South Florida is truly a world class fishing destination with a plethora of charter captains available who can get you hooked up with a wide variety of exciting fish. Any of these captains can create a memorable fishing excursion but only a very few can say they have been doing it successfully for almost 50 years. Captain Randolph “Bouncer” Smith is just such a captain. With a lifelong passion for fishing, a love for teaching and a desire to put a smile on his charter client’s face, he is one of the most accomplished captains in South Florida.
Captain Bouncer’s passion started early when his father and uncle introduced him to fishing in Michigan at the age of 5. He was immediately hooked and would fish off the dock if there was no room on the boat for him. In 1957 he moved to Miami and started fishing on his father’s co-worker’s boat, catching his first sailfish. It was at this point he says he was “gut hooked” on fishing. Industrious, at age 12 he began cleaning and filleting friends’ catch, securing a paid position a year later on Sunny Isles Pier. At 15 he worked on party boats nights, weekends and summers, then upon graduation from high school he went to work on a head-boat. Within months he was working on a charter boat during the day and a head-boat at night six days a week from 7 in the morning to 2 a.m. the next day. Then he drove to the Keys on his day off to fish their many bridges. He says “here we are 49 ½ years later and I still love every chance I get to go.”
Captain Bouncer’s enthusiasm is not restricted to just one type of fishing. With his Dusky 33 center console (a relationship he has had with the builder since 1979) docked at the Miami Beach Marina, the captain is right at the epicenter of fine fishing of all kinds in South Florida.
Bouncer explained “we have all of Biscayne Bay feeding the ocean so it’s really a prime location.” He went on to explain that tarpon stop in the waters off Government Cut enjoying the warm water, extending the fantastic tarpon fishing. Combined with exceptional sword fishing, sail fishing, reef fishing, a base of 6 million residents and countless tourists, Bouncer has found himself fishing prime waters.
Whether you are a novice or an experienced angler after a specific catch, Bouncer has proved he can get it done. He is happy to teach his charter clients the tricks of the trade, and strives not to hook fish for his customers. A majority of Bouncer’s clients are savvy anglers who want to go after a specific species, learn techniques or enjoy a certain style of fishing. Season permitting, on Bouncer’s Dusky 33, clients can enjoy offshore fishing for marlin, sailfish, swordfish (even on a fly), dorado and other pelagic species. They can also fish for tarpon and reef fish. A visit to Bouncer’s Facebook page illustrates the day-to-day variety of catches, including a Gold Coast Slam of sailfish, tarpon and mahi.
Captain Bouncer’s list of tournament wins and fishing accomplishments is a long one. Standouts include the John Rybovich Lifetime Achievement Award from the Billfish Foundation, being one of the first to be inducted into the International Game and Fish Association’s Legendary Captain And Crew and induction into the Miami International Boat Show’s Hall of Fame. He credits all of his accomplishments to great clients and crew. Bouncer is also recognized as being an extraordinary fishing conservation leader and innovator, credited with getting circle hooks adopted as mandatory in billfish tournaments; that later became a federal requirement. With his love of the ocean and its inhabitants, Bouncer has a keen sense of conservation and a charitable heart.
The captain has worked with charities for years, such as The Make A Wish Foundation, Fish to Make A Difference, Jeb Bush Fishing Classic, The Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and various veterans programs, by taking those in need of an escape from their illness, or battling back from physical issues for a day of fishing. He says it offers an escape from their day-to-day issues where patients and families alike can enjoy a day fishing without questions about ailments or problems. He says it is tremendously satisfying for him too. “It is really wonderful to watch the smiles that they reward you with. An awful lot of fun.”
Captain Bouncer Smith’s enthusiasm for fishing is as strong today as it was when he was fishing from the dock as a boy with baloney. It is contagious. A day on the water with this legendary angler can not only produce a nice catch but a big smile too.