Growing up in the Florida Panhandle, all Myles Colley wanted to do was fish. When he was a teenager, his parents used to drop him off at the piers in Pensacola or Navarre Beach, where he and his friends chased king mackerel, cobia and whatever else happened to swim past. That passion led Myles to a series of freelance deckhand jobs, first on local charter boats before moving on to private vessels. Colley now runs the Hatteras 63GT, Born2Run, for Dana and Lisa Foster, and he was The Billfish Foundation’s Top Tagging Captain in the Gulf of Mexico in 2015. He lives in Pensacola, Florida, with his wife, Claudine, 18-year-old daughter, Alyx, and 11-year-old son, Myles.
M: You were just 23 years old when you had your first captain’s job. What was that like?
That was on Black Gold, which was owned by a local guy here in Pensacola. It was in April 2000, and I was way too young to be a captain. It’s a huge responsibility, in terms of the people and the boats you’re on. But I took advantage of the opportunity, and I learned a lot. It’s hard to believe that was 16 years ago.
M: Live-baiting has become really popular in the last few seasons for blue marlin in the Gulf of Mexico. What’s your setup look like?
We usually run three lines: one flat line and two from the riggers. We keep it simple, no teasers or anything else in the water. Our leaders range from 200- to 400-pound-test depending on the size of the bait, and the size of our hooks are also matched to the bait. The 19/0 Eagle Claw is our standard size, but we’ll go down to a 16/0 or up to a 22/0 as needed based on the bait.
M: If you had to pick one bait, what would it be?
My first choice would be a live yellowfin tuna. They’re hardy and stay alive for a long time in the tuna tubes, and they also get bit by blue marlin really well too. My second pick would be a skipjack or pretty much any other small tuna we can catch out there. They’re smaller and tend to get bites from trash fish like sharks or barracuda, but they also can produce bites from marlin.
M: What about lure fishing, any tips there?
We like to pitch-bait, so we build our spread around two dredges — usually a mudflap and a flap-and-squid combo. We then run a couple of big lure teasers from the bridge, like the Black Bart Breakfast. We’ll pull Wide Ranges with single hooks on the short riggers and Pakulas on the longs, then pitch a Spanish mackerel to any blues that show up. When the white marlin are around, we’ll switch out the lure teasers for squid chains on the bridge and pitch a ballyhoo with a small chugger and a circle hook.
M: Any favorite lure colors?
We like the darker colors. We run a lot of black-and-purple, black-and-blue, black-and-green lures. I don’t know why, but they seem to produce bites for us.
M: You were running Reel Worthless when the boat owner, Johnny Johnson, passed away unexpectedly. What was that experience like?
It was in 2014. We were having a great season — we had won the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic that summer. We had some good years together and were building a new Viking. Johnny was a good friend, and his loss hit us all hard.
M: You’ve had some great days on the water. Any that stand out?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one, but my favorite time is fun-fishing in the fall. Most boats in the Gulf have stopped fishing for the season, but we’re still going. The weather is pretty, it’s a little cooler and the fishing is great. We’ve had some days when you can get bites from nine blue marlin and catch three or four, plus some big tunas during that time. Sometimes you’ll get a double with a blue and a big yellowfin at the same time. Those are fun days.
M: What’s your favorite international billfishing destination?
Los Sueños, Costa Rica, is hard to beat. I haven’t been there for the seamount trips yet, but the sailfishing is a lot of fun just because you get so many shots at fish. I also want to go to Nova Scotia for giant bluefin tuna season. I love seeing the bite, and to have those big tuna chewing right behind the boat has to be an incredible sight. I’m looking forward to it.
M: you’re also involved with your kids’ athletics. How does that balance with being a professional captain?
I have coached my son’s baseball and football teams and my daughter’s softball team. I love it — it’s very rewarding to see them involved with sports at that level.
M: Any other hobbies?
I like duck and deer hunting. Spending as much time as I can with my family. And fishing. Let’s go fishing.