World-class angler Walter Shikany, Jr. sits in the fighting chair of his custom-built Whitaker 56. A blue marlin is on the line. Shikany is working the fish as the fish works him in that classic man-against-beast struggle that makes billfishing so exciting. Then, all of a sudden, his cell phone rings, satellite phone buzzes or blackberry beeps. "Fish on the line, call you back," he says, without missing a beat. Shikany is as passionate about his angling as he is about his profession in the specialty biopharmaceutical industry.
A fourth generation Coral Gables, Florida, native, Shikany angled often as a boy. "I've been fishing since junior high in the mid-1960's. Primarily it's been around the Miami area and Florida Keys," he says.
Later, as an adult, he, his wife Terri and their two boys, Michael and Walter, III, now aged 26 and 27, respectively, would fish farther a field. The family would cruise to the lower Bahamas angling for snapper, grouper, tuna, and dolphin aboard successively bigger boats.
Shikany first owned a 31 Scorpion, then bought a 43 Bertram in 1992 followed by a 54 Bertram five years later. He purchased the Whitaker in 2003. "My first boats were called 'My Valium'. Now, my Whitaker 56 is named 'Never Enough'. I can never get enough of my Valium, which is sports fishing. Getting out and getting away from the everyday pressures is totally relaxing," he says.
Shikany's passion for life has always led him to seek the next mountain to climb. This opportunity in fishing came from his youngest son, Michael. "He thought we should get into blue marlin fishing and experience something of that size. So, we went to the Bahamas and fished the Bertram-Hatteras Shoot-Out and the Bahamas Billfish Championship," Shikany explains.
It was in Boat Harbour, in the Bahamas, and the year was 1999, when Shikany experienced his best blue marlin day. "We released five fish in one day and all before 2:30 p.m.," Shikany relates.
He continues, "We put lines in about 9-9:30 a.m. and soon after the first double header hit. We released both of those, then two hours later another double hit and we made the releases. Those two were active fish that fought a good 30 to 45 minutes. After that, we hooked up a singleton and released that one too. We only had one mate on, so there was a lot of pandemonium and tremendous excitement. In the end, I released three marlin and Michael released two."
Four years later, just after Shikany had taken delivery of the Whitaker, his new captain, Tom Lynskey, suggested his boss take marlin fishing to the next level. "I told him that if he really wanted blue marlin that he should come to St. Thomas," Lynskey says. Shikany heeded what literally proved to be his captain's winning advice.
"We learned to pitch bait in St. Thomas. Three weeks later, we entered the Boy Scout Tournament (USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament)," Shikany says.
Beginner's luck proved a charm. Shikany's son, Walter III, scored Top Angler with 5 blue marlin releases. Two additional releases by Shikany himself catapulted Never Enough into the Top Boat slot.
"A new boat, new captain, new crew (mates Reid Klein and Randy Zimmerman) and out of the box we really cleaned up. A lot came together for us in 2002-2003," he says.
Prime among the factors working in Shikany's favor was the purchase of the Whitaker.
"In 2002, we decided to take a hiatus and build a boat. We had our sights set on a 72 American," he says.
During the process of interviewing interior designers, Shikany met a candidate who suggested he and his wife look at the prospective designers' work in a boat open for viewing at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. "Terri and I took one look, found that the boat was for sale, and said 'that's it!' Why spend four years in the yard?," he says.
One step aboard Never Enough and it's clear why the Shikany's found love at first sight. The boat's original owners spared no expense in its construction, and had aptly named their masterpiece 'Picasso'. The extensive hand carved teak paneling gives the feel of a vintage schooner, yet the yacht is brimming with luxurious amenities and the latest technology for both cruising and fishing. All of this is built into a 56-foot package that sets the standards for organization and showcases a meticulous use of space.
Never Enough photo - Richard Gibson
Never Enough certainly stands ready to take Shikany far in fishing, both figuratively and literally.
"We spent August and September in St. Thomas," Shikany says. "Next year, we'll fish the lower Bahamas, Rum Cay in May, June and July. Then St. Thomas. From there, I'd like to fish Venezuela and head through the Panama Canal to Costa Rica."
Shikany's dream? Too spend one year fishing in the waters of Australia. "I've never been there before. I'd like to explore the waters, see a new frontier and catch any kind of marlin."