Charter boat captains aren’t like the rest of us — they have the guts to pursue their dreams; to turn their passion into their careers. They live their lives with the joy of doing what they really want to do; not what they have to do. That takes courage. These boat captains walked away from their traditional jobs: mortgage loan officer, college professor, and telephone PBX sales rep.
Being on the water is what drives them. They’re not content to sit in an air-conditioned cubicle in a downtown skyscraper; instead they find pleasure in introducing fishing to their customers.
Captain Shawn Warren (b. 1977) got his captain’s license in 2009 and has already established himself as capable fisherman, having won 40 tournaments. Impressive, but the attribute that impressed me is how devoted he is to spending time with his 7-year old son, Buck. I would surmise that Shawn learned to be a good dad from his dad, Dee, who is an oil and gas man with a ranch in the Texas hill country.
When not fishing, Capt. Shawn is a hunting guide in Kansas from October through December. He says that he seldom buys meat at the grocery and his cooking specialties include deer tenderloin, okra gumbo, and a traditional cajun jambalaya. When asked what his ultimate dream would be, Capt. Shawn said, “I’d like to buy a custom, 64-footer from Jarrett Bay Boatworks and travel to Bermuda to fish the blue marlin circuit.”
B-dock at the Galveston Yacht Basin is known as the party dock and that is home to Capt. “Doc” Brown’s Sea Wolf Fishing Team of Capt. Adam Kleczkowski and Caroline Cope.
Before getting into the fishing business, Capt. Adam worked on a Port of Houston fireboat. At 5’1”, Caroline is one of the few female deckhands in this sport, but she likes being a girl (even though she plans to buy a Harley-Davidson Iron 883 motorcycle).
Doc is a young-at-heart, 67-year-old, retired college professor who now owns three boats. This gregarious fisherman was born in Lafayette, La., and is very proud of his crew: Capt. Rick McGaffey, who is born on the island (BOI); Capt. Derek Billiot, their resident cajun; Capt. Russell Keillor, whose goal is to pilot oil tankers; and Brandon Conner, a violin-playing student at Texas A&M.
Doc and his seven crew members offered up some sage advice for anyone interested in chartering a fishing boat. First, and foremost, resist the temptation to tell the captain where to fish. In a similar vein be patient; don’t suggest moving to a new spot until you’ve given it some time. They all agree that little boys take direction better than their parents, and women are more patient than men.
So, what’s the #1 faux pas with these captains? Well, that would be the weekend warrior from Houston who shows up with his own tackle. Just remember, your captain wants you to catch fish and have fun. He is, after all, in the memory-making business.
Fishing 100 miles offshore ain’t easy. Just ask Capt. Shane Cantrell who fished 37 weeks last year. This left enough time for his hobbies of shortboard surfing and beach volleyball.
He started his career, in 2006, as a deckhand, and now he’s a captain. He has a keen interest in fishery outreach where he is a proponent of accountable and sustainable red snapper management methods. Capt. Shane is also a hunting guide on the island’s West End.
Capt. Chris Jamail has been at this for nineteen years and is a prideful fisherman. In fact, he has to remind himself not to get tense when the fishing is slow. He likes to catch the limit, but in the end he knows charter fishing is really entertainment, so he works hard to control the mood aboard the boat.
Chris likes fishing for tarpon because it’s all about the “struggle” with the fish. He talks about how good anglers know how to break the tarpon’s spirit. When trolling for tarpon he will often put out five rods and watch for schools of baitfish upon which Tarpon feed.
These fishermen are committed to sustainable fishing practices, but they warn that their industry is often hampered by counter-productive regulations and licensing imposed by state and federal governments. Specifically, they say that season lengths and vessel monitoring are problematic.
It is interesting to note that Galveston Bay and the entire Texas Gulf Coast is seeing an upswing in charter trips and yacht sales due to Houston’s booming oil and gas industry. Everyone wants sport fishing to continue to thrive but, they warn, they need the support of fellow outdoorsmen as well as the non-fishing citizens. So, if you and your family have yet to experience sport fishing, then give it a try. You may discover why these guys are so inspired to find fish.
PLAN YOUR TRIP:
Galveston Fish Commander
Capt. Shawn Warren (832-758-7044)
Fishing: East End, jetties, nearshore
28’ Robalo with twin 250-hp Yamahas
Sea Wolf Charter Fishing
Capt. Doc Brown (903-390-6652)
Fishing: Coastal, offshore
42’ Hatteras with 671-hp Detroit-Allison diesel
28’ Bertram with twin 350-hp Palmer Power
24’ Key Largo with 200-hp Yamaha
Capt. Chris Jamail (832-860-5577)
Fishing: Galveston Bay Complex, offshore
Galveston Sea Ventures
Capt. Shane Cantrell (512-639-9188)
Fishing: Marsh, jetties, offshore
36’ Contender, twin 350 hp Yamahas