Not all teenagers and twentysomethings like to hang out with Mom and Dad. But, this isn't an issue for Matt Daniels, whose four kids love sports fishing as much as he does. No wonder his 58' Merritt, J.A.C.S., is named for the first letter of each of his children's names.
Daniels, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio - where he still lives and is the principal-managing partner of Bear Creek Capitol a real estate development company - is a relative newcomer to the sport of big game fishing.
"We traveled for many years to the Florida Keys, mainly Islamorada, for vacations," he says, "and we would occasionally do a little flats fishing when there."
Daniels leap into the billfishing scene came when a family member introduced him to the then Keys-based charter skipper, Capt. Ed Yannetty.
"My son and I went out sailfishing with Yannetty several times and that hooked up," he says.
Daniels enjoyed the billfishing experience so much that he purchased a 33-foot Grady White. A few years later, he bought a 55-foot Merritt, hired Yannetty to be his captain, and started traveling to the Bahamas to angle."
That was about 8 years ago.
"What I like about big game fishing - big tuna, blue and black marlin," says Daniels, "is the excitement. Pitch bait for blue marlin and live baiting for black marlin, both are tremendous."
He also enjoys the tradition. "Everything from Zane Gray to the late Jim Lambert. It's the whole tradition of fishing, the small group of people who get to know one another like family and each have the same keen interest and pursuit of the sport, and the great custom boats that go along with the whole tradition."
Daniels is a big fan of Merritt boats. "I like the attention to detail and trim quality," he says. "The 58, which I now own, is exceptionally comfortable for a long day of fishing. I like the clean wake it throws when trolling."
Daniels makes good use of his boat and a private plane makes it easy for he and his family to visit choice fishing destinations amidst busy schedules.
"We start off the year in Islamorada," he says. "In the spring its over to Hatteras, the Bahamas and Bermuda by July. We're in St. Thomas from August through October. Then, it's either back to the Keys for sailfish or to Isla Mujeres for sailfish. Last year, and again next year, we're going to vary this routine by fishing Panama and Costa Rica from November to March."
Daniels continues, "Each spot is a little different and that's what we like."
However, he says, "If I had one last place to fish, it would be St. Thomas over the August full moon. That's because of the number and aggressiveness of the blue marlin. A close second would be Piņas Bay in Panama for black marlin."
Daniel's best day of fishing happened at Piņas Bay.
"It was last November. We were live baiting for yellowfin tuna and caught 8 all between 100 and 200 pounds, some on multiple hook-ups at a time," he tells.
Another great day of fishing, Daniels adds, "Was the time we had 11 bites in one day in St. Thomas. That was last September (2007)."
On the other side of the coin, his perhaps most unlucky day came while fishing the Sea Horse Anglers Club Billfish Tournament in Bermuda in 2007. "I had a backlash on a pitch bait marlin that would have made us the winner for the day," Daniels says. "Boy, I felt like throwing that rod in the water afterwards."
A week earlier, though, Daniel's J.A.C.S. placed third in the Bermuda Big Game Classic as a first-time competitor, with three blue marlin and two white marlin releases.
"My 19-year-old son Chase and I are really dedicated to offshore fishing," says Daniels. "However, my wife and three daughters also enjoy fishing too. In fact, my daughters have each caught a blue marlin. It's an amazing experience."