Author: Colby Uva
September came around and the the sales dropped off like a lead weight into what felt like an abyss (shamless plug about an awesome article on the community on daytime swordfishing). There were days without sales. I did everything I could to get them going. As you may have gathered from here, Chemistry is not my thing, I was into my second semester of Chemistry and was supposed to be studying, but I could not get my mind off the sales.
I spent days on Facebook, running contests, doing anything I could to get the word out, but it seemed like they had diminished. September ended with about $500.00 in sales. I was devastated. To make matters worse October was even worse, only $170.00 in sales. Oh and I failed Chemistry II.
I began obsessing over the minutia of everything trying to figure out what was happening. I looked at the shopping carts, (I was using wordpress at the time), there were so many shopping carts but not everyone was buying. I have come to learn now, that this is a common phenomena in E-commerce to have people that put things in their carts, but don’t go to checkout, but at that time it was driving me crazy.
I really don’t remember why it happened, but in the winter the sales came back up again. At that point I guess I chalked it up to Seasonality and made a note to myself to brace for the fall of next year.
At the time I was still working in a research lab we were studying bonefish and tarpon. I worked directly under Dr. Mike Larkin, well at the time he was not a doctor and was working on his dissertation on bonefish populations. Mike had a true obsession with bonefish and was probably the single best thing to happen to bonefish in Biscayne Bay. He had the unique qualities of being both a Scientist and a Fisherman.
This combination gave him a unique ability to coordinate with guides. You see guides have one thing to their advantage and that is knowledge where the fish are and when they are going to be there. No guide wants to give away all of their spots, because this is key information. I think guides were able to work with Mike because he had a passion for the fishing side. As Cpt. Joe Gonzalez put it when I interviewed him for an article year later:
"Here is a guy who was more worried about the fish and or fisheries than his own skin! "
One thing I learned from Mike was a skill called “OCD”, to some people this is a natural part of their personality, but to me it does not. Mike’s OCD was his biggest strength and his biggest weakness, and I am eternally grateful he trained me in it because there are so many times when it has saved my ass. Thank you Mike.
As my job under Mike progressed, Mike had a son and a whole new world of responsibility came on his shoulders. It was time for him to wrap up his dissertation and get things done. I do not have any kids up to this point, but I do thank Mike for being a mentor to me in that aspect, I got to learn about the daily new responsibilities of fatherhood almost as if it were part of my apprenticeship. He also told me of his plan to introduce his son to fishing, I have seen his recent posts on social media and it seems to be working.
When his son was first born he wrote up a “essay” I guess that is what you could call it, but basically It was how he felt. I could see that Mike’s life had changed at that moment, he had a new lense in life.
As the young gun in the lab, I had new responsibilities. No one else in the lab actually fished even though they were fisheries scientists, so I was sent out on many of the expeditions. Most of these expeditions involved satellite tagging tarpon. It was an excellent opportunity to network with fishermen. Obviously, I also used the trips to talk with them about my new venture.
I got to fish some really cool places and meet some really great fisheremen. One of my trips was to Belize to El Pescador Lodge. El Pescador has forever shaped in my mind what a vacation SHOULD look like. It's also almost $10,000 per week to stay there.
When a guest arrives at El Pescador, he/she (it is here that I first learned that there are some pretty avid fisher ladies out there). is met by the head fishing guide. The guide asks them questions about how they would like to fish, what their fishing goals are, and what tackle they have brought with them. This definitely beats checking in at the Marriott.
Another cool trip was to a tournament in Port O’Connor Texas. The tournament was a great cause put together by a corporate Lawyer Scott Alford. He put together Project Tarpon as a way to raise money for our tagging efforts. I met Scott in Houston and he picked me up in a International 6500. If you have never heard of one of these things, its pretty much a private semi with a pickup truck bed. Everything really is bigger in Texas I thought to myself.
We drove to the tournament along with one of Scott’s clients, the CEO of a “small” but publicly traded oil company. We ended up in Port O’Connor a small fishing port about an hour from Houston. The town tiny and our hotel was right on the water, the boats literally docked right behind your room. It was pretty cool.
That night I went out to a tiny bar with one of the other teams. “Team Chorizo”, these guys were the young guns of the tournament and actually ended up winning it. The bar was so small it was literally just us there, and we had a blast shooting pool.
The next morning, I went out on the committee boat (Scott’s) it was a beautiful custom boat made by Winter Custom Yachts. This boat was perfect in every way. Scott had designed it specifically to troll for tarpon. Yea that is right troll for tarpon, I had never heard of it, but basically these guys troll a jig head with a soft plastic attached to it which is zip tied to a friecking 14/0 circle hook. The rig is called a Coon Pop. I was completely shocked. What was even more shocking to me was that they were using 400Lb monofilament.
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