When he's not studying at the University of Miami for his MBA, or enjoying a round of golf or scuba diving, Preston Dickerson is out sports fishing. "It's a great time that I enjoy with my family," he says.
Photo - Richard Gibson
Born in 1979 and a native of Miami, Florida, Preston got his start in fishing as a young boy. "My dad owned a 44-foot Striker. That was the original Free Enterprise. Our family would spend summers over in the Bahamas and we'd fish. In fact, I can still remember my first rod - a conventional spinning rod - that I got when I was four or five years old."
Throughout the school year, Preston would catch snapper off the dock by the family's house in Miami. Then when he as older, a Middle schooler, he became an avid shallow-water bone fisherman. "We'd head to the flats off Key Largo and Islamorada in a little 17-foot skiff. I liked flats fishing because it was easy to get to on the weekend, more accessible. But, since my dad had the big boat, and it traveled, I eventually started spending more time out with him."
It didn't take Preston long to become a billfish buff. "I caught my first blue marlin at age 13. We were over at Cat Island in the Bahamas. My sister got hers first that afternoon, then I got mine. Since then, nothing has compared to the action and excitement of blue marlin fishing. The aggressiveness of the fish and its size is unlike any other, unlike white marlin, black marlin and sailfish. None of them compete with blue marlin in my book."
When fishing for blues, Preston likes to use 80-pound test. "It allows me to put more pressure on the fish and catch them quickly. I don't like to wear them out. That's important, especially in St. Thomas, where the sharks can get them."
As for the choice between lures or bait, he prefers to fish with either. "One lure that's been successful for us over the past few years has been the Pink Floyd. It has a pink skirt."
Preston adds, "Catching marlin on teasers is exciting and something you can do with a great crew. A teaser bite is fantastic. Its right behind the boat. But, we teaser fish a little differently than most boats. We keep a hook in the water too, along with the teaser."
Through the years, Preston has fished in St. Thomas, Venezuela, Costa Rica and the Bahamas. "In a typical year, we'll head over to the Bahamas for 1 to 2 weeks during the first part of the summer. Then, the last few years we've fished St. Thomas over the August moon and competed in the Boy Scout Tournament. The best thing about this tournament is that it's got the best group of anglers and captains assembled of anywhere. Our boat, Free Enterprise, finished as Third Best Boat in 2003."
It was in St. Thomas, during a non tournament fishing day, that Preston found fame. "It was rough, and we'd been out fishing for awhile when I hooked up a 400-pound blue marlin. Richard 'Doc' Gibson snapped a picture of me releasing it and it was on the cover of Sports Fishing magazine. That was cool."
After the summer, Preston says, "We pretty much stay in Miami fishing for the winter for sailfish.
Even though blue marlin are Preston's favorite, sailfish have made for some fantastic fishing, he admits. "Fishing in Costa Rica, any day you catch 20 or more sailfish, is a great day. There's a ton of sailfish there. It makes for days that you don't forget."
Also etched in his memory is a trip to Australia that he and his father took seven years ago. "I caught a 100-pound juvenile black marlin on fly. That was a unique experience. We did that about seven years ago, me and my dad."
In the future, he says, "I'd like to fish Hawaii. See what that's like. Also in the Galapagos."
Through the years, Preston has enjoyed fishing with Capt. Randy Jendersee, who has run his father's Free Enterprise since 1983. "There's a funny story about how my dad and Randy met. At the time, my dad, who is retired from a career in industrial water treatment, was working and one of his sales people met Randy at a bar in Palm Beach while playing foosball. Randy mentioned looking for a boat and the sales guy said his boss was looking for a captain. My dad was just about to take delivery of our then new, Bertram 54. Well, the two met in a little barbecue place off Highway 1 and hit it off. Randy's been our full time captain from that day. He's really one of the family."
Today, the name Free Enterprise belongs to a custom-built 65-foot American. "We planned the boat inch by inch," Preston says. "It has four staterooms and three heads, which is a lot for a 65-footer. It was designed around the fact that we like to go places and anchor out. Be self-sufficient. Lots of storage. A big galley for big meals. Enormous fuel and fresh water tanks. There's also a grill in the cockpit so the mate or angler can cook while fishing. And, we also have a 16-foot Silver King flats boat on the bow."
What Preston likes best about fishing, he says, "is spending time with my family. My dad, my brother-in-law, Locke Maddock, and I enjoy fishing together."
Looking ahead to the sport of fishing, Preston says, "I'd like to see a stronger effort on tag and release and the end of kill tournaments."