The sport of fishing has forged a strong bond between father and son, Jose Valdes and Jose Valdes, Jr. “My father introduced me to fishing 25 years ago,” says Jose, Jr., who now owns his own boat, the Spencer 60, Mojito. “Everything I love about fishing is from what he showed me and taught me.”
Valdes’ sports fishing career started when he was a teenager. “My father took me out fishing for marlin off the north of Puerto Rico,” he says. “I started looking and learning all the steps immediately. It was a great way for my father and me to spend quality time together.”
It was aboard a friend’s boat that Valdes caught his first blue marlin. “It was a small one, about 150-pounds. We were right off El Moro Castle when I hooked up on 50-pound gear. We didn’t know until about 30 minutes into the fight that it was a blue marlin. Then, it surfaced and jumped. Half way through, one of the big ships coming into the harbor passed by and almost cut the line. It took an hour and a half to release the fish. I was beat at the end, but thrilled. I can still remember like it was yesterday.”
The first twenty years of Valdes’ angling career was spent fishing with his father aboard Sr.’s now famous Lady Lou.
“My most fun day of fishing came during the third day of Boy Scout Tournament (USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament, ABMT) in 2002. That’s when we released 7 blue marlin for 7 strikes. We finished the tournament with 12 releases. Lady Lou won Best Boat and I won Best Angler by making four of those releases.”
Valdes’ best day of fishing happened in Venezuela. “Twice, I caught 8 blue marlin in one day by myself.”
Lures are what Valdes fished with when angling with his father. “My favorite is a Bob Schneider lure, black and purple,” he says.
However in the past few years, he’s become fond of pitch baiting. “That’s one reason I wanted to get my own boat and my own crew,” says Valdes. “Pitch baiting is wonderfully fun, much more exciting.”
Valdes chose his Spencer 60, he explains, “Because I wanted a boat that would give a nice ride, a fast ride, and accommodate my family on weekend trips to the beach.”
His wife, Adrian, a bartender when the two met, suggested the name for the boat. “My father is Cuban, so the name was perfect,” Valdes says.
He adds, “For fishing, we have really long outriggers. They go out from the boat about 50-feet. I feel this gives us an advantage, an edge.”
Mojito’s crew – the husband-and-wife, captain-and-mate team of Juan ‘Tito’ Martinez and Aileen Maal – also offers Valdes a plus.
“It’s a pleasure to fish with them,” Valdes says. “They have a lot of years of experience between them and a lot of enthusiasm. It’s very exciting all the time.”
During his career, Valdes has fished in Puerto Rico, as well as the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama and Costa Rica, to name a few locales. In the future, he’d love to fish on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. However, his favorite spot to fish is the Virgin Islands’ North Drop. “There’s no other place in the world like the North Drop. There’s always that feeling of never knowing when the ‘big one’ will come up to the line.”
Last summer, Valdes took his 4-year-old son out fishing to the North Drop for two days. “It was really exciting to have the third generation out fishing. He had a great time and so did I.”
He also has a 7-year-old daughter who enjoys boating with the family.
Valdes fishes about 50 days a year – around a career as a residential developer in which he works with his father – much of them alone with his crew.
“I love to fish by myself, just with my crew, and do so about 90 percent of the time,” he says, “Last year, we caught 100 blue marlin in one year. That was a great accomplishment for us. I caught the 100th on October 21 on the North Drop.”
The ABMT or Boy Scout Tournament is one competition Valdes does fish. His also was one of five boats that competed in last year’s inaugural Spanish Main Series (SMS). This is a five tournament series that includes the ABMT, as well as tournaments in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Valdes got off to a great start in last year’s SMS by releasing four blue marlin to take the "Top Series" Angler" of Leg 1. His efforts won him the first issued black coral and gold coin created by the Bernard Passman Galleries.
“It’s true. The pressure is on this year to win again. But, it’s fun. We love it. The pressure can be exciting,” Valdes says.
In the future, he says, “There’s a great future in recreational fishing if we keep on track with conservation efforts, but there’s a lot more that still needs to be done.”