Outdoors

Charterboat captain chronicles a lifetime of fishing in an entertaining book

Captain Bouncer Smith has had some amazing adventures in his 52 years as a South Florida fishing guide.
Captain Bouncer Smith has had some amazing adventures in his 52 years as a South Florida fishing guide.

Captain Bouncer Smith has had some amazing adventures in his 52 years as a South Florida fishing guide, and fortunately for his many customers, friends and fans, he has written a book about them that is entertaining and informative.

“The Bouncer Smith Chronicles: A Lifetime of Fishing” is currently available on amazon.com. The paperback is $22 and a Kindle version costs $9.50. Books will also be available from the website thebouncersmithchronicles.com, which should be up and running in a few weeks and will feature photos of some of the catches documented by Smith to Patrick Mansell, who transcribed everything Smith recorded.

Books also can be purchased at a book signing that Smith will have June 10 at Shenanigan’s Eastside Pub & Barbecue in Dania Beach. The event begins at 6 p.m. and will feature Smith reading some passages from the book.

Smith said the motivation to write a book came from his sister, Sue Singer, and many of the clients he has taken fishing out of Miami Beach Marina on his boat Bouncer’s Dusky 33.

“Sue has been badgering me for centuries to do a book,” Smith said, “and customers ask me every day, ‘When are you going to write a book?’ So I finally did it. It was a whole lot of fun.”

Smith used a recording app to talk about everything from memorable catches and customers to fish that got away and fishing trips where the boat he was running nearly sank. He would then email the recordings to Mansell.

“I would bang out a piece in 20, 30 minutes, then he would spend all day changing it into English,” Smith said. “I started recording around Thanksgiving and I was done in mid-April. The more I did it, the more excited I was with it. I’m just ecstatic with it.”

In the book, Smith writes that he was hooked on fishing since the first time a fishing rod twitched in his hands. He got his start fishing for bass, sunfish and trout in lakes, ponds and rivers in Michigan. When the company his father worked for in Detroit offered him a position in Miami, which he accepted, Smith quickly fell in love with saltwater fishing. And more than 60 years later, he still loves it.

That love of the sport comes through in so many of the stories in the book. One of my favorite chapters is about some of the challenged youngsters, and their families, who Smith has taken fishing for free. The kids were delighted whether they caught a tarpon or a tiny baitfish, but no one enjoyed those trips more than Smith. Others who learned of Smith’s generosity insisted on funding future trips, providing fishing tackle and even paying for trips to Disney World.

That touching chapter had one reader reach out to Smith.

“One of my longtime customers called me up over the weekend and said, ‘I just finished your book and it is absolutely wonderful, and I want to sponsor a kid.’ There’s nothing more rewarding than when these families that have been so challenged get to have fun for a while,” said Smith, who is putting together a fishing trip just for the siblings of challenged kids.

The book has chapters on sharks, tunas, dolphin, sailfish, kingfish, grouper, tarpon and snook. Along with the stories of incredible catches, like the day Smith’s charter landed three yellowfin tuna double-headers fishing off Miami or his angler who caught a swordfish on a fly rod, there is information on the tackle and tactics that Smith uses to catch those different species. One of his best tips is the benefits of using wire leaders instead of monofilament leaders to catch fish on the flats.

He also includes favorite recipes, including some that he created on the spur of the moment, like when he was given the choice of washing the boat after a trip or preparing dinner with a kingfish that an angler had caught. “I wouldn’t eat kingfish before that,” said Smith, whose impromptu recipe turned out so good, he has been eating kingfish ever since.

Speaking of food, there is a chapter devoted to bananas, which for many anglers, including Smith, are bad luck on a boat. He provides historical background on incidents involving the fruit and boaters as well as slow fishing days that he endured until he discovered a banana, or even Fruit of the Loom underwear, on his boat.

There are a number of misadventures, including times that Smith was impaled by hooks, the angler who turned Smith’s one-piece fly rod into a five-piece rod, running a boat to the Virgin Islands in tropical weather systems and returning to Florida from the Bahamas in 20-foot waves. It all makes for compelling reading that will leave you wanting more.

The good news is that another book is already in the works.

“Since that book was finished, I think I have about 40 new titles for segments in the second book,” Smith said. “Pat already told me to start recording new stories.”

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