Sirius XM has been making waves in the offshore space for years, but the service is about to get a whole lot better: Fish Mapping. What is it and how does it get you dialed in faster? Check out siriusxm.com/fishmapping to see how it works and when it hits the docks.
The timing couldn’t be any better! As white marlin and blue marlin take up residence at the canyons off the mid-Atlantic coast, the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor is in the final stages of planning the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor Marlin Tournament. Hosted by Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey, this year marks the 53rd installment of this event making it one of the longest running billfish tournaments on the east coast. The Yacht Club of Stone Harbor has a rich history dating back to 1911 and this event is always popular with members, guests and tournament anglers alike each year. Various awards will be up for grabs including 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Boat, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Angler, Top Female Angler, Top Junior Angler (16 and under) as well as 1st and 2nd Heaviest Tuna and 1st and 2nd Heaviest Dolphin. 1st and 2nd Place Team Award will also be presented and teams will consist of up to four boats each that will be picked lottery-style at the Captain’s Meeting. The Warren Buckingham Memorial Trophy will be presented to the angler with the Most Outstanding Catch while the Walt Hendee Captain’s Award will be go to the 1st Place Boat captain.
As noted earlier the beautiful Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May will host the tournament and also serve as the event’s designated weigh station. Those needing dockage for the event should contact Paul Hoffman at 609-884-0199 to reserve a slip. The tournament gets underway on Thursday, July 25 with a Captain’s Meeting and Cocktail Party from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor located at 9001 Sunset Drive in Stone Harbor. Fishing days are Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27. Cocktails, music and dinner will be provided overlooking the infinity edge pool at Canyon Club Resort Marina after each fishing day. The Awards Banquet complete with cocktails, dinner and music is set for Sunday, July 28 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor.
All boats must sail and return through Cape May Inlet and may not pass the inlet’s sea buoy prior to 4 a.m. on each fishing day. Fishing hours are 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and daily catch reports with released billfish information as well as any tuna or dolphin to be weighed must be at Canyon Club Resort Marina by 9 p.m. on each fishing day. There is no limit to size of tackle, number of lines, teasers or anglers. There is no minimum weight for tuna or dolphin and all billfish including white marlin, blue marlin, sailfish and spearfish will earn 100 points per release. All point ties will be broken on time of catch. The 53rd Annual Marlin Tournament is a billfish release competition with all entrants considered good sportsmen and their fishing (catch) reports will be accepted in the sportsmanlike manner and honor in which the tournament is held.
Whether you’re new to big game tournament fishing or a seasoned veteran, the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor 53rd Annual Marlin Tournament is a great opportunity to connect with new friends or renew old ones. With a modest entry fee of $2000 which includes admission to all events for tournament participants, this family-oriented event is a low-keyed fun tournament you’re sure to enjoy. Come join us for a few days of friendly fishing competition, camaraderie, hospitality and fun!
For more information contact Jamie Diller at 609-827-0020 or Aaron Hoffman at 609-412-3778.
HAMILTON, Bermuda (July 19, 2019) – A fleet of 43 teams put on an exciting show at the weigh-ins during the Bermuda Big Game Classic from July 13 – 17, 2019. Three days of competitive tournament fishing produced high numbers of blue marlin qualifying catches, with seven fish brought to the scales surpassing 500 pounds. A total of 61 billfish were caught, including 55 blue and six white marlin.
After lines out on day three, Team Flyer totaled five blue marlin releases, scoring 2,500 points across three days of fishing to win the 2019 Bermuda Big Game Classic, with winnings totaling $122,700. Team Overproof also scored big, landing a 697-pound blue marlin on day three, winning the Day Three Largest Marlin and Winner-Take-All Largest Marlin jackpots for $129,900 in total winnings.
As the competition intensified each day, more and more 500-plus-pound blue marlin moved onto the fishing grounds. The scales at Barr’s Bay Park in Hamilton, Bermuda, were especially busy on day two of fishing. Day one recorded a 594-pound blue marlin (Auspicious); day two saw a 518-pounder (Sea Angel), 525-pounder (Sweetums), 550-pounder (Blank Check), and 616-pounder (American Beauty); and day three produced a 608-pounder (Hot Spot) and 697-pound blue marlin (Overproof). Blue marlin must weigh at least 500 pounds to be eligible for points at the Bermuda Big Game Classic.
Team Mjolnir, captained by Dave Harris, took control of the leaderboard on day one of the Bermuda Big Game Classic. The team released two blue marlin, for a total of 1,000 points, to earn the Day One Daily Billfish Release Jackpot based on time. Angler Jim Smith caught both blue marlin.
Teams Reel Steel, the winners of the 2019 Bermuda Billfish Blast, was close behind. Reel Steel, captained by Jason Parker, also released two blue marlin for a total of 1,000 points, but they caught their fish later in the day. Anglers Mike and Marc Verzaleno caught the two blues.
Angler Joe Rahman hooked a large blue marlin aboard his boat Auspicious, captained by Edward “Cookie” Murray, on day one of the Bermuda Big Game Classic. After he fought the fish to the boat, the team recognized they had a fish that was eligible to weigh. Back at the docks, their fish weighed 594 pounds, winning the Day One Largest Marlin Jackpot and putting them in the lead for the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot.
The top two release boats on day two were Flyer and Reel Captivating, with each team releasing two blue marlin for 1,000 points each. Reel Captivating, captained by Travis Ralph, utilized angler Wayne Jenkins to catch both fish. Flyer, captained by Bryce Garvey, won the Day Two Daily Billfish Release Jackpot based on time.
Four different teams caught a qualifying blue marlin on day two, including American Beauty, captained by Travis Rolan; Blank Check, captained by Danny Hearn; Sweetums, captained by James “Pete” Rae; and Sea Angel, captained by BC Angel. American Beauty’s Aaron Fenn caught a 616-pounder; Blank Check’sDan Doyle Sr. caught a 550-pounder, Sweetums’ Colton Resor caught a 525-pounder, and Sea Angel’s Austin Angel caught a 518-pounder. Team American Beauty’s fish won the Day Two Largest Marlin Jackpot and shot them into the lead for the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot.
After two days of fishing, Flyer and Reel Steel both had 1,500 points with three blue marlin releases. Close behind, American Beauty had 1,116 points, Blank Check totaled 1,050 points, and Sweetumsscored 1,025 points.
On the final day of the 2019 Bermuda Big Game Classic teams knew there were still plenty of large blue marlin patrolling the banks off Bermuda. They knew this because they had seen the big fish come into their spreads, even if the fish didn’t commit to their lures.
Four different teams scored 1,000 points on day three of fishing. Never Enough, captained by Albert Miller; Flyer; Hit N Run, captained by Dave Fields; and Big Deal, captained by Brian Rabbit, each released two blue marlin. Team Never Enough won the Day Three Daily Billfish Release Jackpot based on time.
Teams Hot Spot and Overproof, both local Bermuda teams, boated big blue marlin relatively early in the day. Each team decided to continue fishing for the rest of day three in search of more points. Back at the docks, Hot Spot, captained by Ricky Sousa Jr, weighed a 608-pound blue marlin. Andy Periera was the angler. Overproof’s blue marlin topped out at 697 pounds, caught by angler Jason Friedman. Overproof, captained by Peter Rans, won the Day Three Largest Marlin Jackpot and the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot. Last year, in 2018, Overproof caught a 930-pound blue marlin to win the Day Three Largest Marlin Jackpot and the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot.
FIRST PLACE TEAM
Team Flyer, captained by Bryce Garvey, scored 2,500 points to win First Place Team, Day Two Release Points Jackpot, First Place Overall Release Points Jackpot, the Marlin Magazine Manufacturers Cup for Merritt Boat & Engine Works, and an invitation to the Offshore World Championship. Mark Woodbury earned top angler for his 2,500 points. Total winnings were $122,700. Prizes and awards included VanMark custom winner pendants, YETI cooler, King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits, AFTCO gloves, Big T lure and Release Marine trophy. Team Flyer includes Captain Bryce Garvey, owners Kevin and Teresa Jaffe, Dylan Jaffe, Greg Axton, Gotzon Otxoa, Michael Tarmey, Mark Woodbury and Michael Overton.
OVERALL LARGEST MARLIN JACKPOT
Team Overproof, captained by Peter Rans, won the Day-Three Largest Marlin Jackpot and Winner-Take-All Largest Marlin Jackpot with their 697-pound blue marlin, caught by angler Jason Friedman. Total winnings were $129,900. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Overproof includes Captain Peter Rans, Leslie Rans, Leesa Friedman, Jason Friedman, Morgan Friedman, Brooks Rans, Martin Estes, Michael Batista and Morgan Outerbridge.
SECOND PLACE TEAM
Team Reel Steel, captained by Jason Parker, scored 2,000 points to win Second Place Team and Second Place Overall Release Points Jackpot. Total earnings were $54,960. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Reel Steel includes Captain Jason Parker, Mike Verzaleno, Marc Verzaleno, Kayla Verzaleno, Drake Cropper, Charles Coats and John Cantiveri.
THIRD PLACE TEAM
Team Waste Knot, captained by Mike Tickle, scored 1,700 points to win Third Place Team, Third Place Overall Release Points Jackpot and Top Junior Angler for Luke Fletcher. Total winnings were $32,340. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Waste Knot includes Captain Mike Tickle, Gary Fletcher, Rocky Hardison, Chase Pake, Luke Fletcher, and Thompson Brown.
DAY TWO LARGEST MARLIN JACKPOT
Team American Beauty, captained by Travis Rolan, scored a 616-pound blue marlin to win the Day Three Largest Marlin Jackpot, caught by Aaron Fenn. Total winnings include $24,600. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team American Beauty includes Captain Travis Rolan, Mike Posillico, Corey Hexter, Alan Davis, Roderick Haines, Kayla Milam, Jason Richard Peer and Daniel Strode.
DAY ONE LARGEST MARLIN JACKPOT
Team Auspicious, captained by Edward “Cookie” Murray, weighed a 594-pound blue marlin to win the Day One Largest Marlin Jackpot, caught by owner Joe Rahman. Total winnings include $24,600. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Auspicious includes Captain Edward “Cookie” Murray, John Copeland, Carl Copeland, David Soares, Kevin Stafford, Mark Brochu, John Given and Everett Petronio.
DAY ONE RELEASE POINTS JACKPOT
Team Mjolnir, captained by Dave Harris, won the Day One Release Points jackpot from two blue marlin catches by Jim Smith. Total winnings include $23,400. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Mjolnir includes Captain Dave Harris, owner and angler Jim Smith, Darrin Isaacs and Tim Smith.
DAY THREE BILLFISH RELEASE POINTS JACKPOT
Team Never Enough, captained by Albert Miller, won the Day Three Release Points jackpot from two blue marlin catches by Walter Shikany Jr. Total winnings include $23,400. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Never Enough includes Captain Albert Miller, owner and angler Walter Shikany Jr., Marc Hopper. Nick Favata, and Ian Poteat.
Angler Laura Russell, aboard Hit N Run, caught a 34-pound wahoo to win the largest gamefish. Total winnings were $6,450. Team Hit N Run includes Byron Russell, Laura Russell, Mike Walsh, Clark Beaty, Evan Jones, Stevie Ehrber, Barrett McMilliam and Greg Lulemon.
TOP LADY ANGLER
Elaine Jones, owner of Mama Who, won top lady angler with 1,000 points from two blue marlin releases. Team Mama Who includes Captain Wil Thornhill, Elaine Jones, Robert Davies, Charles Lewis, Joe West and Sales De La Bar.
More than 200 anglers competing on 38 teams experienced three days of record fishing, releasing 91 blue marlin, 17 white marlin and a spearfish.
HAMILTON, Bermuda (July 8, 2019) – An army of fishing talent experienced flat-calm conditions offshore Bermuda for the 2019 Bermuda Billfish Blast. A total of 248 anglers on 42 boats fished hard for three days, July 4-6, competing for marlin releases and coveted qualifying blue marlin to weigh in. Three days of fishing produced 38 blue marlin and 10 white marlin releases during the event, with most blues ranging in the 200- to 400-pound class. After lines out on day three, Team Reel Steel totaled two blue and two white marlin releases to win the 2019 Bermuda Billfish Blast.
As the competition intensified each day, no one team was able to pull away from the pack. In fact, no team that won a Daily Marlin Release Jackpot finished in the overall top three. The blue marlin bite increased each day but wasn’t as spectacular as 2018. Day one recorded 10 releases, day two saw 12 releases, and day three logged 16 blue marlin releases. Blue marlin releases were worth 500 points, garnering all the attention, while species such as white marlin and spearfish scored 200 points.
DAY ONE, JULY 4
Team Bree, captained by Kyle Liane, jumped out to an early lead on day one of the Bermuda Billfish Blast. The team released two blue marlin (1,000 points) by anglers Karl Minzenberg and Randy Ringhaver. The two blues were enough to win both levels of the Daily Marlin Release Jackpot and control the leaderboard.
Team Waste Knot, captained by Michael Tickle, was close behind with 700 points from one blue and one white marlin. Angler Scott Poole caught and released both fish. Teams Freyja, Legacy, Flyer, Big Deal, Blank Check, Reel Addiction and Auspicious all had great days too, recording one blue marlin release. The leaderboard was tight after day one.
DAY TWO, JULY 5
Team Stacked Up, captained by Snick Akers, got in on the action in a big way during day two. The newcomers to the Bermuda Triple Crown landed a blue marlin and white marlin for 700 points to win both levels of the Daily Marlin Release Jackpot. Angler Mike Engelman was in the chair for both fish. Team Reel Steel, captained by Jason Parker, was close behind, landing a blue marlin and a white marlin. Although Reel Steel and Stacked Up both caught the same number of fish, for the same amount of points, tournament rules dictate whichever team caught their fish earlier breaks the tiebreaker.
After two days of fishing, Bree held the lead with two blue marlin releases (1,000 points). Teams Flyer and Legacy also had two blue marlin releases (1,000 points). Team Stacked Up and Reel Steel were behind the top three places with 900 points each. Just one white marlin release was the difference between the top five teams after two days of fishing. Also, after two days of fishing, no team landed a marlin to weigh for the Largest Marlin jackpots.
DAY THREE, JULY 6
On day three, two teams that blanked the first two days stole the show.
Team Uno Mas, captained by Brooks Smith, landed two blue marlin and a white marlin for 1,200 points on day three. Anglers Jeremy Cabillo and Drew MacDowell each caught a blue, with MacDowell also releasing a white marlin. Uno Mas’ second blue marlin made the team think twice about boating the fish. A lengthy fight and oversize head had the blue marlin close to the 500-pound mark. For their three releases, Uno Mas won both levels of the Daily Marlin Release Jackpot. The points they scored on day three had them just 200 points behind the eventual winners
Team Sea Angel, captained by BC Angel, hooked one fish all tournament — but that fish was a game changer. On day three, angler Austin Angel came tight on a blue marlin and fought the fish for less than 2 hours. When they got the fish boat side, the team made the right call to gaff the fish and boat it. Back at the weigh-in docks, the fish weighed 509 pounds, just 9 pounds heavier than the 500-pound qualifying weight.
The Bermuda Billfish Blast offers optional winner-take-all Largest Marlin jackpots at two levels. The team that catches the largest blue marlin over 500 pounds wins the entire jackpot if they enter levels one and two. In the past, if the Largest Marlin Jackpot wasn’t won on July 4, the jackpot money was awarded to the top three boats in the Overall Billfish Release Jackpot. Tournament rules changed in 2019 allowing teams to weigh-in qualifying blue marlin on days two and three if no fish were weighed the prior day. For their catch on day three, Sea Angel won both levels of the winner-take-all Largest Marlin Jackpot.
Team Reel Steel, captained by Jason Parker, scored 1,400 points to win first-place team, totaling two blue marlin and two white marlin releases. The team of anglers consisted of Mike Verzaleno, Marc Verzaleno, Drake Cropper, Big Mike Verzaleno and Charles Coats. They also won the first-place Overall Release Points Jackpot. Total Winnings were $77,400 and an invitation to the 2020 Offshore World Championship. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Maui Jim sunglasses, VanMark Jewelry Designers marlin pendants, a Yeti cooler, Steve Goione prints, Release Marine custom trophy, Soundview Millwork trophies, Big-T lures and Bacardi spirits.
Team Sea Angel, captained by BC Angel, landed a 509-pound blue marlin to win both levels of the winner-take-all Largest Marlin Jackpot. The team of anglers consisted of Nolan Raunswinter, Randy Estes, Andrea Angel, Greg Angel, Austin Angel and Tyler Lindorf. Total Winnings were $100,800.
Team Waste Knot, captained by Michael Tickle, scored 1,200 points to win second-place team, totaling one white marlin and two blue marlin releases. The team also won second-place Overall Release Points Jackpot. Waste Knot anglers included Scott Poole, Ven Poole, Chelsea Poole, Scott Poole, Jr, Thompson Brown and Chase Dalce. Total winnings were $45,180. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures, Soundview Millworks trophies, Maui Jim sunglasses and Bacardi spirits.
Team Auspicious, captained by Edward “Cookie” Murray, scored 1,200 points to win the third-place team, totaling one white marlin and two blue marlin releases. The team also won third-place Overall Release Points Jackpot. Team Auspicious consisted of Kevin Stafford, David Soares, Carl Copeland, Joseph Rahman, Mark Brochu, John Copeland and John Given. Total winnings were $25,920. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures, Soundview Millworks trophies, Maui Jim sunglasses and Bacardi spirits.
Team Bree, captained by Kyle Liane, scored 1,000 points on day one from two blue marlin to win both levels of the Day One Marlin Release Jackpot. Team Bree consisted of Colin Murphy, Ian Fletcher, Randy Ringhaver, Royal Hendrix, Karl Minzenberg and Shelley Minzenberg. Total winnings were $33,600. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures, and Maui Jim sunglasses.
Team Stacked Up, captained by Snick Akers, scored 700 points on day two from one white marlin and one blue marlin to win both levels of the Day Two Marlin Release Jackpot. Team Stacked Up consisted of Scott Miller, James Nantz, John Seitzer, Mike Engelman, Heather Serriani, and Lisa Serirani. Total winnings were $33,600. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures, and Maui Jim sunglasses.
Team Uno Mas, captained by Brooks Smith, scored 1,200 points on day three from one white marlin and two blue marlin to win both levels of the Day Three Marlin Release Jackpot. Team Uno Mas consisted of Maria Smith, Sean Gallagher, Drew MacDowell, David Mothershed, Jeremy Cabillo and Jeremy Quinos. Total winnings were $33,600. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures, and Maui Jim sunglasses.
TOP ANGLER AND JUNIOR ANGLER
Angler Marc Verzaleno, of Team Reel Steel, scored 1,400 points to win the top junior and top angler of the 2019 Bermuda Billfish Blast. Verzaleno’s 1,400 points came from two blue marlin and two white marlin releases. His prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Soundview Millworks trophies, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures and Maui Jim sunglasses.
TOP LADY ANGLER
Angler Laura Russell, of Team Hit N Run, scored 1,000 points from two blue marlin, to win the top lady angler of the 2019 Bermuda Triple Crown. Other prizes included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Soundview Millworks trophies, VanMark Jewelry Designers earrings, Steve Goione print, Big T Lures and Bacardi Spirits.
The 2019 Bermuda Billfish Blast tournament, presented by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, culminated in a highly popular awards banquet dinner in the Harbourview Ballroom at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel. More than 350 people were in attendance. The tournament awarded $350,000, plus trophies and prizes. For more information, visit www.bermudatriplecrown.com.
As competitors headed offshore Monday for the start of the 61st annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, a final review of all entries confirmed 184 boats were entered and set to compete for a RECORD PURSE of $2,869,050. The previous Big Rock record — set last year — was $2,560,925.
By the end of the week, anglers racked up 156 releases: 83 blue marlin, 54 white marlin, 17 sailfish and two spearfish. A total of 14 blue marlin were boated and weighed, resulting in a 91% overall release rate. DOC FEES and crew scored the 61st release of the 61st Big Rock to win the tournament’s special $6,100 prize. Competitors battled for $284,750 in weekly release prize money and $282,625 in daily release prizes! The Dolphin Winner-Take-All category reached a record $361,250 payout after increasing the level to $2,500 earlier this year!
TOP DOG became “Top of the World” on Day 6 when it landed a record breaking 914-pound blue marlin to WIN the 61st Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament! TOP DOG captain Ryan Knapp of Ocean City, Md., and angler Todd Dickerson, fought their catch for more than five hours and then needed an additional 90 minutes to get the 15-foot fish partially into their 60-foot Buddy Cannady. Dickerson’s catch crushed the Big Rock’s previous record of 831 pounds set in 2000 by the SUMMERTIME BLUES. [Read more…]
Captain Ann Johnston is something of a legend on the Texas sportfishing landscape. As Capt. Kerry Fritz puts it, “Everybody knows Ann.” In 1971, Johnston was just the second woman ever to be commissioned captain in the State of Texas. Since that time Ann has run charters out of Freeport, Texas and fished the Texas tournament scene for more than four decades. She fished Poco Bueno every year from 1972 to 2017 – an incredible streak of some 45 years.
While her dedication and love for fishing speak for themselves, were you to have guessed, she would have been one of the least likely people around to become a renowned saltwater captain. Growing up in the Texas panhandle outside of Amarillo, Johnston was raised driving wheat trucks and combines. “The first time I came to Houston it was with a friend who had breast cancer. She went to MD Anderson Medical Center. My husband and his friend decided they wanted to go fishing in the Gulf, so I came along. I grew up catching catfish in Lake Texoma,” Johnston recalls.
The experience made a lasting impact and soon Ann and her husband, Doug, moved to the Gulf Coast with their boat in tow. “The boat was 32’ long. I tell everybody that I fell in love with the boat and then I fell in love with him. On January 4th, we’ll be married 50 years,” Johnston relates. Upon moving to the Gulf coast, both Ann and her husband obtained their captain’s licenses. “Admiral Welty commissioned me. He must have been 90 years old at the time. I was sure he would faint and fall on me before we were through,” Johnston says with a laugh.
As a charter boat on the upper coast of Texas, much of Jonhston’s business was directed toward red snapper and king fish, with species like cobia (ling if you speak Texan), grouper and dolphinfish mixed in. In most years, she’d run three or four marlin trips. “We commercial snapper fished for a long time. We sold our permits about 15 years ago,” Johnston recalls. “When we started out there were no electronics or GPS like there are now – just the old Lowrance units you had to stick your head into. Boats used to follow us around because they thought we had the snappers numbers… and we did. We got our first snapper numbers from the shrimpers. We’d bring them out food and things and they’d tell us where the snags were.”
In describing her career, Captain Ann Johnston expresses the characteristic humility known to folks from west Texas. While she might not say it, her career leaves a legacy that influenced many on the Texas coast. Captain Kerry Fritz runs the Sea Dog, a 60-foot Hatteras, out of Galveston. He grew up in Freeport and has known Johnston for years. “Did she tell you about the time she was pulled over by a wahoo? She was fighting a big wahoo and the gaff man missed it and she was pulled over. She went down about 100-feet before she got out of the rod harness.”
“There are not too many lady captains as salty as her. Through the years, she’d run five or six days per week. One year at Poco, she had what could have been the winning marlin sharked at the boat. They brought in just the head,” Fritz says. Another year, Johnston finished fourth at Poco Bueno, weighing a whole fish on that occasion. More than just a great captain, Johnston is known for her generosity. “She’d help anybody… She has shown a lot of people the ropes.”
Captain Ann’s generosity and caring nature is reflected in her customer base as well. “The oldest customer I have has been fishing with me for 30 years. We have a lot of them who have fished with us for 15 years,” Johnston says. “Being a lady captain was tough at first. I’d have to keep the guests from jumping off the boat because they weren’t used to fishing with a lady captain. But once they fish with me, they stayed with me. I take really good care of my people. I can usually tell who’s going to get sick and who won’t when they get on the boat. If someone looks like they will get sick, I’ll bring them up on the bridge to sit with me. If someone does get sick, I’ll take them down and wash their face with cold water and let them sleep in the master bedroom. We also help our customers with their fishing technique.”
While any captain who spends more than four decades on the water has seen a prank or two, Johnston’s relationship to dock pranks is unique. “For the first few years, they were always pranking me! We’ve always had to park in the shed, so we’d have to raise and lower the outriggers to get in and out. They’d always tell me something was sticking up or a rope was hanging off, just to see if I’d get mad,” Johnston recalls of her early years on the helm. Even now, after boat deliveries to Mexico and fishing more than most will ever do, Johnston still gets a bit of skepticism about her being a lady boat captain. “The number one thing, every day, someone always says, ‘Let’s see how she does putting the boat in the slip.’”
As for a fishing story? When asked about her best day on the water, Captain Ann’s response is telling. “Every day is a good day as far as you get to fish.” This sentiment is one shared by Captain Ann’s family as well. “We are just a family that loves to fish.” In addition to Ann and her husband each holding captain’s licenses, their son and two of their grand daughters also hold their tickets. “My son runs a 110’ yacht between Florida and New York. He doesn’t fish as much as he used to, but he really loves it,” she says.
The latest iteration of Ann’s Dream is a 54-foot Hatteras. Ann ran the previous edition, a 46-foot Hatteras, for 32 years. She has caught her share of fish, but one trip stands out. “One time we had a two-day marlin charter. The guys didn’t show up with any food, so before we left the dock, I had to get groceries,” she recalls. Once offshore, Johnston and crew trolled around one of Texas’ most productive rigs.
“We were circling the buoys around Cerveza and hooked a 219-pound and a 515-pound blue marlin and caught them both in about an hour. The first one (the 219-pounder) was gut hooked so we brought it onboard. The second one, the guy hollered so much that we brought it in, too. I really didn’t want to, but he said he wanted to get it mounted. He sent the head off to Pflueger but he didn’t pay for it. That’s how I got stuck with a marlin!”
June means summer. Summer means tournaments. Nothing says tournaments quite like InTheBite.
Grab a copy of the latest June Issue, hitting the docks now!