June 4, 2023
Sharky’s Revenge on the transfer off St. Thomas.
© Scott Kerrigan / www.aquapaparazzi.com

Winter amid the snowy peaks of Aspen, Colorado, is diametrically against sunny Florida, however for Miami native Rob Ruwitch, it’s all concerning the journey, regardless of the shape. Because the proprietor of the globe-trotting 46-foot Kincheloe-­Nickerson often called Sharky’s Revenge, he is aware of a couple of issues concerning the world, having taken the boat a whole lot of hundreds of miles to a few of sport fishing’s greatest locations, and all the time by itself backside.

I spoke with Ruwitch one early morning in late January whereas he was ready for his favourite ski lodge to open and grumbling concerning the single-digit temps awaiting him on the opposite aspect of his truck window. What adopted over the following hour was a freewheeling near-stream-of-consciousness ­dialogue about boats, marlin fishing, Venezuela, Alaska and extra boats, which resulted in 12 pages of single-spaced notes and a glance inside one of many sport’s most fascinating packages.

A black and white image of a man smiling.
Whereas his many passions embody journey and snowboarding, Rob Ruwitch has all the time been a diehard billfish angler and match competitor.
Richard Gibson

Off and Operating

Like most house owners, Ruwitch discovered himself ­transferring up by way of a couple of boats within the mid-Nineteen Eighties earlier than discovering a rig he may actually sink his tooth into. A string of center-consoles, together with a Formulation, a Paramount and one of many first 25-foot Contenders, ultimately led to a 38-foot Luhrs. “My roommate on the College of Florida on the time and I had an ongoing wager: We each needed to be the primary to catch a blue marlin,” Ruwitch says. “He was touring to the Caymans so much, and ultimately he caught his fish first, however I lastly did it on the Luhrs in Chub Cay with a buddy, and that was it—I used to be hooked. If it had a invoice and jumped so much, I needed to catch it, and marlin fishing turned a lifelong ardour of mine from that day on. After we began touring to locations like St. Thomas and Venezuela and the fellows needed to tuna fish for some time, I’d actually sit on the engine field and pout till it was time to marlin fish once more.” And with greater than 3,000 blues to his credit score, that keenness reveals no signal of waning.

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An opportunity encounter on the Miami Worldwide Boat Present in 1997 caught his eye. “On the time, the boat was known as Bullet—the dealer mentioned she was the quickest 46-footer on the water—a legit 40-knot boat, and this was 25 years in the past,” he says. Some research led to an fascinating story behind the construct: Gordon Kincheloe and John Nickerson had teamed as much as construct quick, well-outfitted South Florida-style dayboats, ultimately finishing two 44-footers and a 61-footer. They constructed the hull and home for a 46, however the industry-crushing luxurious tax of the day took its toll on the corporate earlier than it may very well be accomplished, and the enterprise enterprise went beneath. A builder named Charlie Brown completed the boat for Nickerson as his private vessel in 1993; it went up on the market a couple of years later on the Miami present. “I had taken the Luhrs to Mexico a couple of occasions with my dad, and so I used to be in search of one thing slightly larger, and sooner,” Ruwitch says. Bullet was renamed in honor of his pet golden retriever, Sharky. “The canine wasn’t very well-behaved; in truth, it ate every little thing in the home, so it simply appeared becoming that the boat can be Sharky’s Revenge,” he says.

A fishing team on the deck of a boat.
The Sharky’s Revenge workforce preps for a day of fishing off Venezuela.
Scott Kerrigan / www.aquapaparazzi.com

The Journey Begins

As quickly because the boat was able to journey, Ruwitch wasted no time in hitting the proverbial highway. “The primary journey was up the East Coast to North Carolina. Consider,” he says, “I’m a South Florida man, so this was an all-new expertise for me—getting up at 3:30 within the morning, operating out of Hell’s Gate in Oregon Inlet to go fishing, after which operating dwelling in the course of the afternoon to make it again by darkish, after which getting every little thing cleaned up and prepared for the following day. After we bought dwelling to Florida, I wanted a trip from my trip, however we had enjoyable. I additionally caught the biggest blue marlin of my life on that journey—we known as it a straightforward 800, and fought it for six and a half hours on 20-pound-test. We backed up 21 miles on that fish and had it on the chief at the least two dozen occasions. We had been going to kill that one; in truth, Chip Shafer floated us a flying gaff, however ultimately we popped the chief. I nonetheless vividly keep in mind that one although.”

Subsequent cease: Mexico. With Capt. Scotty Alvarez on the helm, Sharky’s Revenge made a number of journeys south to Cozumel throughout that vacation spot’s heyday within the late Nineteen Nineties, utilizing plastic 55-gallon drums to haul extra gas on deck for the passage from Key West. After returning to the US, Ruwitch confronted a private disaster when his father, Lee, handed away in April 1999. A profitable businessman and entrepreneur, Lee had a major affect on Rob’s skilled profession as a revered adviser and mentor, in addition to a loving and devoted father. “I had simply spent two months within the hospital with my dad, so Scotty and I had taken the boat to the Bahamas after which right down to Provo, towing my 17-foot Mako flats boat that I had on the time. He needed to maintain going to St. Thomas, however I needed to fly dwelling to handle my dad’s property, so I bought on an airplane and left. Once I landed, I considered it and known as Scotty again. I mentioned, ‘If you could find somebody to tow the flats skiff again to Miami, then you possibly can go to St. Thomas.’ And that’s what we did.”

After season fishing the North Drop, they saved heading south to Venezuela and its storied fishery of the La Guaira Financial institution. “I had all the time needed to undergo the [Panama] Canal after which fish the Bisbee’s, so we simply saved going,” Ruwitch says. Three days later, Sharky’s Revenge pulled into Herradura Bay—the eventual location of Los Sueños Resort and Marina—which on the time had only a single small dock for the employees. “We requested if we may tie up the boat for a few hours and went into Jaco for tacos on the seashore, then saved going up the coast to Flamingo,” he says. In Nueva Vallarta, Mexico, an opportunity encounter with Kerri Burrus and Capt. Norm Isaacs led to a different plot twist. “Norm had been filming his present, Large Sport Fishing the World, on ESPN for some time and had this concept for a made-for-television match sequence, the place individuals would journey round and fish some nice locations comparable to St. Thomas, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, with digital camera crews and judges on every boat. Kerri mentioned, ‘I’ll do it in the event you do,’ and that was the beginning of the [Billfish Xtreme Release League].”

A sport-fishing boat on the water surrounded by glaciers.
Removed from the overwhelmed path, Alaska proved to be simply considered one of many unimaginable locations for the workforce, who traveled as far north as Skagway, dodging a couple of icebergs alongside the route.
Courtesy Rob Ruwitch

Scoring a Fantasy Slam

After spending a couple of seasons fishing out of Caraballeda, Ruwitch knew that the Venezuelan fishery was a particular one. And as with every type of journey vacation spot, simply while you suppose you’ve seen all of it, the surprising occurs. “We had been there for a few weeks in mid-­December 2004,” he says. Capt. Bubba Carter had been on the helm for a couple of seasons, and fishing was good. “We had been a white marlin wanting a triple grand slam on December 13, so we went out the following day and simply mentioned, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’” First chew: the white marlin they wanted from the day earlier than. A short time later, their second fish appeared to be one other white marlin; simply as they had been on the point of launch it, the Venezuelan mate yelled, “Spearfish!” in order that they took a better look and some images. It was Ruwitch’s first. Put the baits again out; chew No. 3 was a sailfish. “Now we’re considering at the least a brilliant slam, so we trolled into some deeper water off the ability plant and bought a chew,” Ruwitch says. “The fish stayed deep, didn’t soar. We had been considering it was a blue marlin, and positive sufficient, we had a brilliant slam, and it wasn’t even midday but.”

Carter bought on the VHF and known as Capt. Desi Zenar, skipper of Large Y (who has since handed away), who occurred to be method offshore of the financial institution tuna fishing. “We ran to him, and he loaned us a pair of 80s, some swordfish baits and a few rocks from the seashore, and we had been all set,” he says. They ran again to the financial institution and bought set as much as drop for a swordfish. “The locals use a paper bag filled with rocks as a weight,” Ruwitch explains. “The bag comes aside when it hits the underside, and the bait drifts alongside. Bubba mentioned that we had sufficient to make one drop, however I instructed him, ‘We’ve a toolbox filled with instruments. We’ll begin pulling components off the engines if we have now to, however we’re staying till we catch one.’ It didn’t take lengthy, after which the mate was yelling at me to reel.”

A large striped marlin breaking out of the surface of the water.
The newest enterprise contains forays to Mexico’s Magdalena Bay for its superb striped marlin fishery.
© Scott Kerrigan / www.aquapaparazzi.com

With practically all the road off the spool and no braid backing, it was an extended crank, however ultimately there was slightly resistance and a tiny little bit of a bend within the rod tip. “I used to be winding and winding, then we bought the sunshine up, and I stood up within the chair and seemed over the aspect—all I noticed was this large eyeball. It most likely weighed about 25 kilos, however we had caught our swordfish. We caught solely 5 fish that day, however these 5 simply occurred to be all the Atlantic billfish species, and it was solely about 2 p.m. after we began heading again to the marina.” That led to a worldwide chase to catch an IGFA Billfish Royal Slam within the shortest period of time, which ended at 33 days. Finally his mark was overwhelmed, however it stays one of the ­superb feats in billfishing historical past.

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North to Alaska

Not happy to chase billfish simply in temperate climates, Ruwitch subsequent set his sights on a journey expertise in contrast to another. “I imagine it was 1987 once I talked to [Capt.] Randy Jendersee in Cozumel,” he says. “He had taken Free Enterprise as much as Juneau, Alaska, and again down the coast, and I believe that planted the seed behind my thoughts. I used to be simply considering, Wow, that’s bought to be the last word journey, and Randy did it in a 54-foot Bertram with out GPS.” Hanging out with fishing buddies Capt. Jason Brice and Albert Castro again dwelling in Miami, Ruwitch broached the Alaska concept; after a couple of glasses of wine, Brice signed on. With not way more than a few cruising guides, Sharky’s Revenge made its method north from Mexico up the Pacific coast of the US, after which by way of the Inside Passage to Ketchikan earlier than persevering with up previous Juneau to ­the small city of Skagway. After they misplaced their chart plotter midway by way of the journey, Ruwitch discovered himself navigating a whole lot of miles alongside the coast utilizing the Navionics app on his telephone. “We had entry to gas all alongside the way in which, stopping at these distant little villages and fishing lodges,” he says. “And we’d additionally drop the crab traps every afternoon; practically each day we had recent Dungeness crabs and noticed prawns. It was an incredible journey.” With its outriggers and open flybridge, Sharky’s Revenge turned heads as a stranger in an odd land, drawing many a query or quizzical look from the locals wherever it turned up alongside the route.

A black and white image of a boat captain.
Capt. Bubba Carter was on the helm for Ruwitch’s fantasy slam in Venezuela.
© Scott Kerrigan / www.aquapaparazzi.com

Magdalena Bay and the Journey Evolution

After making the Seattle-to-Alaska run as soon as extra for some prolonged sightseeing, nowadays the boat is fortunately based mostly in a much more appropriate location: Cabo San Lucas. “Proper now, I’m in love with the striped marlin fishing in Magazine Bay,” Ruwitch says. “It’s a number of the most unimaginable fishing on the planet, and I’m pleased to run the boat now as a lot as I’m to fish, which is what I’ve executed most of my profession. It’s enjoyable watching different individuals get as a lot enjoyment out of it as I do.”

To this point, Sharky’s Revenge has made the Magazine Bay journey from Cabo at the least 10 occasions; at 46 toes, it’s practically all the time the smallest touring vessel within the fleet, to not point out one of many few to get there totally by itself backside. The unique 10-cylinder mechanical MAN engines have been rebuilt quite a few occasions, and Ruwitch will admit that typically there may be simply baling wire and ­bubblegum holding issues collectively, however it’s held up remarkably properly through the years. “The miles have by no means actually bothered me,” he says. “I keep in mind again within the day, when everybody was operating to Bimini from South Florida, you needed to go over in an enormous flotilla of eight or 10 boats, and also you all the time checked the climate actually fastidiously. Hell, I’d run over in my 25-foot Contender, have a rum drink, after which run dwelling.”

A black and white image of a boat captain.
Capt. Jason Brice was aboard for the memorable journey to Alaska from southern California.
Courtesy Jason Brice

There was an incredible evolution in journey as properly. “I definitely don’t begrudge anybody transport their boats all over the world,” he says. “It simply wasn’t a viable possibility after we began touring 25 years in the past. Gas was our large limiting issue, and to an extent, it nonetheless is. The boat holds 600 gallons, with 550 of that being usable. Again then, we began off with plastic drums and a hand pump, then we had a 250-gallon aluminum tank with a customized cradle that will sit on the cockpit deck. Now we have now a few ­collapsible ­bladders that we are able to roll up and stow beneath the bridge seats as soon as they’re empty. Issues have ­gotten a lot simpler.

“For me, the perfect a part of the entire journey expertise has all the time been getting there, and seeing every little thing alongside the way in which,” he continues. “We’ve all the time executed this for the journey, and I hope we are able to maintain doing it for some time longer.”

Sharky’s Revenge is prepared when you find yourself.

This text initially appeared within the April/Might difficulty of Marlin.