Nicola Pierini, based in St. Maarten and a native of Milan, Italy, has two traits that have served him well as a sports fishermen - a natural curiosity and a superstitious nature.
"My first memory of fishing is when I was four-years-old," tells Pierini. "I'd never seen my grandfather so enthusiastic. I wondered about all the commotion and was so curious to see what it was all about."
Pierini's family, who has distributed San Pellegrino-brand water and pharmaceutical products for over 150 years, owns a three-masted schooner. His grandfather, along with crew, would launch a small single-engine boat from this magnificent vessel and fish for tuna and amberjack using live baits.
At age 12, Pierini first fished by himself in the Indian Ocean. But, it was on holiday as a teenager where his marlin fishing took hold.
"I went to the Maldives for two weeks and ended up staying one and a half months," he says. "I hired a captain to take me out each day and he taught me so much. Step-by-step I learned how to put pressure on the fish and not tense my muscles. We caught marlin off the banks there that were about 150 or 160 pounds. Sometimes the mate had to hold me by the shoulders to prevent me from ending up in the water. Those marlin were small. But back then, they were huge to me...especially after fishing for tuna."
Photo Dean Barns - L-R: Team Somoya - Nicola Pierini, Tamara Petit, Tommy Green, Billy Hogel, James Barnes, OB O'Bryan; front L to R Richard Howell, Charlene O'Bryan, on the docks during 2008 ABMT.
Pierini's first boat was a Bertram 28, named Splash. "We'd fish around Sardinia. Again, my captain taught me a lot."
In the late 1980s, he traveled again to the Indian Ocean as well as to Australia to fish. In fact, Pierini's best day of fishing came when he was off the Great Barrier Reef fishing for black marlin. "I chartered a boat for two months for the purpose of catching a grander. It was only the second day when I landed my first grander. I remember being so scared. The fish was huge. Sharks were all around. Everything was happening so fast and just off the back of the boat. I can tell you, after I made that catch, I was so joyful, so happy."
It was in the early 1990's when Pierini honored a promise and put in three years working for the family business in its New York City office. "I promised my grandfather no fishing," he says. "I can remember being at Caneel Bay on St. John on business and it was so hard not to jump on a boat and head out to the North Drop."
Work complete, Pierini headed back to the Caribbean and to the island of St. Maarten. "What I like about St. Maarten is that it is very European," he says. "Also, the fishing is very good."
Though he bases in St. Maarten, Pierini enjoys traveling to fish. He's been to Madeira with Roddy Hays for granders and also to Central America, Panama and Costa Rica in particular.
He also enjoys tournament fishing and remembers one fun time when the battle on the seas wasn't just for fish, but to see which was stronger - water or rum.
"I fished the first Bermuda Triangle Series," Pierini explains. "Instead of taking our boat, we chartered Capt. Alan Card's Challenger. It was just two of us, Team Rum Bum with Luis Bacardi and us. Fishing was slow. Rum Bum caught the first fish, I caught the second and last of the tournament. So, Luis beat me on time. We had such a fun time."
Pierini enjoys fishing anytime, anywhere - except the 13th day of any month. "I'm superstitious," he says.
His favorite method is light tackle, but not too light. "Twenty-pound minimum for marlin," Pierini says. "I love to pitch bait, to feed the marlin, to look into the fishes eyes, feed it, feel it, catch it, release it."
"What I love about marlin fishing," he adds, "Is that no two experiences are ever the same. Every marlin is different, every fight is different. That's the challenge too. Marlin are so large and powerful. You have no minute to rest. The boat rolls, there's heat, you're confined to the chair, the fish can decide to do anything. The pressure is on you, and your team, to think and out think what the marlin will do next."
Pierini's fishing pursuits this winter will take him to a far off destination, a virgin territory that hasn't been explored before for its fishing potential and which promises the opportunity for grander marlin.
He'll make this trip aboard Somoya. Somoya is the nickname that Pierini's grandmother gave him when she first noticed his curiosity and passion for fishing. "It's an African name that means 'he who goes where the wild wind takes him'."
Photos - Dean Barns