"Nothing makes me feel as happy as when I’m fighting a blue marlin.” -14-year-old Tristan Lambert, grandson and son of, Jim Lambert, Sr. and Jr., aboard the 80-foot Merritt, Reel Tight.
Fishing is something that Hillsboro Beach Inlet, Florida-angler, Tristan Lambert, has enjoyed all of his life. In fact, it’s a sport that has been a part of his family’s recreational life for at least three generations.
“The first time I remember fishing is when I four years old,” Tristan recalls. “It was 2001 and I was with my Dad in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We were catching sailfish, dolphin and bonito. I loved catching those fish and my Dad was so happy when I did.”
Five years later, the then 9-year-old caught-and-released his first blue marlin while fishing with grandfather, Jim Lambert, Sr., on Lambert’s 80-foot Merritt, Reel Tight, off St. Thomas.
Tristan tells the fish tale: “I use to get seasick back then, so I took a Dramamine and went to sleep in the salon. I remember waking up in the dark salon and seeing the bright light of the cabin door open. Everyone was in motion in the cockpit. I was still groggy when they sat me in the fighting chair, tied me in, handed me the rod with the fish hooked, and started telling me what to do. I fought that fish for about 30 minutes. My arms almost went numb by the time I finally got the marlin up to the back of the boat and released it. My dad put me up on his shoulders so I could watch it swim away. He was insanely happy. My grandfather couldn’t stop smiling, but he was a little disappointed too. The crew estimated the fish weighed over 1000 pounds. My grandfather was happy for me, but he wished it was him because it was the fish he’d always hoped to catch.”
The fear of seasickness caused a hiatus in Tristan’s fishing for a few years.
Then recently, he says, “I realized my entire family had fished forever and I should re-think it and give it (sportfishing) another chance. So, I went out with my Dad in St. Thomas last summer. We had a great time. I won best junior angler in both the July Open and Boy Scout Tournament (USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament). Those were both such positive experiences, and it was such an incredible feeling to reel in those fish, that I can promise you I’ll be back to fish in both of them this year.”
One of Tristan’s most precious possessions is the hook necklace he was awarded in the July Open. The necklace was handcrafted by famed marine artist, David Wirth.
“I don’t go out of the house in the morning without three things: my phone, my shoes and that necklace,” Tristan says. “A friend told me to wear the hook facing my heart for good luck and that’s what I do. I’m superstitious.”
Tristan’s favorite marlin fishing technique is pitch-baiting.
“I like to see and feel the bite,” he says. “And, to see the fish lit up as it goes for the bait.”
This 6-foot tall teenager, with feet a size 12 shoe that barely fits on the fighting chair’s foot rest, also fishes straight legged for added leverage when reeling.
“I can get an extra half crank that way and get the fish in faster,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll alternate between straight leg and letting the fish slide me. That gives me more maneuverability when fighting.”
One of Tristan’s best fishing days occurred last December.
“We went sail-fishing in the north Boca inlet, right off from where the water tower looks like a martini glass, with just our two mates, Fly and Jose,” Tristan tells. “My two friends, Megan and Destiny, love to fish and this trip gave them the opportunity to. We ended up catching 19 out of 21 sailfish, on kites and flat lines, and one of them was Megan’s first sailfish. That’s pretty incredible because we were only out for a half day. The bite was pretty consistent. As soon as one fish came off, you had to be on your toes for the next.”
When he’s not fishing, Tristan enjoys running the family’s boats.
“My Dad taught me how to drive the 54 Bertram when I was 7,” he says. “I remember there was a way he could drive the boat remotely without standing at the helm. I’d get mad when I realized it was him driving rather than me.”
In later years, Tristan continues, “Capt. Eddie (Herbert) taught me how to dock and pull out on the 80-footer. My Dad wanted to make sure I knew how to do it and he was surprised by how fast I learned.”
Tristan got his chance to skipper the 80-footer, Reel Tight, last year when Capt. Herbert and one of the mates were on vacation. “The tide was too low to put our 42-foot center console in the water. So, my Dad asked me to go out with him so he didn’t have to run the 80. I remember it was my first time backing down on a sailfish when my sister’s friend had one on the line.”
In his 14 years, Tristan has caught and released more than a dozen blue marlin and angled in destinations such as Florida, Mexico, the Bahamas and St. Thomas. This is all while attending school; he graduates from 8th grade in June, and playing baseball, a sport his Dad coaches.
“When I grow up and after I finish college I know I want to live on the water,” Tristan says. “I never want to ever stop fishing.”