For more than thirty years, Bill Buckland's Fisherman's Center in Riviera Beach, Florida, has been the go-to place for custom fishing rods, new and pre-owned tackle, bait and just about anything a sports fisherman needs to catch big fish and lots of them. That doesn't mean that Buckland never gets out of the office. In fact, he's traveled to fish in many places and has lots of fun fish tales to tell as a result.
Growing up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Buckland says, "We fished the New River, jetties and beaches for snook and tarpon. It wasn't until I moved to Jupiter that I was introduced to sailfishing. I had just moved here and was invited to go sailfishing off Palm Beach. It was on this first trip that we caught eight sails and I was hooked."
While he enjoys catching all species of fish whether it's inshore, bottom fish or pelagic species, Buckland says, "Once I started catching blue marlin that was the ultimate because of their sheer strength and beauty."
Buckland first started blue marlin fishing in the Bahamas and St. Thomas back in the early 1990's. In St. Thomas, he fished with Joe Motta on his Rybovich, Lil Liz. Early on he also fished regularly in Venezuela with captains Paul Ivey, Bubba Carter and Jimmy Grant. Other destination's Buckland has fished includes Mexico and Costa Rica.
"At the present time, one of my favorite places to fish is Guatemala," he says. "That's because of the number of bites, mostly sails, and averaging at least a blue marlin bite a day."
One of Buckland's most memorable fishing days happened off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, with Capt. Gary Stuve. He caught 44 bluefin tuna all in the 200 to 400 range, during one afternoon of fishing.
Other unforgettable fishing trips include the time he caught 18 billfish in one day, including a slam, off Venezuela, and one day in 2009 in the Los Suenos Tournament where he caught 9 striped marlin and a blue in one day.
Buckland enjoys fishing in tournaments, although he does concede that works gets in the way of fishing more competitively. Events he regularly fishes in include some of the Palm Beach sailfish tournaments and the Masters Sailfish Tournament in Mexico. He's fished the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin or 'Boy Scout' Tournament a couple of times, including last year with Capt. Alan Fields on the Rude Awakening.
"My main fishing focus these days are fishing and diving with my 15-year-old of son," says Buckland. "We frequently take trips to the Bahamas targeting billfish and pelagic species. I really enjoy taking kids and introducing them to sport fishing. Getting young people started and interested in the sport is very important to me."
A charter member of the Billfish Foundation, Buckland is keen on conservation. "I really see a difference circle hooks have made in just a short time. In the last five years I've seen an increase in the stock of billfish, particularly sailfish. In the last few years here in Palm Beach we have had record numbers of catches in tournaments, particularly this past winter."
On the horizon, Buckland sees a few clouds on the horizon for sports fishing.
"One of the problems I foresee in the future is too many government regulations regarding closures of areas to fishing, particularly in Florida," he says, "with very little scientific data to back it up."
Hopefully, this can be positively remedied so all can enjoy the sport of fishing in the future.