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April 30, 2013

Cockpit Control

Building the Perfect Tournament-Ready Fishing Team

Fishing is often at its very best when carried out in solitude. This is not surprising, as the sport is extremely personal and rewarding when pursued this way. That said, there’s nothing quite like fishing as a part of a team. It’s also a personal and rewarding experience — not to mention loud, exciting, ­exhilarating and just plain fun.

When it comes to the arena of high-stakes, competitive team fishing (whether in tournaments or just normal, everyday fishing), Miami’s Capt. Ray Rosher commands a high degree of respect. Regarded by many as the pre-eminent offshore captain in South Florida, his tournament pedigree is also a cut above the rest. He offers a few thoughts here on team fishing.

Everyone Has a Job

(JASON ARNOLD / JASONARNOLDPHOTO.COM)

In the offshore world of marlin and tuna, fishing is almost always a team sport. It has to be when dealing with such large animals. The traditional make-up of such a team includes a skipper, an angler and two mates — a wire man and a gaff or tag man.

But there’s more to team fishing than meets the eye, especially when it comes to the various types of tournaments.
Take, for instance, the all-release sailfish events that Rosher competes in throughout South Florida. Depending on the size of the boat he’s running, the number of lines allowed and the number anglers permitted, Rosher might have anywhere from one to five mates working in the cockpit below, in ­addition to several anglers.

That’s a lot of bodies — but one simple rule always applies: Everybody’s got to work as a team.

“In everyday charter fishing, one guy generally watches the lines on one side of the boat, while another watches the other side,” says Rosher. “But in tournament fishing, one guy’s watching two baits at most, and preferably only one.”

When the bite is on, triple and even quadruple hookups are not uncommon in these tournaments, and communication becomes critical.
“When I’m running a boat from the tower, it’s sometimes impossible to hear me below because of the wind,” says Rosher, “so I need to rely on an experienced alpha mate. We’ve got to be on the same page. I might holler a couple of words to that mate, and he’s got to quickly translate to the rest of the team. It’s almost like a ­quarterback making calls on the fly.”

In a perfect world, the teammates react as a singular, efficient unit, pulling together in their various capacities to get the job done. But that’s only part of it.