From the publisher: The Miami Boat Show is going on this week, and our friend and associate Ohero Proffessional Greg Poland is down there with the people from Plantation Boat Mart. With the Rally next week at the NMFS headquarters, we've been a week behind (excuse; I am personally ALWAYS behind -- ask anybody) and I haven't had much chance to talk with Greg, although an hour on the phone with Captain Mark Schmidt from Key West is going to produce what I think is a really good story about a very, very cool fisherman. I was looking through articles we had written about these men who make a living guiding in the best -- and toughest -- arena in the world if you want to get into the fight. Experiencing something like being at this tournament makes me know in my heart that that Rally we're having next week at NMFS headquarters in downtown Saint Pete is the right thing for all of us to be attending. This moment me and Ohero Proffessional Capt David Rieumont shared that afternoon in the Keys is worth dying for. Not "to-die for"; but worth dying for.
Thanks to Greg Poland and the incredible people he's been bringing into our lives. We hope helping put you there -- with these silly stories -- shares a little bit of it with you. And watch this week for an article about Captain Mark Schmidt, and stories of writing a list of the world records he and his clients were going to attempt to beat. And did more times than most of you have had birthdays :)
Kite fishing isn't something that comes into play so much here on the Gulf Coast -- although a few captains are known to fly them kingfishing (as we intend to this year). The Keys is the land of kiting for sails, though, and this kite's one with special meaning. Captain Alex Adler -- winner of this year's Gold Cup Sailfish tournament -- is pointing to the "Congratulations" signatures from other captains who fished the game that day. This is high-stakes fishing, and is done by high-stake players. That's Poland in the rear right, my partner Captain Dave Rieumont, Gold Cup winner Captain Alex Adler, and his First Mate Gunner Guthrey. Gunner is one of the Keys' top mates; an art all its own. You don't show up one day and fish with guys like Adler, Poland, Bellinger, Schmidt, or Rieumont. They're in no way elitists, either; they're the most down-to-earth guys you could imagine. But they take their sport -- our sport -- more seriously then anybody you've ever met. Ever. Rieumont right there with these legends, and every bit as passionate and good at what he does.
TheOnlineFisherman is about fishing -- a lot of it about fishing in Florida. As a daily fishing magazine, we encounter every aspect of our sport (and increasingly, with our political involvment to protect our rights to fish, the commercial side as well). A good percentage of the people we deal with are professional guides. Some of them rank in the top of the record books (Captain Mark Schmidt), and some of them have played the tournament circuits like you can't imagine. With Greg Poland, things like the Dale Brown Permit (Fly) tournament come as second nature (his house? Loaded with trophies. Some he has to read to remember the tournament that won it for him. I'm not kidding, either).
But last week, me and David Rieumont saw the big-boy world of tournaments, when Captain Alex Adler -- one of Greg's content team in the Florida Keys -- took the Gold Cup Sailfish Tournament.
We're talking the big leagues here. David jokingly said "I thought I had retired as a cop, and enjoyed a good charter business. I'm a sissy guide to you guys." While not meant in any way to be sexist or demeaning to woman -- because there are woman (anybody know Emily from the Gulf Council?) who could outfish any guy we know -- but the men on these boats who won this incredible high-dollar challenge are of a rare breed. Especially the captain of Kalex, a guy by the name of Alex Adler.
David and I were there to meet with Greg Poland, Captain Matt Bellinger, Captain Mark Schmidt, and Alex . Alex is a character (like every one of these guys!), and we were told to be there when they got in on the day before the tournament. They had clients on the boat, and we were warned that he got in, cleaned up, and got ready for the next day. The day of the Gold Cup. We were there both nights. Being with a crowd of people the likes of the men on that dock (we were at one of the best marinas in the best fishing spot in the world, by the way).
Left to right; Captain Greg Poland's A-team from the Florida Keys. On the left is Captain David Rieumont, who with partner Gary Poyssick (on the right with the bent mind and bent ankle) built TheOnlineFisherman.com from a blank piece of digital paper that said "Article Goes Here" less than a year ago. Next from the left is world-record holder dozens of times-over Captain Mark Schmidt; Greg Poland, who says he loves fighting fish more than he did fighting crime with the FBI; Captain (Cappy) Alex Adler, whose win in this years Gold Cup is one in a list longer than he is tall(?), and with Poyssick hanging onto him "Radio Clown" (his words, not mine) Matt Bellinger. Together, this is an A-Team of content providers the likes of no others. Count on us all to keep you informed, educated, and hopefully (and most importantly) entertained.
There were more stories that afternoon and evening than could be written in a week. Here's something for starters: When me and David saw first-mate Gunner locking the bait wells, we asked if that was really necessary (Captain Alex -- "Cappy" as many of his friends called him) paid special attention to every bait, putting each one carefully in one of two pens. Pelicans watched carefully, as he picked and chose their meal for the night -- anything weak and not ready to be chased by huge kingfish and the sailfish they would be targetting the next morning. The boat was a masterpiece of offshore fishing machine. Every line tight, every rod positioned, every inch as safe as an offshore tournament boat can be.
The night they won the Gold Cup, me and David watched as Alex turned to the stern, and backed that boat into that slip like it was something he had done once or twice before. Both David and me -- experienced both -- watched in awe as this guy (in twenty knot winds) slipped that craft into a space not well suited to hold it.
Clockwise from upper left; winners in the world of high-stakes Sailfish "gaming". Joe Flynn, Anthony Delducca, the guy they call "Cappy" (winning Captain Alex Adler), Josh Artiss, Jim Verner, and Clearwater-born "Gunner" Guthrey.
David's no stranger to tournament wins; neither are many of the people that help us day-in-and-day-out providing such excellent content to TheOnlineFisherman.com. But being with these people the day they won the Gold Cup Sailfish Tournament in the Florida Keys was something we'll never forget. Outrageous is a word that comes to mind. The colors, the smell, the sound, the community feel of this "bubba network" of the finest fishermen in the world took my breath away.
When David calls his and Greg's Key's team the "A" team, he ain't kidding. The Internet -- and networking -- is an amazing thing. The growth and birth, and now connection between the Keys and Poland and his team -- is remarkable, and never could have happened pre-web.
Being around these guys -- and knowing that this is only the beginning -- ensures us of some excellent content coming from the world of professional -- and high-end amateur -- tournament fishing. In the Sportfishing Capital of the World -- The Florida Keys, with Greg Poland, his team of pros, and TheOnlineFisherman.com.
From the publisher: There are a lot of stories we left in the Keys that need to be written. An example is the place David and I stayed -- by the name of La Jolla Resort. On the Bay side of Islamorada, the place has the same feel it had to have fifty years ago. As clean as a place you'll pay five times the price for, with history and -- like most of the world in the Keys -- family-owned and operated, the place is sure to prove an absolute outrageous gathering place for us to plan a Keys fishing adventure. Doing just that is something I've been talking to owner Tony about (I'm doing a history of the hotel as soon as we have the time to talk).
The prices are -- for the Keys or anywhere, for that matter -- very reasonable, the rooms range from small apartments to efficiencies, and we could put ten boats behind the place if we were willing to squeeze. The waters directly behind the place are why they call the place "The Fishing Capital of the World".