The Madam and The Hooker: Jerry Dunaway Stories from the Crew

In tribute to the passing of a legend, former members of The Madam and The Hooker crew spin their top tales.

The Madam and The Hooker Crew
Former crew members of The Madam and The Hooker.Courtesy

What's your favorite Jerry Dunaway Story?

The Madam and The Hooker Jerry Dunaway Stories
Jeff Fay CaptiainCourtesy Brett Fay

What impressed me the most about Jerry was that he always did what he said he was going to do. Jerry was definitely a man of his word; in fact, he’s the only other person other than myself that I’ve ever worked for. We were partners in my boat for a few years. If he said we were going fishing someplace, you can believe that we were going. We caught Jerry his first blue marlin ever, right here in Hawaii in the 1970s — he was really tickled to finally catch that first one. We also caught Jerry his first Atlantic blue marlin off Belize in 1980. Jerry just loved to fish. That made him happy.

The Madam and The Hooker Jerry Dunaway Stories
John Cochrane Engineer, Backup Captain and DeckhandCourtesy John Cochrane

Jerry’s record for the first blue marlin ever caught on 4-pound-test line is one of my favorites. Fishing ultralight tackle can be very frustrating — Jerry had been chasing the vacant 4-pound-test Atlantic blue marlin record, and by my last count, he was 0 for 36. We ended up on the island of São Nicolau in Cape Verde with a hot blue marlin bite. With only 1 pound of drag, a blue marlin can really have its way with an angler, but on that day in 1988, Jerry (and the marlin) did everything right. The fish weighed 93.6 pounds.

The Madam and The Hooker Jerry Dunaway Stories
Skip Smith CaptainCourtesy Debra Todd Photography

My favorite Jerry story isn’t one where he was battling a giant marlin — it was his passion for fishing. When Jerry would fight a record fish for many hours on end only to see it get away, he never got down or dejected. He would just say, “We’ll get the next one!” That was a secret to his success, staying positive all the time. His greatest contribution to the sport was not only sharing his boats with everyone, but also in the way he managed them. From booking charters to making sure he shipped all of the parts to keep everything running smoothly, that was a full-time job in itself.

The Madam and The Hooker Jerry Dunaway Stories
Randy Baker Deckhand and CaptainCourtesy Randy Baker

Jerry was chasing the men’s blue marlin record on 16-pound-test in the mid-1990s out of Flamingo, Costa Rica. We raised a nice 600-pounder on the right short teaser, and Jerry pitched the bait. The marlin switched over to the left teaser, and as he walked the bait across the transom, the fish ate his bait in a hard going-away bite. As he tried to lower the rod tip to the fish, Jerry dropped the entire rod overboard. In the salon on the ride home, Jerry said, “I bet I spent over a million dollars to get that bite, and I dropped the damn rod.”