After 15 memorable seasons as a captain and deckhand for Angling Unlimited, Captain Ben is saying farewell. After thousands of days on the water with at least as many clients, Captain Ben leaves AU with a legacy of leadership, passion and commitment.
The day after Ben graduated high school, he was on a plane bound for Sitka. Ben, brother-in-law to owner Chuck, heard fishing stories and visited Sitka prior to his commitment to work. Those stories and experiences grabbed hold of Ben and never let go. He knew he wanted to work for AU.
First Ben put in three seasons of deckhanding for Captain Tom. Then he got his license at the tender age of 21 – youngest ever for an AU captain. But, he had a special maturity and immediately developed a loyal following of clients who only wanted to fish with Ben. He first took over as captain of Shearwater. He then ran Gannet and for the past 8 years he was at the helm of Loon. His favorite part of the job was meeting and fishing with people. He loved that each day was an adventure.
“Everyday is a new experience,” said Ben. “You never know what a day on the water will bring.”
Some of Ben’s most vivid memories involved huge king salmon. His very first day as captain, he fished at Point Mary. The group had a double on kings. After a long fight, he and his anglers were staring at a 57-pounder and 46-pounder. It was the biggest double of his career.
Another memorable moment came with a king caught by the late Randy Lee, in a place that rarely gets fished today, The Beach. Randy fought the 62-pounder for over an hour before Ben netted it. The pure excitement, joy and camaraderie that fish carried with it makes it one of Ben’s most cherished memories.
During his 12 years of captaining, he had some clients that fished with him every year – Jim Barlow, Dick Newton, Jim Mueller – to name a few. “At some point, those people go from being clients to being friends,” Ben said.
“Ben started deckhanding on my boat fresh out of high school,” said Captain Tom. “He was a good deckhand from day one and a very good one by the end of that season. Strangely, he was a better deckhand on the first day of his second year than he was on the last day of his first year. He’d clearly spent time developing the job in his head over the winter. Ben always showed up with his A-game. I never even saw the A-game. That shows enormous pride in his work and committment to his customers and coworkers.”
Ben hopes that his clients remember him for his passion, persistence and personality. But, he jokingly added, “They’ll probably remember me for not being able to sit still!”
Ben’s future plans involve continuing to work at Pinehurst Resort in Naytahwaush, MN. Ben and his brother-in-law hope to take over at Pinehurst Resort in the next few years. Ben is excited for the opportunity to spend more time raising his family of three kids (Jillian, Gabe and Zac) with his wife Trisha. Good luck Captain Ben. You will be missed!