If you had to rely on me catching a fish for your dinner, you’d discover the joys of dieting really quick. It’s just not my skill set. I have friends who can head out on the boat in the morning and by 7 p.m., have the day’s catch on the table with an interesting salad and a selection of LauderAle seasonal releases to wash it down. But that’s not me.
However, if I can’t find a fish to save my life, I definitely know a good story when I see one. In this, our annual boating and yachting issue, I hope you enjoy reading Ryan Pfeffer’s profile of Bouncer Smith as much as I did. If you’ve never heard of Bouncer before, you’re in for a treat. If you have – trust me, it’s as much fun as you’d imagine a Bouncer Smith profile might be.
Bouncer’s a charter fishing boat captain and a bona fide South Florida legend. Others on the fishing scene might be more well known, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody more revered. He’s like the guitarist that your favorite guitarist raves about.
He’s also a character in an industry that makes our region more interesting by supplying a steady stream of them.
The boating and yachting industry, and its adjacent industries such as sportfishing, have become more professional over the years and, let’s be clear, that’s a good thing. These are crucial industries that provide livelihoods across Fort Lauderdale and South Florida; it’s not some romance-of-the-seas Jimmy Buffet song. Elsewhere in this magazine, we profile the International Yacht Brokers Association. It formed in the 1980s when the industry was, in the words of the man at the association’s head, a bit more of a wild west. Organizations like the IYBA help make vital Fort Lauderdale industries better and more trusted.
And you know who else does that? Bouncer Smith. The great thing about the professionals-versus-characters battle is that it’s not one; you can be both. Bouncer’s a philosopher-king with a Dusky throne, but he’s also a consummate professional who wants to make the sport and business he loves more accountable and sustainable. He was into conservation when conservation wasn’t cool, and today one of his biggest goals is passing on a lifetime of knowledge to the next generation of fishermen and conservationists.
It’s a great and inspiring story – whether you’re a knowledgeable fisherman or, like me, you’re someone whose fish-acquiring knowledge ends at “Wednesday is $5 sushi day at Publix.”