A Portrait of the Angler as a Young Man

I’ve chatted with a lot of folks about fishing over the last three decades. This became part of life when I began writing about the sport and making appearances at fishing shows and clubs, and through guiding or instructing individuals. Many folks are curious about my fishing background – where I got started, where I’ve fished, who I’ve fished with . . . It’s logical curiosity – these folks have no idea about me. My interests are all over the board – they have been forever. Salt water, fresh water, fly, conventional, heavy tackle, light tackle . . . hand lines, you name it. I’ve covered a lot of ground . . .

I started fishing when I was four years old, chasing sunfish (and bull frogs) with my dad and brother at Hampden Ponds in Massachusetts. This was immensely fun. Fishing fascinated me and I fell in love with it immediately.

Going through old photos, I thought I’d share some early fishing experiences with visitors to my site. Featured below are notable catches, interesting places, significant people, and a lot of great memories. These images are digitals of the original photographs and they’re collaged randomly – it was more fun to do it that way. With the exception of one picture, my first permit in 2005, they were all taken prior to 2000. I hope you enjoy the collage . . .

My second striped bass and biggest to this day. Watch Hill Rhode Island circa 1968
Awestruck at Rybovich & Sons, Palm Beach Florida April 1976
Landing my first tarpon, Long Key Florida June 1997
That thing looks enormous. The newspaper incorrectly notes that I’m 12. I was 10 and I still have the trophy
A decent yellowfin at The Fingers . . . south of Block Island circa 1977.
That’s a Red Sox cap. Trolling Challenger Bank circa 1967. I caught my first two little tunny along with my first and only blackfin tuna that day
The mustache, the hair . . . my goodness! A decent bass circa 1977
Perusing Dick Brown’s newly-released book on bonefishing with legendary Bahamas guide “Bonefish Joe” Cleare and fly fishing photographer Richard Franklin, Harbor Island Bahamas February 1994
A stuck fish . . . 400 pounds. I was the hired mate, Old Harbor, Block Island August 1978
Chunking for giants (I could not stay out of the way} Nebraska Shoal circa 1968
IGFA 2-pound-test tippet world record, 12 pounds, Napatree Beach Rhode Island September 27, 1997 . . . a euphoric moment
A decent bass Westfield Massachusetts June 1975. This was an interesting experience – remarkably, this fish survived the trip home on bike-back from a farm pond nestled deep within a ravine basin miles from home. The fish wiggled while taking this photo, which compelled me to revive it, which I did successfully with continuously running cold tap water in the kitchen sink. She overnighted in the tub, filled with cold water with a balanced slow drip feed and drain. Next day, in a tightly sealed bag of cold water, she returned to the farm pond by way of a harrowing ride through the woods to the rim of the ravine where I ditched the bike and made the 150-foot descent down the steep, windy path at breakneck speed . . . no sweat for a teenager. Returning this beautiful fish to her home was magical and gratifying and I can’t fairly articulate the feeling. I repeated the stunt with a ten-inch brookie soon after (also on bike-back, but from a stream much closer to home). That experience was just as fascinating
A decent flats ‘cuda . . . Grassy Key Florida May 1999
Love the shirt. Slammers, Southeast Light, Block Island circa 1967.
My first bonefish . . . again, euphoric. Man Island Bahamas February 1993. Longtime friend Bruce Pfund of Weekapaug Rhode Island introduced me to bonefishing on this trip – he took this photograph. We were accompanied by another longtime fishing friend Chuck Delamater, also from Weekapaug
My first mako . . . 145 pounds, Montauk circa 1975
IGFA 4-pound-test world record tautog, nine pounds 12 ounces, June 7 1983, Weekapaug Rhode Island.

This catch was largely influenced by a significant mentor – Captain Sonny Terranova of Westerly Rhode Island and Niantic Connecticut. Sonny possessed an exquisite fishing mind – one of the finest to ever emerge in the Northeast – both inshore and offshore. He shared his knowledge and insight when I had become old enough to appreciate the ideas and perspective he would instill in me. My time with him is incredibly valuable, forever appreciated and fondly remembered . . . I am lucky.

My first major league dorado . . . 45 pound bull, Mona Channel, Dominican Republic July 1991
USATT Galilee Rhode Island circa 1973
My very first striped bass . . . a terrible Polaroid but a priceless picture September 1967
Landing this little tarpon was YouTube-worthy (note the shirt : ) circa 1999
My first wahoo Cozumel Mexico April 1973
Selling bass . . . Shame on me! Stonington Connecticut 1982
My first dorado – a peanut. South of Montauk circa 1967, that’s my dad . . . on his Bertram 31 Bahia Mar – an outstanding fishing platform. I love this picture
An early sight-fishing success – 14 pounds August 1990 Misquamicut Beach Rhode Island
Fishing with Billy . . . Buchanan Bank June 1997
Wiring a blue, Rose’s Ledge, Rhode Island Sound circa 1977
Girl Bank, Harbor Island Bahamas February 1994
Circa 1972 Watch Hill Rhode Island with Domenic Abosso of Westerly Rhode Island – Dom was a mentor to me, particularly with striped bass fishing
Blast Off! Long Key Florida May 1998 . . . With Captain Michael Bednar who taught me the ropes
White marlin southeast of Block Island August 1982
Amberjack, Challenger Bank April 1967, about 45 – 50 pounds
300 pound bluefin on 30-pound-test, trolling the northeast corner of the Dump July 1978, I was the mate who rigged the bait, set the spread, set the hook, planted the gaff . . . My dad’s masterful boat handling enabled this catch on such light tackle
IGFA 4-pound-test-tippet world record striped bass Misquamicut Beach Rhode Island. Captain John Prigmore (owner of Covedge Bait and Tackle, Avondale Rhode Island), in the foreground, was immensely supportive with two IGFA record catches I made in 1997
Nothing on the line – a set-up photo with a Soviet fishing trawler in the backdrop. Swordfishing the Fingers well south of Montauk circa 1970
13 pounds . . . Long Key Florida 1999
Billing a small white, southeast of Block Island 1981 with Captain Jack Grant of Avondale Rhode Island (a bluewater mentor to me)
My first permit July 17 2005 Big Pine Key with Captain Lenny Moffo . . . More euphoria
My first white marlin about 75 pounds south of Butterfish Hole July 1976
Mako fishing southwest of Montauk circa 1977
I didn’t catch this fish, but I was intrigued. Almost as big as me, Misquamicut Beach Rhode Island August 1965
A pair of humdingers on six-pound-test September 1981 Weekapaug Rhode Island
Memorabilia from the Eighth Annual Shinnecock Swordfish Tournament June 1971 Shinnecock Long Island
My biggest white . . . just over 100 pounds trolling the 20-fathom tide rips between Block and Montauk August 1979
Saved my fav for last . . . circa 1967 on dad’s Bertram 31. I still have that beautiful Alcedo spinning reel

This post is dedicated to Brian Joseph Murphy . . . One of the most intelligent, well-rounded men I’ve ever known, and no better best Bud a man could have. You are deeply missed . . .