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Angler Profile - May 2008


SF Freebie

By Carol Bareuther

Work and play are a family legacy in the Lewis family. Not only was Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based angler, Steve Lewis, introduced to the sport of fishing by his dad, his dad also started a company that son, Steve, captains today.

Born in Miami, Florida, Lewis moved to Ft. Lauderdale at age 5. "My dad would take me over to Naples and Ft. Myers with him, hire and guide and we'd go out in a little 25-footer and fish for snook and red fish. It was great fun. I guess you could say I got hooked on fishing early in life."

Lewis' interest turned to billfish as he got older. "I started going to the Ft. Lauderdale Billfish Tournament. I'd run the boats and bring friends along. They'd catch all these sailfish, and finally, I realized I was the one doing all the work while they had fun catching. So, I reversed that. I got my own captain and mate."

Today, Lewis fishes aboard his Viking 64, Freebie. "It's got a great cockpit with a lounge in the back where you can watch the baits. I really enjoy fishing from aboard my own boat. When you charter, you tend not to get 100 percent, like you do on your own boat."

Lewis' team includes Capt. George Beck and mates Chris Calloway and Vince Austin.

Billfish are what Lewis loves best.

"I caught my first billfish, a sailfish, when I was young," he says.

Sailfish, white marlin, and blue marlin - these are among Lewis favorite fish to catch and release.

"Its all because of the way they bite. Also, they jump so beautifully, their acrobatics are great," he says.

In a typical year, Lewis will start out fishing in South Florida as well as head to Costa Rica during the months of January, February and March. "Vince (Austin) runs the 40-foot Game Fisherman, Adios, over there. We'll go out for sailfish and marlin and maybe get something to eat like a dolphin too."

Then, it's to the Bahamas for the Bahamas Billfish Championships (BBC), a five tournament series that spans from April through to June.

One of Lewis' best fish stories comes from the BBC.

"We were out of Chub Cay, mid-day, and I hooked up a triple-header blue marlin. Boy, I'd pick up one rod, start to reel it in, then grab another rod. I was the only one that handled the rods and I didn't reel in when the rod was in the holder, so it was all IGFA-legal, but it was crazy. Luckily, they were small fish and all stayed on top. It took me a little over an hour to get them all in and released."

Still, Lewis says, "We didn't win the tournament. I'm still waiting to win the BBC. It's something I'd like to achieve."

Summertime brings Lewis and Freebie to the Virgin Islands. "We came down to St. Thomas for several years, then missed a few years when the bite didn't seem to be as strong. We were back last year. Now, the Virgin Islands' fishing is good and the Bahamas have slowed down for me."

Lewis didn't do as well as he would have liked during the 2007 USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin or Boy Scout Tournament, which saw a record 207 blue marlin released by anglers aboard the 37-boat fleet.

"We're North Drop lovers. We did go to Anegada one day where all the action seemed to be and caught a few, but otherwise we stayed on the Drop."

Lewis pulls out of the Virgin Islands in October and spends the months of November and December hunting on land.

As for fishing methods, he says, "I started teaser fishing three to four years ago. I like the way a fish teases up, when it comes out from under the boat and the action is right in front of you. We teaser fish in the Virgin Islands and Costa Rica. In the Bahamas, the fish really don't tease. One shot and they'll either take it or leave it alone. In the Virgin Islands, they keep coming back."

Preferred line test also varies with the locale.

"We fish with ballyhoo and lures mixed on 50- and 80-pound test in the Bahamas, all lures and 50-pound in St. Thomas, and all 30 with conventional rods and baits in Costa Rica," Lewis says.

When he isn't fishing, Lewis works as chief executive officer of Lewis Marine Supply, Inc., in Ft. Lauderdale, a company started by his dad and mom, Jim and Alice Lewis, in 1956.

"I enjoy fishing the East Coast of the U.S., Bahamas and Virgin Islands," says Lewis. "I feel like there's a lot more that I'd like to accomplish in this area rather than head somewhere else."