Start Me Up

Owner/ Skipper: Doug Armfield
Boat: Bertram 37, 42' length overall
Power: Yanmar 350hp diesels
Top Speed: 26 knots
Crusing Speed: 22 knots
Amenities: Everything, including the kitchen sink.

Fishing Gear: Full complement of Penn Internationals from 20 lb to 130 lb. All 2 speed reels on Fenwick rods. Multiple stick gaffs, flying gaffs, nets, lures, baits, and all the gear you need for fishing Hawaiian style. No corners cut. All gear is kept in perfect condition, right down to constant scale testing of all drags.

Relaxed Intensity. Though oxymoronic, it’s the best way to describe the attitude on board this fish raising machine. Sportfish Hawaii had the opportunity to fish in a tournament with team Start Me Up, and while the mood was intense throughout the majority of the three days we spent with Doug and Jimmy, it was clear they were having the times of their lives. In fact, the day after we caught the fish that placed us third in the tournament and another non-qualifying Ahi that weighed 156 pounds, Jimmy was a little distracted because we didn’t go fishing. And they do this for a living.       

Voracious Strike Boat, Impeccably Maintained. From the wash-down of the boat the previous night to the constant tinkering with the equipment, it’s clear every detail of the thought process on board is geared for the strike of a lifetime; something that can happen at any time while fishing Hawaiian waters. Double lines are continually retied when the slightest sign of weakness is detected. Leaders are changed on the lure heads regularly, and specific types of hooks are used for well thought-out reasons. Bait needles and rigs are ready to go. Hooks are constantly evaluated and sharpened. Bait hooks are barbless to reduce trauma and preserve the bait’s effective life. In order to properly care for fish, coolers are filled with ice daily, and despite the loss of a little space in the salon, a freezer capable of carrying 160 more pounds of ice is bolted to the floor. Fishing accessories like gaffs and washdown hoses are located in convenient areas. The deck is uncluttered. Oil is changed religiously and the bilge is spotless, touting more the appearance of a private yacht than a charter boat.

Enthusiastic Professionalism. Through all the maintenance and the fact that they run some 280 - 300 days a year, smiles remain on their faces. Doug takes calls on the cell phone with dignity and poise as he scans the horizon for signs of fish. Jimmy offers the charter another drink or demonstrates things to look for while searching for fish. And they’re sincere. They teach, they educate, and they truly love to show people what they do for a living and how proud they are of it.

Teamwork and Mental Telepathy. Doug and Jimmy practically read each other’s mind. While working an area in search of live bait during one day of the tournament, it became clear the bait didn’t want to come and play. So just as Doug made the call below to switch to trolling lures, Jimmy already had two rods rigged up and ready to deploy. On another day when the bait did cooperate, Jimmy rigged the bait while bracing himself against the cockpit side as Doug put the boat up on plane to run in deeper water. Not a word was spoken, and in less than a minute of hooking the bait on the ledge, it was rigged, on the rod, up on the outrigger and being trolled in deep water.

But teamwork doesn’t mean anything in the preparation phase of fishing if it’s not followed up with action on the strike. It is here their experience and teamwork pays off, and this is more evident as the fish get larger. Constantly encouraging the angler as he or she sits in the chair, Doug and Jimmy both help ease the strain by positioning the boat and coaching on good technique. The chair and harness are fitted to the angler prior to the strike so maximum force can be exerted on the fish without too much fatigue. And when the fish comes next to the boat, necessary steps to take or release the fish are made in the blink of an eye, and in perfect harmony. As Doug says, "We pride ourselves on catching the fish that by all accounts we never should have."

Unbridled Optimism. Most anyone can put on a good act for a day, but personalities truly begin to manifest themselves during the grind of a three day tournament. Doug knows Hawaii has a few issues to address in the world of fishery management, and as he puts it, "Some people in the know unfortunately choose alternate fishing destinations over Hawaii because of some perceptions about what is done with our fish, especially Marlin. That’s why on this boat, we’ll send back any fish an angler requests be released. And unlike some other boats, we’ll also do it with a smile because we know our customers are the ones that pay our bills and we want them to come back." He’s a realist, though, and he does disagree with some who say there is no reason to ever take a Billfish. Having caught and released their share of Marlin, Doug and Jimmy know the difference between a healthy fish and one that will not survive, and if, in their professional opinion, they feel a fish should be taken in order to avoid waste, they’ll do it. Otherwise, the customer dictates the outcome. 

Tournament Ready. Start Me Up has done very well in tournaments, and most of the time when they fish without a charter they practice tournament technique. Doug has won the legendary Hawaiian Invitational Billfish Tournament (HIBT) in Kona, and has placed in the money in several big tournaments over the years, both as crew and as a skipper. 

Sportfish Hawaii is proud to represent Start Me Up in our fleet of high class charter boats. Please call toll free 877-388-1376 or email kathy@sportfishhawaii.com to book your trip.