribbean are all on the travel schedule, so don’t be surprised to see them at the top of the leaderboard in any tournament in which they choose to participate. Success breeds success. This is Rob’s first nomination for Captain of the Year.
Capt. Jason Buck
Done Deal, Viking 56
Home Port: Houma, LA
Owner: Jon Gonsoulin
First Mate: Lance Hightower
Second Mates/Crew: Wilks Hammock, Travis Dorland, Trevor Lott and Parker Stevens
Jason Buck put together an incredible season in the Gulf of Mexico aboard Jon Gonsoulin’s 56-foot Viking, Done Deal. First place release team at the Mobile Big Game Club Memorial Day tournament with five blues released. Second place blue marlin in Biloxi, 561 pounds. Second place release team in New Orleans. First place blue marlin at the Emerald Coast Classic at 783 pounds. Second place release team at the Pensacola White Marlin. Winner of the Gulf of Mexico Triple Crown Series. The list goes on and on.
Buck credits the strength of the team as well as having a very competitive owner in Jon Gonsoulin to the team’s successes this year. Jon is willing to go farther or fish harder than anyone else if that’s what it takes, but he’s also realistic in our expectations.
Buck reports. And a lot of credit should go to our mate Lance Hightower, who is the best fisherman I’ve ever worked with. He’s always got a positive, upbeat attitude and has ways of turning long, slow days into productive ones for us.
He also points out the difficulties they face every day in the Gulf of Mexico blue marlin fishery. The Gulf is a tough place to do well,
he says. We’re not coming home and getting a good night’s sleep in a nice marina. We spend days offshore, in all kinds of weather, basically fishing non-stop the entire time. The ones that are successful put in the time and the effort, which is what we’ve done. And that’s a credit to our accomplishments both as a crew and as a team.
This is Jason’s first nomination as Captain of the Year.
Capt. Mark Lamb
Hard Way (Contender 32, owner: Mark Lamb)
Doing It All (Contender 32, owner: Daryl Deka)
Home Port: West Palm Beach, FL
Crew: Rick Burton, Joe Furrello and Alex Burgess
Following a transition from the freshwater tournament bass circuit to becoming a sailfish pro, Capt. Mark Lamb is another relative newcomer to the ranks of InTheBite Captain of the Year nominees. He too had a very successful season in 2012, becoming the first live-baiter to win the Jupiter Billfish Tournament since its inception some six years ago. Fishing with owner Daryl Deka on his 32-foot Contender, one of only eight center consoles in the 39-boat fleet in Jupiter, the Doing It All caught 39 sailfish on live bait for the win.
Confidence and momentum are two important aspects of tournament fishing, whether you’re chasing bucketmouths on Lake Okeechobee or saildogs off West Palm–after the big win, Lamb and Deka knew they had to fish as hard as they could in the coming weeks. It paid off handsomely in the form of a victory at the Sailfish Open, netting them just over $86,000 for a first place finish. Next up was the Jimmy Johnson Billfish Championship, held out of Johnson’s Big Chill restaurant complex in Key Largo. Hard Way again emerged victorious, besting the 26-boat fleet (including runner-up Ray Rosher on the Miss Britt) for the win. Lamb and Deka make up the nucleus of a highly competitive team that’s on the rise in South Florida. This is Mark’s first nomination as Captain of the Year.
Capt. Keith Greenberg
Krazy Salts, Viking 70
Home Port: Palm Beach, FL
Owner: David Anderson Sr.
Mates/Crew: Luke Hickey, Mark McDevitt, Kevin Paul
For the second season in a row, Capt. Keith Greenberg has been nominated as Captain of the Year. And it’s certainly not by accident: Greenberg and the Krazy Salts team once again racked up an impressive string of tournament victories stretching from the Bahamas (first place, Leg 3 of the Bahamas Billfish Championship at Marsh Harbour) to Cape May, New Jersey (first place in the Cape May Marlin and Tuna Club Ladies Tournament and high point boat in the Challenge Cup, an annual competition between the Ocean City Marlin Club and the Cape May Marlin and Tuna Club).
Now in his third year with Krazy Salts owners David Anderson Sr. and David Jr, Keith places a lot of emphasis on not just the competitiveness of the owners but the well-rounded talent of the team. I consider myself to be very fortunate to be around not only people who can afford to chase fish around the ocean but who are also very enjoyable to be around,
he says. We’ve got great owners with the Andersons and some great mates and anglers in the cockpit who we feel at least have a good chance to catch everything they see in the spread. I’m just the bus driver but we work well together as a team and it shows when we fish.
So if you see the Krazy Salts on the rip, you’re probably fishing in the right place.
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