2019 Top Charter Captains of the Year

The five top skippers in the U.S., chosen by the fans of Sport Fishing magazine.

November 14, 2019
2019 Sport Fishing Top Charter Captains
2019 Sport Fishing Top Charter Captains Presented by Sport Fishing

Who are the top five charter captains in the country? According to Sport Fishing fans, they’re the five skippers who make up this gallery. SF fans nominated 60 captains and by popular vote narrowed that down to five finalists. In its fourth year, the prestigious annual contest allowed enthusiasts to vote once for their choice among the 60 outstanding nominees during the month of October; more than 5,000 people voted.

If your favorite offshore charter captain or inshore guide isn’t among these five, take heart and be ready to throw his/her name into the hat when SF calls for top-captain nominations again next fall in the fifth annual contest!

The captains are listed alphabetically.


Also see the previous Top Captains from 2017, 2016 and 2015.

2016 Charter Captains of the Year from Sport Fishing Magazine-black marlin mount from King Sailfish
Each top captain receives his choice of a King Sailfish mini-mount (such as this black marlin) with an engraved plaque. Courtesy King Sailfish Mounts

Besides tremendous recognition from the honor of being one of Sport Fishing’s Charter Captains of the Year, each skipper will receive a miniature replica mount with an engraved plaque from King Sailfish Mounts.

Mark DeBlasio

Capt. Mark DeBlasio holding a large tuna
Capt. Mark DeBlasio Blue Runner Sportfishing

Blue Runner Sportfishing


Home port: Point Pleasant, NJ

Website, Facebook, Instagram

Phone: 201-988-5475


Years as a fishing guide: 18


60-foot Ritchie Howell Custom running offshore
Blue Runner Sportfishing’s 60-foot Ritchie Howell Custom. Blue Runner Sportfishing
42-foot Northern Bay fishing offshore
Blue Runner Sportfishing’s 42-foot Northern Bay. Blue Runner Sportfishing

Favorite fishing grounds


Northeast Canyons and Cape Cod; Outer Banks, NC

Mega bluefin tuna caught offshore
A Blue Runner Sportfishing angler with a mega bluefin tuna. Blue Runner Sportfishing

Favorite species to target



Catching bigeye tuna

Most important lesson learned as a guide/charter captain

Always give 110-percent effort, and remember fishing should be fun for the clients. Catching fish is important, but showing our customers a good time is our No. 1 priority.

Large tuna caught with Blue Runner Sportfishing
Most of all, fishing should be fun, says Mark Deblasio. Blue Runner Sportfishing

Ozzie Fischer

Capt. Ozzie Fischer holding a redfish
Capt. Ozzie Fischer Bay Fischer Charters

Bay Fischer Charters

Home port: South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Island, Florida


Phone: 239-872-8515

Years as a fishing guide: 24


27-foot Cayo Cat running across the bay
Bay Fischer Charters’ 27-foot Cayo Cat. Bay Fischer Charters

Favorite fishing grounds

Pine Island South

Favorite species to target

Big snook

Large snook caught in southwest Florida
A big southwest Florida snook. Bay Fischer Charters


Light tackle inshore and offshore

Most important lesson learned as a guide/charter captain

Work hard, and always make sure my customers have a great time.

Big permit caught offshore
Ozzie Fischer makes sure his customers — like this one hefting a big permit — have a great time. Bay Fischer Charters

Duane “Diego” Mellor

Captain Duane “Diego” Mellor holding up large fish
Captain Duane “Diego” Mellor Pinnacle Sportfishing

Pinnacle Sportfishing

Home port: San Diego, California

Website, Facebook, Instagram

Phone: 619-850-7575

Years as a fishing guide: 15


25-foot Parker with multiple hookups
Pinnacle Sportfishing’s 25-foot Parker. Pinnacle Sportfishing
Large school of bluefin
“Foaming” bluefin have been a frequent feature on the Pinnacle Sportfishing’s favorite grounds. Pinnacle Sportfishing

Favorite fishing grounds

Southern California, northern Baja

Broadbill swordfish caught offshore
One of Duane Mellor’s favorite species: broadbill swordfish. Pinnacle Sportfishing

Favorite species to target

Tuna, yellowtail, swordfish

White seabass in SoCal
Duane Mellor enjoys targeting most SoCal game fish, certainly including white seabass. Pinnacle Sportfishing


Any species that inhabits or migrates through local Southern California waters

Most important lesson learned as a guide/charter captain: Stay humble, and simply focus on being the best that you can be for your clients, day in and day out. You’re only as good as your last day.

Nice haul for Pinnacle Sportfishing
Mellor: Stay humble and focused for your clients.

Steve Richardson

Capt. Steve Richardson offshore
Capt. Steve Richardson Backlash Sportfishing

Backlash Sportfishing

Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Hatteras, North Carolina

Website, Facebook, Instagram

Phone: 757-286-0711

Years as a fishing guide: 41


Purdue 56-foot Sportfish running offshore
Backlash Sportfishing’s 56-foot Purdue Sportfish. Backlash Sportfishing

Favorite fishing grounds

Off the Virginia and North Carolina coast

Favorite species to target

Blue marlin, white marlin, swordfish, tuna

Large tuna caught on a sportfisher
Backlash Sportfishing anglers appreciate the captain’s enthusiasm for big tuna. Backlash Sportfishing


Marlin and tuna fishing

Most important lesson learned as a guide/charter captain

There are so many important lessons I have learned over the years. Be courteous to your customers; always try your hardest to catch your charter’s fish; be patient; run a clean, efficient operation; and, most importantly, have fun.

Nick Stanczyk

Capt. Nick Stanczyk B n’ M Charters

B n’ M Charters

Home port: Islamorada, Florida

Website, Facebook, Instagram

Email: [email protected]

Years as a fishing guide: Licensed for 16 years; full-time charter captain for 11


37-foot Freeman running in the Keys
B n’ M Charters’ 37-foot Freeman. B n’ M Charters

Favorite fishing grounds

Islamorada offshore

Favorite species to target


Giant swordfish caught offshore
Swordfish, swordfish, swordfish: Nic Stanczyk is all about ‘em, including monsters like this mind-blowing 757-pounder. B n’ M Charters


Daytime swordfishing

Most important lesson learned as a guide/charter captain

An average fish for us may be the charter client’s best catch ever, so make sure to share the excitement because they may never forget that fish.


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