IT'S ALL ABOUT FISHING & FRIENDSHIPS
The year was 1991 and the place, Rum Cay in the Bahamas. Boca Raton angler, Greg Talbott, was fishing alone aboard his 32-foot Blackfin, Island Girl. "I often fished alone as not many people would venture out with me into some of the places I'd heard about and wanted to fish. On that day in June, there were 8-foot seas on the southeast platform 11 miles off Sumner Point at about 10 a.m. on the moon high tide," Talbott describes.
Once he hit the platform, Talbott encountered about 150 frigate birds and acres of tuna. "Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang - four bites, all at once and all blue marlin," he says. "It was a bit of a cluster, but I managed two hours later to catch two of the four fish and one 100-pound yellowfin tuna. One of the two blue marlin was tail wrapped and unfortunately died. However, I went into Sumner Point Marina and with one 250 pound blue marlin and a 100-pound yellowfin I became a very popular guy. I gave it all away and enjoyed the show watching all these people carving up both fish.
Yes, great catches are important to Talbott. But, that's not the only thing that drives him to spend 90 to 100 days a year traveling around the world to fish. "I'd have to say my greatest fishing accomplishment over the years is the people I meet and fish with - not so much the fish I catch. Its not only the anglers and boat owners I meet, but the crews that really do the lion's share of the work that allows us anglers and our guests to do things in the fishing world that most people would only read about, hear about, or see on television."
Talbott, a real estate developer who concentrates on mixed-use retail office and condominium projects throughout Florida and the Carolinas, started fishing as a young boy. "My family moved to Florida from Indianapolis when I was very young," he says. "We bought a home in The Cove section of Deerfield Beach. It was the first house in the development. We could stand on our roof and see nothing but pine trees for miles. A year later, they dug the canal system around our house, so we had a waterfront home. I used to fish in the canals of Deerfield, Boca, and Lighthouse point as a kid, battling alligators that would sun on the canal banks before they put in the sea walls."
Tommy Greene, Scott Hitch, and others were among Talbott's fishing friends. Back in the 1950's and 1960's and early 1970's, South Florida was teeming with fish, so we had a great time," he recalls.
Talbott turned his fishing passion into a boyhood profession. "When I was able to buy a bicycle, I got a job at Hillsboro Bait & Tackle. I made my spending money working there and taking people snook and tarpon fishing in areas I knew were good. This gave me the opportunity to get on larger boats to fish offshore as a mate, guide and to just be out on the water learning more about what I loved."
Today, Talbott's two favorite species to catch are at opposite spectrums of the sport. "Billfish are my favorite fish to catch, with bonefish a very close second," he says.
Billfish, especially blue marlin, offer that explosive bite. Instantly, you're in a great competitive fight with fish against man. You wait, you wait, you see the eye contact in many situations, then "bang", the bite and the fight is on. It's your skills against the most aggressive fish in the ocean. There is simply nothing more exciting than that awaited anticipation of the bite. Sometimes you wait all day, sometimes several days and sometimes the bite comes while putting the lines out in the first few minutes of the day or while reeling in the lines in the last few minutes. Blue Marlin give you a great aggressive bite with tremendous power and strength for the sport fishing competition."
Talbott explains, "We own a home in the Abacos and I enjoy fishing our island flat for bonefish. I fish 4-pound test or fly-fish on the incoming tide and a falling mid-tide. It's very relaxing to wade the flat and see hundreds of bonefish feeding with tails flickering in the sunlight like diamonds. It's a great fish to hook and that first run is a thrill hard to beat."
Over the next year, Talbott's plans call for possible 5 to 7 day trips to destinations such as Madeira and Portugal, Panama, Costa Rica or Guatemala. Between these trips, he'll fish the fall in Venezuela, Isla Mujeres for sailfish in February, the Bahamas in late spring and the Bermuda Triangle Series - Harbour Island in the Bahamas in June, Bermuda with legendary captain Alan Card in July and the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (Boy Scout Tournament) in St. Thomas come August.
I used to fish the BBC (Bahamas Billfish Championship) but have come not to enjoy kill tournaments," Talbott says. "So, I stick with conservation minded tournaments and more importantly, like to fish with other boat owners and anglers that share similar philosophies of sport fishing. My favorite tournament is the "Boy Scout" in St. Thomas for many reasons," Talbott says. "It has sort of become The Super Bowl of Blue Marlin tag and release tournaments around the world. I really enjoy the anglers that fish it. It is truly an all-star line-up of first class boat owners, anglers, and crew."
Talbott adds, "In addition, I like the people involved in the organizational side of the tournament. People like Jimmy Loveland and Charley Tinsley, for instance, who make their life work supporting Boy Scouts and raising money to promote scouting in the USVI. They plan and coordinate events like the Boy Scout Tournament and Bermuda Triangle Series that take an entire year to help kids make correct choices and turn their lives around. They give them opportunities they would otherwise never have and dramatically change many lives for the greater good. That is simply awesome when you think of all they do, and it is our responsibility to help support those who support fishing and the industry."
To travel to many fishing destinations, Talbott takes the "On Line", a 61-foot Garlington, custom built and launched in March 2004 by himself and partner, Scott Adams. "She was designed for fishing but also lays out well as a family fun boat," says Talbott, about the "On Line". "We were the first 61 to design and build the Lanai cockpit giving us three levels including the cockpit sole. This allows great comfort for us during long tournaments and trips. It provides living room style couches and cockpit blowers for fresh cool air, as well as extra deep freezers, drink chillers, refrigerators and bait coolers."
He adds, "A great deal of time and design went into building this boat and I enjoy it most in a rough sea. We can back down and charge the fish by lightening our fuel load in the aft cockpit fuel tank. This allows the boat transom to raise up and keeps us on the fish without taking on too much water."
Captain Bill Gamper is at the helm of the "On Line". "Bill puts me on the fish, talks to me in the chair, talks to the wire man, and keeps his head the whole time," Talbott says.
With a captain like Bill who drives the fish, we are able to fish lighter tackle and enjoy the competitive nature of the sport without putting the fish in harms way. We like to minimize the danger of a tail wrap or breaking the line and killing the fish. It is our primary interest to combine great sport fishing with fisheries conservation and protection for the blue marlin."
He adds, "I prefer light tackle specifically 50-pound and 30-pound. In St. Thomas, we fish 50-pound on all gear including the pitch rods. The fish this time of year in St. Thomas generally range from 200 to 450 pounds with some exceptions. This size fish I feel is best suited for the 50-pound class."
Talbott's favorite method of blue marlin fishing in light tackle pitch bait style. "It allows the angler to really be involved in the entire process of the sport from start to finish. You must see the fish in the teasers, go to your rod, handle your bait, feed it to the fish, maybe criss-cross the cockpit several times, get the fish to eat, work your drag, hook the fish, get to the chair and bring the fish home. To me, there is nothing better!" he says.
Although he started fishing alone, today, Talbott says he enjoys fishing most with people who love to fish and truly enjoy the experience. "Blue Marlin fishing can be very very boring throughout the day, but that one bite will change everything so quick. It's not for everybody, but I enjoy fishing with those who love it and love to compete - man against the beast!"
Talbott has taken his daughter and two sons fishing and all three of his children have caught blue marlin. "They too are now 'hooked' and it looks like we will carry on a great family tradition and pass it down through generations."
In addition, he says well known anglers such as Bob DeGabrille, Davis Clapp, Luis Bacardi and Sonny Freeman, have made huge impacts on him. They are world class anglers and I learn from listening to them. We all exchange ideas, stories and experiences. From that, we've evolved into better anglers, but also have become friends."
Talbott says he sees the industry making great strides towards becoming much more recognized as a well-organized competitive group of people that have many interests in common.
With televised broadcasts and sports T.V. being the rage, sports fishing is becoming a much more recognized sport around the globe. A handful of us are trying to obtain major corporate sports sponsors to get behind the sport, televise it, and bring it into family homes all over the world. We as anglers, boat owners, and concerned advocates of the industry are seeing a much closer bond in the industry for the betterment of everyone. We fish hard, compete hard, and play hard, but we seem to have a more fraternal order to us than I've ever seen before," Talbott says.
He concludes, "This will work to help the industry and all the people that love the sport. It's no longer the wild wild west, as it used to be. It's becoming slowly more refined and with it comes intelligent people who want to preserve the fisheries and the industry for this generation and many more to come."
G. Talbott awarded BTS Hook July 9, 2005