Salt Water Sportsman magazine recently published a list of the top 50 charter captains. The magazine asked their readers to nominate captains from around North America for the list. Then, the staff and contributors made their selections from that rather lengthy list. Captain Tom was honored to be included on the select list of professional guides who are at the top of their field.
Captain Tom shares his path to becoming a top charter captain
In 5th grade, at the beginning of each month, I’d come home from Wilson School in Westfield, New Jersey hoping to find something special in the mail – my newest edition of Salt Water Sportsman. Amidst the pages I’d find articles about the world of fishing well beyond the polluted little ponds within reach of my bicycle. I’ve been reading the magazine ever since.
The trip from a commuter town in New Jersey and a family that had zero maritime history to becoming a charter captain in Alaska was long and anything but direct. After a few years of liberal arts education in Boston, I dropped out of college and fished constantly in Massachusetts amidst the economic malaise the mid 70’s. I decided to return to higher education when I heard of a place called “The College of Fisheries” at the University of Washington in Seattle. Upon graduation I immediately left for the Florida Keys to fish. That didn’t really go all that well, but a few of the people on the Top 50 list – Skip Braden and Alex Adler were already making a name for themselves. They were in a league that seemed out of reach.
After Florida, I returned to New England, got a job for a boating magazine called OFFSHORE. I began writing a column and eventually branched out into publishing in other magazines with Salt Water Sportsman the ultimate target. To that end I visited the magazine, met the Barry Gibson, the editor who is also on the Top 50 list. Barry was both gruff and helpful. I contributed many articles and eventually became their Northwest Field Editor. In the meantime, I began my career of saltwater guiding in Neah Bay, Washington. That was 26 years and about 2000 guided trips ago.
Over the years my wife Linda Mae supported my efforts with great patience and strength. I was lucky to have some great deckhands that made everything better and taught me a lot – like my partner in business Chuck McNamee, as well as Captains Ben Baumann and David Gross who run boats for our business.
That kid in New Jersey who eagerly awaited each issue of Salt Water Sportsman is truly amazed at being named in the Top 50 list in his favorite magazine. It has been a long and fortunate road from the suburbs of New York to making a living and being honored for doing what I love.