This book is divided in seven chapters. Chapter One describes commercial handline King Mackerel fishing,
Fort Pierce, Florida, and the adjacent fishing grounds.
The real heart and soul of this book, Chapters Two through Six, is a compilation of lengthy interviews with five of Florida’s great senior commercial handline Kingfish captains. These interviews, subsequently took on a life of their own and evolved into five extraordinary biographies. Each captain lived his dream. While I have edited some of their stories to allow the book to flow and read more smoothly, the rich texture of their narratives remains. They herald lives well lived. Conducting these interviews was pure pleasure. All of their stories are captivating, compelling, and different.
In the final chapter I share some of my experiences from nearly thirty years as a commercial Kingfish captain. This book is oral history, biography, fishing tales, war stories, tragedy, adventure, and fun. It can not and should not be confined to any one description. It is my hope that it introduces the reader to a wonderful way of life that is fast receding from the Florida landscape. It is also my hope that the reader derives as much pleasure from reading these stories, as I did from telling them.
Much has happened in the years since I began this project. The most tragic events were the losses of Roger Farlow and Tommy McHale, two of the captains interviewed for this book. Not only were they fishing legends in this area, they were good people and are greatly missed by their families and friends.
In 2001 there were two commercial fish houses still operating in Fort Pierce, Florida; Hudgins Seafood, and Inlet Fishery. Then in 2002 Hudgins Seafood, which had
had fish houses in South Florida for over 50 years closed its last waterfront fish house. Now only Inlet Fishery remains.
Inlet Fishery, destroyed after Hurricanes
Frances and Jeanne
Inlet Fishery’s fish house in 2006, rebuilt after the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005… view from the water with Kingfish boats moored at the left.
During my many runs before, while training for, and even during the New York marathons, I entertained thoughts of writing a book about commercial King Mackerel fishing.
Because I am such a slow runner, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about such a book.
So while trudging through the 26.2 miles of streets in New York City in 1997 I decided that if I can run this marathon, then I can write a book. It took several more years to get started. Finally in 2001, I set out to tell the story of handline commercial Kingfish captains from
Fort Pierce, Florida.
In 2004, Fort Pierce suffered two direct hits by major level four hurricanes, Frances and Jeanne.
These hurricanes completely destroyed Inlet Fishery’s docks and buildings. Glenn Black, the founder and owner of Inlet Fishery, and a life-long commercial fisherman himself, rebuilt the business within months.
However, his health had not been good. The loss and subsequent rebuilding of his fish house was hard on Glenn.
At age 71, he died in August of 2005. He lived long enough to see his Inlet Fishery back in operation.
In 1996 and 1997 I ran and finished the New York City Marathon.
Those marathons were two of the greatest experiences of my adult life.
They taught me that you don’t have to be a super athlete to finish a marathon.
You just have to be hardheaded. I also learned that anyone can do anything that they set out to do. I am a public school teacher and a commercial handline. King Mackerel fisherman. I’ve done both for well over a quarter century.
A FIFTY POUND WAHOO CAUGHT BY
THE AUTHOR IN 2003
This book is oral history, biography, fishing tales,
war stories, tradgedy, adventure and fun. I can not and should not be confined to any one description.
It is my hope that it introduces the reader to a wonderful way of life that is rapidly diminishing from the Florida landscape.
It is also my hope that the reader derives as much pleasure from reading these stories, as I did from telling them.
Photo taken by the author, east of Fort Pierce, Florida, the Sunrise City
"The chance to win is the big reason why King Mackerel fishing is the greatest job in the world"