When the tournament’s on the line, Austin Angel is a good choice to be on the rod. From 2011 through 2015, he was the top angler during at least one leg of the highly competitive Los Sueños Signature Triple Crown in Costa Rica, and in 2015, he was the overall top angler for the three-tournament series. As part of the Sea Angel team, he’s won high-profile tournaments from Costa Rica to Mexico, with his brother B.C. Angel as captain of the family’s 63-foot F&S, his father, Greg, and oldest brother Chance as fellow anglers in the cockpit, and his mother, Luanne, affectionately known as “Mamalu,” as the team’s number one cheerleader. When not on the water, Austin Angel pilots an aircraft for the family’s businesses in Baytown, Texas.
M: It’s a family affair, tournament fishing on Sea Angel. What’s that experience like for you?
It’s really a blessing to be able to do what we do as a family. We’re not the most professional team out there — we have a few drinks and listen to music and have fun at it — but we also like the competition of tournament fishing. I’m just thankful that we can share that with so many of our friends, and it’s an honor to fish with the family.
M: What’s your favorite cocktail?
If it’s really hot outside, a Tito’s and orange juice or club soda. After fishing, Flor de Caña and Sprite.
M: Thumbs up or thumbs down: music while you’re fishing?
Absolutely. Got to have music. We listen to either country or rock on the boat, but the secret to winning tournaments is having the perfect playlist.
M: What is your first fishing memory, and where was it?
Sitting on the back of a boat in Boat Harbour in the Bahamas. I was probably about 7 years old, catching sharks at night with my older brothers, B.C. and Chance. We were cutting up ballyhoo for bait and just wailing on the big nurse sharks, one right after another. I also caught my first blue marlin while fishing out of Boat Harbour when I was 12 or 13.
M: You went to Cape Verde and fished with Brad Philipps a few years ago. How was that?
I think it was in 2012. Cape Verde is a long way from Texas! You have to take three or four flights just to get there, but the opportunity to fish on The Hooker was an amazing experience. We’ve known Brad for a while and had a great trip with him. My brother B.C. caught a blue marlin that was 600 or 700 pounds, I caught one over 500, and we saw a grander while we were there. Lots of big fish. I would highly recommend it to anyone fishing for both numbers and large blue marlin. I’ll go back one day soon.
M: How does the fishing compare with the seamounts off Costa Rica?
Our best trip in Costa Rica was catching 40 blue marlin in a day and a half, so the numbers are off the charts. In Cape Verde, though, it just seems like everything is bigger. The water’s 10,000 feet deep when you leave the marina, and there are only about five boats there who are fishing full time. The water’s colder, the ballyhoo are the size of mackerel — even the tuna and wahoo are bigger.
M: How do you celebrate after a big win like the Bisbee’s Black and Blue?
It was a big thrill knowing that you’ve just caught a marlin that might be worth over a million dollars. I enjoyed the experience with some friends, then I went on a few great hunts. And I bought a new boat, a 24-foot Shallow Sport, to fish the redfish tournament circuit.
M: What’s that like?
I’m not a professional, but I like the competition. I started about four years ago, but we travel along the Gulf Coast and fish the tournaments. It’s a lot of fun: You meet people from all over the place who just love to fish.
M: What’s the best way to attract new anglers to big-game fishing?
We have to find ways to take more kids fishing. Most people don’t really understand the ocean until they’ve experienced it for themselves, and then they’re hooked. It can literally be a life-changing experience. I’d love to do a charity trip to take kids out to catch sails in Florida or something like that. Do it on the pre-fish days for a tournament, when you’re going fishing anyway. They’re the ones that end up being the next generation of mates, captains and anglers, but we’ve got to get them on the water first.
M: You’re also a pilot. Do you have any personal goals there?
I want to fly jets. I’ve been flying for about two years and still have a little more training to get a multi-engine certification before moving on to jets. I love it. My ultimate goal would be to fly a Citation.
M: Fill in the blank: If I wasn’t fishing, I’d rather be ____________.
Hunting. All kinds, but my favorite is bowhunting for deer and elk.