The day was Saturday January 11, 1969, and the wind was blowing about 40 mph out of the northwest. A cold front had blown through south Florida on Wednesday, and the weather was snorting. Each day, later in the week, had gotten colder and the northwester had picked up steam. It was 28 degrees as we all stood huddle on the end of the Sail Fish Club main dock at 6:00 A.M., getting instructions and box lunches for the final day of the Master’s Sail Fish Tournament. The temperature was so cold that the Lake Worth Lagoon had steam rising from it and we could only see the tops of the candy cane striped Florida Power & Light plant’s, 250″ smoke stacks, 1/2 mile across the turning basin of the Palm Beach Inlet.

Unfortunately, the tournament committee had already called the tournament off for the one allowable weather day, of the six day tournament, on Tuesday (Jan. 7th), as weather was getting worse, while the cold front was approaching.  the weather had continued to deteriorate each day thereafter. As crews and anglers we had been fishing in 10 to 12 foot seas and cold nasty weather since Wednesday. Fishing had been good, but conditions were not only miserable but had reached the dangerous stage.

One “old salt”, Captain Freddy Voss, was vocal about the committee not calling off the last day of the tournament. Of course he had been at the Inlet Bar most of the previous evening. He was standing on the dock barefoot, wearing cache shorts and a Rybovich & Son’s T shirt from the day before. Capt. Fred had little credibility with the committee, even though he was making his point known. As crew, we all pretty much agreed with him.

At 6:45 A.M. our feet of 30 boats were heading out Palm beach Inlet, into what we all knew would be a brutal day of huge seas, blustering cold winds, salt spray everywhere, and even dangerous conditions. But it was the last day of  the Master’s Sail Fish Tournament.

If there was a bright spot in the circumstances, it was that the Sand Kat, a 40 foot sport fisherman, that my older brother, Capt. Doug Oliphant, and I were running, were starting the day in second place, only 2 fish out of first. As the luck of the draw our two anglers were Dave Carpenter, the previous years Masters’ Sailfish Tournament winner, and JoJo De Guercio, probably the best angler alive at the time. It just so happened, that JoJo was already in the lead going into the last day by 1 fish, and Dave was in the hunt only 2 fish back.

The Sand Kat had been raising our share of fish all week, and Doug & I were stoked concerning the quality of our anglers. We truly knew we had a good shot at winning, if we raised the fish.

As expected, the seas were monsterous, the wind was freezing, cold salt spray was everywhere. There was so much steam coming off the water you could not see the baits, and in those conditions, on a day boat, there is no place to hide.

In spite of the conditions however, sail fish were tailing down sea, and we were in fish all day long. Dave and Jojo were on the rods constantly, and we often had pods of fish up. They were eating everything. When the action started, we knew we were going to be tough to beat. The competition was on between Dave and Jojo, standing shoulder to shoulder baiting and fighting sail fish. As a young mate, I was watching the best in their sport, doing their “thing”. These guys both were great anglers.

By 2:00 P.M., we had 11 hookups, but Dave had released 1 sail, and Jojo had released none. Both were sliding down the leader board and out of contention.

At that point Jojo personally had jumped off or lost nine fish, that were hooked, taking drag, and jumping. He turned to me and asked, “Mickey, do you see anything I’m doing wrong?” I was speechless. The best in the world is watching a Master’s win slipping away, and he’s asking a 20 year old mate what’s wrong?

By the end of the day, the Sand Kat was 1 for 18, and Jojo was zero for 12. As we strolled in Palm Beach inlet after a brutal day on the ocean for all of us,  Jojo, standing on the bridge with Doug and me, apologized and said, “I’m sorry guys, you and I all should be standing on the podium tonight as winners and I let you down. I don’t what I was doing wrong.”

I turned to him and said, “Jojo, I watched the two best anglers in the  business today have a bad day, and you guys did nothing wrong, That’s just Fishing”.




JoJo Del Guercio 2

Read more about JoJo Delguercio –  http://fishingtackledepot.net/sportfishings-pioneers.html







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“Mack Attack Time”

Spanish Mackerel are a great choice for anglers who want fast action, challenging battles and a wonderful meal when the day’s fishing comes to an end. They are often in abundance along beaches, inlets, and the shallows of many bays, lagoons and green water estuaries along the south eastern united states and the Gulf of Mexico during the fall and winter months of the year. This species of mackerel is caught somewhere along the coast of Florida year round. They are a highly migratory species and usually congregate in large schools. During the winter months, they usually move southward to warmer waters. In the spring and summer months they tend to move back to the north.

Spanish mackerel are a favorite of fishermen, who frequent fishing piers, inlet jetties, beaches, and small boats from South Carolina south to Georgia,  up and down both the coasts of Florida, and the Gulf coasts from Destin Fl. to Galveston Texas.

4-19-11-1                                                 Gulf of Mexico Spanish Mackerel


Spanish Mackerel caught off the Pompano Beach Municipal Fishing Pier

Spanish Mackerel are one of the smaller sub species in the mackerel family. They usually run from 1 lb to as large as 8 or 10 lbs. They are swift swimmers and have razor sharp teeth. Their favorite food are glass minnows, which too migrate in the same patterns. When the minnows are present the Spanish mackerel are usually not too far behind.

As a sport fish, Spanish Mackerel are highly prized for their ferocious strikes, their fast runs and their persistent battles on light tackle. The ideal rod and reel is a light tackle spinning rod and reel or small bait casting rod and reel with 6 to 12 lb test line. The reel line capacity needs to be at least 125 to 150 yards. Anglers usually use a small amount of light #4 to #6 leader wire, because mackerel’s  sharp teeth will cut monofilament or braided fishing lines. Many various baits and artificial lures are used to catch Spanish Mackerel. They are caught from non  moving positions on beaches bridges piers, jetties, and anchored boats. Many fishermen in boats choose to troll for them, which allows for the angler to cover a lot of water, and move with the school if the fish are on the move.

Artificial lures used for Spanish Mackerel include small jigs, spoons, small feathers, quills, and small swim baits. Because Spanish Mackerel are extremely excitable, a fast retrieve is the presentation of choice. The best lures are life like at fast speeds. They are also attracted to flashing objects, therefore shiny sliver or gold spoons, and brightly colored jigs, feathers and lures are the best choice.

The most effective way to catch them depends on the angler’s ability to net a large abundance of glass minnows. When a school is located, chumming with and fishing  with the glass minnows will usually excite an eating frenzy and everyone catches fish.

When I was young (long before daily bag limits on mackerel}, my brother and I used to seine net, 30 gallons of minnows, in the early morning hours before daylight, and then catch hundreds of Spanish Mackerel in the Lake Worth Lagoon in Palm Beach, on the last of the incoming and first of the outgoing tides. We also caught them offshore in shallow waters by trolling, or casting and fast retrieving Tony Acceta Spoons and feathers, Japanese feathers, and Last Word spoons with feathers.  When schooled up on shallow reefs like Pecks Lake, off Hobe Sound, an anchored boat was the approach, with casting and fast retrieving  jigs and lures. Pecks lake has always been known for large schools of large  Spanish Mackerel.

Today, there are daily bag limits and size limits on Spanish Mackerel. Be sure to inform yourselves on all applicable rules and regulations concerning migratory game fish.

Spanish Mackerel are also a popular bait fish for catching large off shore Big game Fish, like Marlin and Giant tunas. They make great trolling baits, and are a natural diet of these big fish. When I was on the Big Game Fish Tournament circuits over 40 years ago, Spanish Mackerel were one of our baits of choice. They are still often used as a pitch bait when anglers are high speed trolling artificial lures.


The Spanish Mackerel is the choice of many Light Tackle Anglers!

To learn more, or to purchase your Fishing rods, reels, tackle and gear to catch your Spanish Mackerel, shop,the Fishing Tackle Depot.

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This blog is well worth the visit – “How to Tuna Fish”; “How to Fish: Wahoo”;  “How to Fish Sword Fish”; “How to Fish: Mahi Mahi”!

This company are also manufacturing some great products that will come on line early in 2013. Salt Armour is on the cutting edge of the sport fishing industry technology today!

Check out their blog.  http://saltarmor.com/blog/

Mickey Oliphant

Fishing Tackle Depot


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Fishing Dubai Style

image (1) imageThis is the new boat a customer of ours fishes in the Indian Ocean, out of Dubai and Oman. It is a 37 foot “Sniper” step hull, custom built by our client. The craft is powered with three 300 HP Merc Verados, and runs over 72 knots. The rig is used to fish tuna fish off shore, and the owner just purchased some Hydra Glow underwater lights from the Fishing Tackle Depot to use to attract bait fish to the boat at night.

That’s a great ride Saeed! Good fishing, and let us know how the lights work for you.

Mickey Oliphant




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Don't Let This Happen To Your Boat!

Don’t Let This Happen To Your Boat!

There is an old saying among experienced boatmen, when aboard a gasoline power boat, “Sniff often and always trust your nose”.

My first experience with the gasoline boat explosion left a vivid memory etched in my mind, that now over 57 years later, is still as fresh as the day I watched the old black wooden lap streak sport fishing boat blow in the Manatee pocket, in Stuart Florida, burn to the water line, and sink. I was 6 years old, and was standing in the early morning mist, on the shoreline about seventy five yards from the explosion, Snook fishing. The blast rocked the ground, and sent wood, glass and debri over 100 feet in the air. The captain that had started the engines was blown overboard, and suffered severe flash burns on his upper body.

Having been around boats of all makes and sizes all of my life, most of them gasoline powered, I learned that gasoline fumes, in any enclosed area, whether below deck, in a cabin, or even under an outboard engine cowling can act as a bomb. They can injure or kill boat occupants and can certainly burn your boat to the water line. A friend of mine was standing a cockpit hatch of a boat that blew, and he was catapulted over the top of two sport fishing boats and landed on the cockpit cover of the third boat over. The cover broke his fall and spared him from serious injury.

I don’t want to alarm here, for I have spent tens of thousands of hours aboard gasoline powered boats in my life, and if the popper precautions are observed, the odds of your boat blowing up are very slim. That’s the purpose of this blog.

While fishing a charter boat approximately 43 years ago, I spent an evening trip and a half day trip the following morning aboard a 40 foot sportfisherman, that was slowly spewing some of over 100 gallons of gasoline in the bilge, from a rear tank that had broken a seam.  While docking the boat after the evening trip both the captain and myself got a small whiff of the gasoline fumes. We spent about an hour checking things, and could not determine the extent of the problem at night. We left hatches opened all night, and the next morning, the smell was mute. No fresh gasoline smell or presence was observed. We discounted the previous night’s sniff, and went fishing for what was to be an all day charter. Around noon, however, while three miles offshore fishing, I went into the cabin to make a sandwich. The gasoline fumes about knocked me down. I immediately told the captain, and he jumped into the engine room to inspect the problem. By that time, the split in the tank had increased and 2 inches of gasoline were floating in the bilge. We immediately canceled the charter and headed back to the dock to get the party off the boat and away from the boat slip. 

The lesson learned from this experience was, that gasoline in a bilge needs a spark to ignite. The engines were running, the generator was running, the frig. in the cabin was running, and even the bilge pumps came on several times and pumped some gasoline overboard, but the boat never blew. We were very fortunate. The most dangerous time of that experience was after we docked, and the captain slowly turned off all mechanical items on the boat, and shut off all circuit breakers to all electrical components. Again, with raw gasoline in the bilge, she did not blow. 

Here are some major considerations that need to be understood in order to minimize your risks of a gasoline fire aboard your boat.

The two most critical times when boats blow up are usually after a prolonged stay at the dock, or shortly after a refueling of the boat.

#1. When a boat sits for a long period of time, preventive maintenance is often neglected. If a captain is the least bit sloppy, and does not properly check things out before starting up the boat, he can ignite a boat laden with fumes.

#2. Immediately or shortly after a recent refueling, if a gas tank has a weakness, it will show up with the renewed weight and stress of the new fuel. If a captain again is sloppy in his refueling disciplines, he can create an unwanted disaster.   

 The first precaution is to NEVER turn on anything or attempt to start a gasoline boat without first lifting a hatch, over the lowest point where water or liquids may be in the bilge, stick your head in the bilge and sniff! If you smell any fumes that concern you- check them out thoroughly. It dos not take a lot of fumes to be a problem. 

When going to the gas dock to refuel; Dock the boat, turn off everything on the boat, including the motors, the generators, and all electrical components, prior to bringing the fuel hose aboard the boat. Leave all hatches closed and sealed.  Leave all cabin doors closed and close all portholes prior to refueling. If fumes are accumulating you want to smell them. 

Fuel the boat, and be sure to clean up thoroughly any spills that might take place. Before starting or turning on anything mechanical or electrical, sniff the cabin and lift a hatch as described above and sniff the bilge. If any smell concerns you, CHECK IT OUT!

Just in the past year, this process saved my boat and possibly my life, when after refueling, a sniff in the bilge that concerned me, led me to find a pin hole in the same tank that I had just filled up with 135 gallons of gasoline. I was able to plug the hole with sheet metal screw temporarily, run the boat back to my dock, with all hatches open and later get the boat to a boat yard and hauled out for the installation of a new tank. Had I not done the sniff test, the tank would have slowing filled the bilge with gasoline, and who knows what the results might have been later.

A major mistake many captains make is to rely on their blowers to blow out gasoline fumes in  the bilge. First of all, the blowers are electric motors. Even though Coast Guard approved and supposedly fireproof, one blower failure and the results can be tragic. If a tank is leaking, sizable amounts of gasoline in a bilge, blowers will be insufficient to vent the bilge of all those fumes. It does not take a huge amount of fumes to be explosive.

I also recommend that prior to starting a gasoline boat, a captain should check all gasoline connections, fuel filters, and fuel lines to see if any potential leaks can be observed. This should be part of any normal pre-operation maintenance like checking oil levels, transmission fluid levels etc. I once found a cracked glass fuel filter located next to the carburator of a big block 454. When the engine was crank up, the fuel pump was forcing gasoline to escape from the small crack, and puddling on the intake manifold of the engine. There is no substitute for being observant while operating gasoline boats.

A similar process should be observed prior to staring an outboard motor as well. Lift the engine cowling prior to starting the motor, snif and check all fuel fitting, the fuel pump and filters for any leaks. I just saw an outboard motor blow about three months ago, and the fire begin to consume a 22 foot Mako with six adults aboard. Fortunately the fire was exstinguished, and no one got harmed.  

Enjoy your gasoline boat as I have enjoyed mine for many years. Be careful, be observant, be disciplined, and  “Sniff often and always trust your nose.”

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We are proud to announce the release to the market place of the all new Ande Premium Back Country Forest Green Mono Fishing Line, manufacturered by Ande  Monofilament Fishing Products, of West Palm Beach, Fl. This new color is added to the popular clors, Back Country Slate Blue mono, and Back Country Hi Vis Green mono.

The Ande Back Country products specialize in monofilament fishing lines designed specifically for smaller, light tackle reels. Inshore, salt and freshwater anglers like the line for its low memory properties, its exceptional tensil and knot strength, and its tangle resistant characteristics.

Whether spot casting in tight quarters, or fighting a giant tarpon in snag infested waters, you need the added strength and durability of Ande Back Country monofilament fishing line.

TO PURCHASE YOUR ANDE MONO – VISIT: www.fishingtackldepot.com

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                                    Lazy Bones III. Prior to the Tuna tower Being added

Originally built in 1954, by Rybovich & Sons Boat Works,  for a Hackensack Cadillac & Pontiac distributor and avid angler named W. Harry Peters,  the 40′ ‘Lazy Bones III. (the #15 Rybovich hull built) was a one of a kind fishing machine. It was constructed with every imaginable gadget available to serious fishermen of the day. As W. Harry described it; the Lazy Bones III. was painstakingly designed, custom constructed, specifically machined and outfitted, with the final result — a boat that would be perfect for spotting, baiting, fighting, and boating salt water big game fish anywhere, and in any weather conditions. In her day, the Lazy Bones III. proved herself as close to perfection as any fishing boat afloat. The boat was one of the first boats with a tuna door in the transom which allowed for big fish to come aboard without the use of the standard gin pole, which she also sported on her PORT side.

In her first three years on the water, the Lazy Bones III had welcomed a 604 lb. Blue marlin, a 772 lb. Giant blue fin tuna, and a 656 lb. Mako shark aboard her cockpit. W. Harry won the Bimini Big Game Fishing Club Tournament once and the Montauk Yacht Club Decathlon twice with his new boat in that same period. He was also the top angler in a grueling summer long competition for all types of game fish in all salt water classifications aboard her.

Peters in his early 50’s at the time, was serious about offshore fishing. The hood of his personal Cadillac sported a chrome plated miniature Blue Marlin as a hood ornament. His offices in Hackensack displayed silver capped blue marlin  bills on the walls, and paintings of all of his 11 sport fishing boats he had previously owned and fished.  A sailfish bill served as his letter opener. Needless to say. W. Harry knew boats, he knew big game fishing, and he knew what he wanted from his new Rybovich boat the Lazy Bones III.

W. Harry had the scares of failure to remind him of the need for a top quality fishing machine if you want to consistently catch the giants of the deep. In his first boat, which he bought in 1945, he hooked a giant blue fin off Watch Hill, Rhode Island, only to have the fighting chair fall apart with Peters in it. There were ten other boats that followed, and they all were either; too wet, too small, too slow, too clumsy, or too something, for a perfectionist, competitive angler like W. Harry Peters.

In 1951, Peter’s met Johnny Rybovich (John Jr.), and outlined his ideas of the “perfect” offshore sport fishing boat. Rybovich declined building the boat. The 36 foot boats the Rybovich family were then building had no rivals, and were considered the finest fishing boats afloat.  W. Harry was wanting a bigger, faster, and more roomy day boat, which would require Rybovich to make major changes from their proven successful boat building processes. Peters even wanted some critical hull design changes to add speed and what he thought would be improved fish fighting performance.

It took three years of persistence, a bombardment of calls by W. Harry, punctuated by personal visits to the Rybovich boat yard in West Palm Beach, to finally convince Johnny to  relent and agree to build the Lazy Bones III. In May 1954, the keel was laid on Peter’s new boat.  Peters, however, almost missed the November 1954 launching of the boat. On August 31 he was again off Rhode Island, when Hurricane Carol blew in and demolished or sank 25 of the 80 boats participating in the U.S. Atlantic Tuna tournament. “We rode it out with a hole in the boat,” he recalls, “but all I could think of while we were doing it was why the hell didn’t Johnny say he’d build Lazy Bones III sooner.”

Powered with twin 225 HP. Chrysler Crusader Engines, the boat would go from zero to over 24 knots in only 15 seconds. This hole shot speed was critical in chasing down big fish when the heat was on.  The 100 square feet of self bailing cockpit space made a great platform to fight really big fish. A state of the art Rybovich fighting chair was the only prominent fixture and the chair had every new feature to fit a man or woman who may have to spend several hours fighting a fish four or five times larger than the angler in the chair

The Lazy Bones III. after its launch was fitted with a new cutting edge 24′ high Aluminum Tuna Tower, which was a striking Rybovich innovation designed specifically for the Bimini and Cat Cay tuna fishermen who had difficulty spotting the schools of fish pushing through the Bahamas from the bridges of their boats. As these great fish migrated northward across the shallow Great Bahama Banks, the tuna tower was born in the early 50’s, and rapidly replace the previous Crow’s Nest.

The Lazy Bones III. was the first sportfishing boat to have three complete sets of controls from which to operate the boat. One set was in the Tower, the second set was the primary controls on the bridge, and a third set was located in the cockpit, where the boat could be maneuvered by the crew while fighting a fish in close proximity.

Needless to say, not only was Peter’s pleased about his new prize, the bulding of the Lazy Bones changed how the the Rybovich Boat Works looked at boat building forever. Within three years of the launch of Lazy Bones II. the Rybovich yard built eight sister models, each selling in excess of $70,000.00 for the bare boat.

I had the great privilege to fish the #15 hull in 1971 & 1972, when she was owned by George Rich III. and was called the “Moon River”. With my brother Doug as Captain, we fished numerous sailfish, blue marlin, and giant blue fin tuna tournaments in south Florida and the Bahamas. We were top boat in the 1972 Master’s Sailfish Tournament out of Palm Beach, with the “Moon River”.  Our boss Mr. Rich won top angler wards that same year. Of course in the Master’s, he was not allowed to fish his own boat.

The Moon River was fast, maneuvered with ease, and was a sturdy fishing platform even in 10 to 12 foot seas. She raised a lot of fish, and the tower made her a competitive Tuna fishing boat at tuna time in Bimini and Cat Cay.

The “Moon River” was great fishing machine and I owe a huge amount of gratitude to W. Harry Peter’s, with his vast fishing expertise and persistence, and to John Ryboviuch Jr, with his relenting willingness to build her as the “perfect” sportfishing boat of her day.

Unfortunately, hull #15, known at the time, as the Lady Iris was destroyed by fire off New Jersey in 1985.

Special note: I proposed to my wife of 41+ years aboard the “Moon River” in West End Grand Bahama in 1971.

Thank you W. Harry Peters and John Rybovich Jr.

Captain Mickey Oliphant

The “Moon River” (1971)  as I remember her! One Great Fishing Boat 


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A "Bass Master"

Now that’s a “Bass Master”


If only Kevin Van Dam could learn some lessons. Gotta Love it! 




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Annie Was A ferocious Angler – A Classy Lady

She probably didn’t weigh much over 100 pounds soaking wet, but Annie C. Kunkel was a ferocious angler, when in the cockpit or the fighting chair of a sport fishing boat. Annie, a member of the IWFA Hall of Fame (1983), was a female pioneer,of off shore, Big game fishing. Annie, a resident of Palm Beach was an avid participant in bill fishing and tuna fishing tournaments throughout south Florida and the Bahamas for over thirty years.

I personally had the opportunity to fish Annie in several IWFA sailfish tournaments out of Palm Beach, and many of my bosses (mostly men) fished against her in many Blue Marlin and Tuna Tournaments throughout the Bahamas. Annie always fished with great crews (Captain Jackie Lance and Capt. Kenny Lyman with Annie – above) and was always in the hunt.

Annie was one of the few female anglers at that time, that would don the bucket harness, and snap to the 130lb. stick, to take on the mini submarines we called giant blue fin tuna, as they pushed through the Bimini chain, during the last two weeks in May and the first two weeks of June each year. Annie out fished many of the men every year.

I think it was either 1970 or 1971, Annie and Jojo Delguerio had an unofficial contest on going, at Tuna Time in Bimini and Cat Cay, to see which angler could catch the most giant blue fins.  At the time, Jojo was considered one of the most experienced and productive anglers alive. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but they both caught upwards of 200+ tunas each. If my memory is correct, Jojo only beat Annie by a couple of fish. She was the talk of the water front. It was an amazing feat for anyone to catch five or six giants per day on 130lb. tackle. Annie was the talk for the tuna circuit.

I can honestly say- it was fun to fish Annie, and many of the early members of the IWFA, and all of them were classy ladies.

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These huge bass were all caught on ABT Lures.  You can purchase yours at the Fishing Tackle Depot

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