What’s the best color lure to catch a billfish? David Workman, Jr., avid angler, owner of Strike-Zone tackle store in Jacksonville, Florida, and lure maker, jokes, “I think fishermen should carry all the colors!” More seriously, Workman favors combination purple-black lures for catching marlin.
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Workman started fishing at age six. He’d head offshore with his father on a small center console fishing boat where the two would angle for big tarpon and lots of them.
It didn’t take long for him to become a professional in the field of fishing.
“I started making my own rods at age 13,” he says. “This grew out of repairing my own rods and then fixing the rods of friends and other folks.”
By age 19, Workman was also making his own lures.
He attended junior college in Jacksonville, and then turned his rod and lure making skills into a business that today boasts a second location in Melbourne, Florida, and has expanded to hunting and kayaking equipment.
“I caught my first marlin in 1984,” he says. “I was off Key West fishing with Capt. Randy Ringhaver when I caught and released the few hundred pound marlin. I remember catching it on a yellow and black lure.”
Workman ventured to the Bahamas in the 1980’s, specifically the Abacos, where he enjoyed fishing with friends. He first came to St. Thomas in 1987, at the request of USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin or ‘Boy Scout Tournament’ director, Jimmy Loveland, to observe.
“I observed for 8 to 10 years,” says Workman. “Then, I got back into billfishing three years ago and fished last year’s Boy Scout Tournament with Ed Burr on his 66’ Spencer, Ohana. I also fish with Ed in some of the sailfish tournaments.”
In between bill fishing, Workman cast off on the professional king mackerel circuit in 1992.
“It was a growing sport and I make products conductive to fishing for this species,” he says.
The kingfish tournaments, some 23 between April and November, took Workman from Louisiana to North Carolina. He really excelled at this part-work, part-play endeavor. In fact, he was the Southern Kingfish Association’s Angler of the Year in 1994, 1995 and 1999.
What does his like about angling for kingfish and blue marlin?
“They are both hurry up and wait types of fishing,” he says. “And, I enjoy the challenge in both. For kingfish it’s the biggest by weight. For marlin, it’s a numbers game.”
Workman’s best fishing day was when he caught three 50-plus pound kingfish and literally caught them all on video while he was shooting his ‘Kingfishing Secrets’ DVD on the Gulf of Mexico.
“I couldn’t have planned that day any better,” he says.
St. Thomas was the site for Workman’s most memorable fishing day.
“I took my father to St. Thomas and he caught his first blue marlin on his 50th birthday,” he says. “That was on the Special K with Capt. Skeet Warner.”
Today, Workman owns a 32-foot Yellowfin center console that he uses for fun and tournament fishing. He also enjoys a full tournament schedule. He fishes both the El Pescado Billfish Tournament out of St. Augustine and the Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament in North Carolina for sailfish. This year, he’s looking forward to fishing in Guatemala and Panama for sailfish and marlin.
“I enjoy sail fishing with light tackle, light drag and small reels,” he says.
Workman will also compete in eight pro circuit tournaments put on by the Southern Kingfish Association.
“What I like best about fishing is the camaraderie with friends,” he says, “and the unknown. You never know what’s going to happen out there.”