FishingBooker’s Top Captain Stories of 2019
Jan 16, 2020 | 7 minute read Comments
Reading Time: 7 minutes

We read fishing reports and reviews on a daily basis here at FishingBooker. Informative and often inspiring, they showcase the wealth of experience and hard graft that go into making fishing trips a success. 

But some of them really stand out. This post is a collection of our top picks from the past year. We’re very proud to work with captains like these – people who go out of their way to improve other people’s lives, as part of their day to day job. 

Here are their stories.

Captain James – Going the Extra Mile

Man holding fish aboard a boat with a Gone Coastal Charters decal

Back in April, we got a call from a lady whose trip had been canceled with one day’s notice, with the captain citing personal issues. 

She let us know that this trip had been booked on behalf of the charity Lickin’ Leukemia, for a young boy diagnosed with this disease. Having only experienced lake fishing before, he was very much looking forward to going on an ocean fishing trip. The prospect of not being able to go was devastating.

Time was of the essence, and we searched for an alternative trip with all hands on deck. The young boy’s carer let us know how finding the right date is particularly tricky for her, with him being in and out of chemotherapy and having the strength and timing on his side to manage the trip at all. 

Finally, we were lucky enough to get in touch with Captain James Gavin from Gone Coastal Charters. After reaching out to several people in the area, he got back to us saying that this was something he felt very passionate about. Not only did he agree to run the trip at short notice, he also wanted to do it at a very discounted rate.

It’s fair to say his efforts were extremely gratefully received. As well as going out of his way to provide an experience at such short notice, he helped a very good cause and gave a young boy an experience he’ll probably never forget.

Captain Daniel – Saving the Life of a Lifesaver

Man and woman practicing cpr on a dummy
When the theory pays off (stock photo)

Here’s a story that slightly breaks the mold of this article. Why? Because it actually took place in 2018. But when we heard about it earlier this year, it hit home.

Captain Dan from Best Catch Fishing Charters was out spearfishing with another captain in October 2018, when one of the people he was with had trouble in the water. Using CPR, he saved the life of this man, who is a first responder himself. As Captain Dan reported:

“Rescuing this hero with CPR I performed for some 20+ minutes truly brought awareness to me about the importance of CPR and First Aid training for any boat owner/captain who is heading offshore.”

He highlighted the fact that when you’re offshore, first responders can’t always get there quickly enough to administer first aid. It brought home how keeping on top of these procedures is absolutely essential, so when you’re in a scary situation such as this one you’re able to potentially save a life.

Captain Dan underlined the importance of renewing CPR and First Aid training on a regular basis. You never know when you might need it, especially if you’re out on the water! 

Brandon – Combining Conservation with Monster Fishing

Group of anglers in the water with a big sturgeon

Part of the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society, Brandon Wootton from Mainlanders Sport Fishing combines his trips for the legendary White Sturgeon with conservation. This year, not only has he put his guests on monsters like the one in the photo above, he also contributed to tagging and tracking these ancient fish. This is an example of how recreational fishing can increase scientific knowledge and local awareness of these amazing creatures.

This has been a huge hit with his customers.

After one trip, customer Mark wrote: “The care and conservation aspect of Brandon’s respect for the river and the fish shone out – Brandon is really a field scientist as well as an excellent fishing guide and he shared so much knowledge of the fishery I was enthralled.” Meanwhile, Emily said that “being part of the conservation for the Sturgeons was one of my favorite parts [of the trip]!” 

Awareness about conservation is constantly increasing, and these customers’ reviews show how combining an environmental stance with a fishing trip can make the experience more sustainable – and more rewarding.

Captain Jon – Ocean Cleanup

Man drives Hooked Sportfishing boat away from dock

Few people in the fishing community will willingly sit by while illegal fishing techniques take their toll on the marine ecosystem. But it takes commitment to jump into the water and rescue struggling animals. In the middle of a fishing charter. Twice. That’s why Michael M’s review of Hooked Sport Fishing made us sit up and pay attention. 

In his words:

“Captain Jon, who is a true conservationist, did don snorkeling gear TWICE, and rescue sea turtles in distress. One caught up in a huge piece of sea trash, the other, hooked on an illegal long line.”

Hooked Sportfishing’s reviews regularly praise the crew’s friendliness and ability to put customers on big fish. But this isn’t the only one that mentions conservation, too. In a world where it’s all too easy to look the other way, it’s inspiring to see such a respect for the ocean!

Captain Randy – Pioneering Local Sportfishing

Three men holding a swordfish and a queen snapper.

This spring, Captain Randy Rode and the North Coast Sportfishing team went on a mission. Setting out from the north coast of the Dominican Republic, they wanted to cement this destination as a go-to place for Swordfishing.

You could say that the Dominican Republic’s north coast is one of sportfishing’s best kept secrets. But Captain Randy is doing what he can to get that secret out. How? Daytime Swordfishing. 

Here’s his report:

“On March 15th, 2019, after fishing only 1 1/2 days, 3 miles off the coast of the Rio San Juan, the Vamos Fishing team of Capt. Randy Rode and Steve Spagnuola boated the first verifiable daytime Swordfish taken on rod and reel, on the entire North Coast of the Dominican Republic!”

Never mind the Swordfish, did you see that Queen Snapper? It’s about as big as the Billfish! Thanks, Randy, for showing us that there’s even more to the Dominican Republic’s amazing fishing than we first thought!

Captain James – Winning Cobia

Two men with a cobia, holding a sign saying 74.05 Bay Roamer

Did you know that Cobias could grow to almost the size of a human? Captain James Seed from Bay Roamer Charters can show you that they can! 

His team caught this whopper out of Virginia on the opening day of Cobia season. Lucky for them, this happened to be during the Cobia East Coast Championship. With tough conditions of clouds and thunderstorms for most of the morning, they didn’t have long to fish. But they made the most of it and landed this huge 74 pounder that won them the tournament!

Captain Stan – Trout Success

Four men holding a trout trophy

Captain Stan Sloan has earned a name for himself as a tournament winner. But he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. In September, he placed 1st for Heaviest Trout in the 2019 Matagorda Guides Cup!

As well as placing in tournaments, Captain Stan has gone out of his way for his customers this year. Back in March, a customer we referred to him left his phone on the boat. Stan took the trouble to find out where the customer was staying and return the phone at 10 at night. As customer Ben put it, “That’s committed to customer service!”

Captain Manuel – Tournament Wins for All

Four happy women with two big tunas in a large wheelbarrow

Jackpot Sportfishing caught our eye twice last year, on two of their different boats. Back in February, they took part in the first ever all ladies tournament here at the Marina Pez Vela in Costa Rica.

Despite being the underdog with the smallest boat in the fleet, the 31’ Good Day took home the honors for the biggest Tuna of the weekend. But it wasn’t all about the Tuna:

“Over the weekend we released 8 Sailfish & caught 3 nice Tuna. Marbely & Cathy Gilmour in our team caught their first ever Billfish, well done girls! Stella Humphreys, Iby & Marbely caught their first ever Tuna, Marbely’s fight being an epic 45 minute battle on a light spinning rod!”

While this event was all about the ladies, Jackpot Sportfishing didn’t do badly when their tournament crew was all male, either. They proved this in March, when they competed in two tournaments in one weekend. 

Taking home the Dorado and Tuna Jackpots on both day one and day two of the Quepos Billfish Cup, they put their good luck down to their lucky fishing shirts… but we think there might be something more to it than that! 

These are just a handful of the inspiring and moving reviews and reports we come across daily from the FishingBooker community. With impressive feats of sportfishing and frequent reports of simple and pure humanity, we’re honored to take part in this story.

It’s times like this that you remember: fishing is about far more than catching!

What was your top story of 2019? Do you have any 2020 resolutions that will impact your fishing charters? Let us know!

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Comments (2)
  • Robert E Ballou Jr

    Feb 12, 2020


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    • Reply icon


      Feb 12, 2020

      That’s great to hear, Capt. Bobby, it’s a pleasure to be working with you!

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