National Tom Sawyer Days

Image from
Image from WGEM


This year brought about lots of charters with clients catching lots of fish, having lots of fun and most importantly, lots of good memories. I traveled to Cuba to dive and fish while Vicki visited family in Dallas and Chicago. We traveled to destinations in Europe exploring, snorkeling, diving, boating and fishing. One of my most treasured memories however, is that of returning home to Hannibal, Missouri to visit my family and attend functions surrounding Tom Sawyer Days.

It is no secret that National Tom Sawyer Days is an event steeped in tradition, embodying the characters, thoughts and lore surrounding Hannibal’s favorite son Mark Twain. This year marked the 60th year capturing the innocence and interest tied to the event as much as the much-anticipated crowning of the new Tom and Becky. The thing that made our trip extra special was the fact that our nephew, Rhet Reed (13), was among 5 finalists being considered for this year’s Tom Sawyer.

To my recollection, the month of June has been a celebratory month for Tom Sawyer Days, including a fence-painting contest at Mark Twain’s Boyhood home. This visit re-kindled memories of the past and I agree with Mark Twain that; when one returns home, nothing is as big as one remembers’.  Houses are much smaller, the main streets are narrower and the geographical area of the town is less than I recall. The river harbor (which I considered huge 40 years ago) has docks for only a few small slips for flat bottom fishing boats, runabouts, small cabin cruises and small houseboats. Only the mighty Mississippi River is as big and powerful as I remembered.

Vicki and I were in the thick of things. A full day with our niece, Tara Reed (9), to tour Mark Twain’s historical sights such as, his boyhood home, his fathers law office, the jail and general store. Climbing Cardiff Hill for a view from the world’s only inshore lighthouse over-looking the Mississippi.


Attending a dinner cruise aboard the Mark Twain River Boat with all of the Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher finalists who would continue to audition for the titles while on the cruise. Family and friends, who never left the little river town of Hannibal, enjoyed a delightful evening with food, drink and entertainment while becoming re-acquainted. They included bankers, business owners, tradesmen, contract workers railroad conductors and engineers (just like my father and Rhet’s grandfather, Harry Fisher, who once engineered iron horses on the railroad tracks along the river).

I invited my life-long friend, Don Burroughs and his wife Debbie, to join us on the cruise. Don and I were Boy Scouts together exploring area caves, hillsides, cliffs and river bottoms. He and Debbie are collectors of Mark Twain arts and crafts and we were honored with their presence.

Aboard the vessel, Captain Terry of Hannibal (Owner of the paddle boat) and a graduate of Hannibal Senior High School (just like me), invited me to take the helm. Piloting toward the bridge, my thoughts went back to yesterday; fishing on the riverbank as a young boy, and learning to navigate my first boat (a 16ft. Mark Twain fiberglass tri-hull).

The formal announcement of the winners came July 4 (during the 4th of July Celebrations). Rhet Reed and Molly Broughton became the official 2015 Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. They will represent Hannibal at numerous local, regional, state and even national functions. They will be two of the town’s top tourist attractions, the faces for all that is Mark Twain. Congratulations Rhet and Molly!


This is Captain Terry Fisher of Fish Face Charters hoping that you enjoy this Adventure of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher.

By Captain Terry Fisher

Go Boating Pro Series: Time Stands Still


Old Florida isn’t always a thing of the past. Part of it is just off Channel Marker 60.

One of the great joys of Southwest Florida boating is discovering all the hideaways and hidden gems scattered along the coast and its inland waterways. Every once in a while, you find the mother lode. In our case, it was Tarpon Lodge and Restaurant and nearby Cabbage Key.


The underlying purpose of our trip was a planning meeting/retreat with an important client—incidentally, one of the largest boat manufacturers in the world. We wanted to get away from the distractions of our respective offices and, since boating is our business, why not find a classic boating destination that would help us relax our minds and get re-grounded in the process.

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Tarpon Lodge was a perfect choice since it is secluded and quiet, yet kept the outside world comfortably accessible—little conveniences like WiFi can not be undervalued. The waterfront hotel was built from a vintage lodge originally used as vacation home for a couple from Philadelphia in 1926. The lodge and stilt building are home to relaxing, airy rooms with its four-star, upscale restaurant below serving lunch and dinner daily.


As there is no dedicated meeting facility, the lodge’s resourceful staff created one for us—blocking off part of the restaurant’s patio breezeway where we set up shop for our two days of brainstorming. When the urge to fish overtook us, a quick stroll to the adjacent docks—where our boat was tied up—provided a welcome diversion.

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Having limited luck wetting a line, mouthwatering sustenance was just a short hop away at famed Cabbage Key in the form of the quintessential Cheeseburger in Paradise. It was here tropical storyteller and songwriter Jimmy Buffett was inspired to write the song of the same name decades ago. And not much has changed. If anything, the count of dollar bills blanketing the entire ceiling and walls of the restaurant (estimated at $100K) has increased, but little else—a fitting homage to the “If it ain’t broken…” adage.

The path between Cabbage Key and Tarpon Lodge is home to another piece of living history—a group of stilt fish cabins in Pine island Sound. Built some 80 years ago, the fish cabins — many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places — are a legacy to the area’s past (pre-World War II) when fishermen netted fish by hand and stored their catch in the fish cabins (then fish-company-owned ice houses), where boats later picked up the harvest and carried it to nearby Punta Gorda. They are now owned by various groups and used primarily as getaways for local recreational anglers.


So if life takes you anywhere near channel marker 60 in the Pine Island Sound Intercoastal Waterway, consider yourself lucky. It is home to a cluster of historical gems not commonly found.

The above installment was an account of a meeting retreat between pearl brands and their client, Bayliner Boats. To learn more about pearl brands, visit

The Great Boat Lift of 9/11

GoBoaters, please take a few minutes out of your day to watch this. Incredibly moving story about the heroic efforts of boaters on 9/11.

The Great Boat Lift of 9/11 became the largest sea evacuation . . . in history! Larger than the evacuation of Dunkirk in WWII, where 339,000 British and French soldiers were rescued over the course of 9 days. On 9/11, nearly half a million civilians were rescued from Manhattan by boat. It took less than 9 hours.

Dive In With Chiefy- Lobster Mini Season

Near perfect weather conditions on the ocean for this year’s mini-season, found many divers out on the water in southeast Florida. This year mini-season fell on July 30th & 31st, the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July.


This tradition was started in 1975 allowing only recreational divers to harvest spiny lobster during this two day period before the regular season begins August 6th through March 31st. And in this area of Broward and Palm Beach Counties, we are allowed to catch twice the normal limit of six lobsters during mini-season. So the hunt is on to Catch the BUG!

The Chiefy crew left the dock at 5:30 am and ventured out of the Boca Raton Inlet to a spot in 35 feet of water. The good news is we are only a few hundred feet off shore, well within sight of the coastline. After getting some spiny lobster, we then jumped in to a few spots in 45 feet of water, off of Deerfield Beach and Hillsboro Beach. These were very productive as we finished getting our double limit by 11am.
So the final count for the Chiefy crew was 5 divers catching 60 spiny lobsters. Not a bad day out on the water.



Jim “Chiefy” Mathie is a known lobster slayer for more than 25 years and author of “Catching the Bug, The Comprehensive Guide to Catching the Florida Spiny Lobster.” Jim was given his Chiefy nickname by his dive buddies while spear fishing off South Florida in 2004 after he encountered and survived a shark frenzy witnessed by his friends. Later that evening, for entertainment, they watched “Jaws.” During the movie, boat captain Robert Shaw, who later gets eaten by the Great White, nicknames Police Chief Roy Scheider Chiefy. It is Chiefy who ends up killing the shark. At the time, Jim was a fire chief, so a new Chiefy legend began. The web site was established to showcase numerous Chiefy adventures, keeping the legend alive!