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Players: Jr. Davis

The multiple tournament winner emphasizes the fun and ­camaraderie of competitive fishing

March 22, 2016
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*Wave Paver* owner enjoys the run back to port from the bridge.
Jr. Davis enjoys the run back to port after a long day of tournament fishing in the Caribbean. Debra Todd

Family, Friends and Fun

Jr. Davis and his Wave Paver team are formidable ­competitors, with a proven track record in tournaments on the East Coast, the Bahamas and St. Thomas. When he’s not spending time with family or running his heavy highway construction business, Davis can probably be found in the cockpit of Wave Paver, his 61-foot Garlington, somewhere in the Caribbean. In 2015, the team fished a total of 11 events from South Florida to the Bahamas and St. Thomas, with a similar schedule planned this season. Rather than get burned out from the grind of competition, Davis thrives on it and looks forward to each event as a welcome challenge. And more often than not, his team has proven their ability to not just fish hard but emerge victorious as well.

What led you to fishing in your first tournament, and where was it?

I’d fished for a long time before I was invited to fish my first tournament over at Green Turtle in the Bahamas. I had a great time, so I fished a few more tournaments aboard charter boats before the timing was right and I bought my own boat. I really enjoy the fishing and the camaraderie. No matter if you’re in the Bahamas, St. Thomas, or Ocean City [Maryland], there’s a great group of people who fish a lot of the same tournaments. It’s always nice to see them on the docks.

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Of all the tournaments you’ve fished over the years, which ones stand out the most?

Well, we fished against some great teams and won the ­inaugural Abaco Beach Invitational in 2013. We then headed to St. Thomas later that year and won both Top Boat and Top Angler in the Boy Scout, which is a very tough thing to do. The Boy Scout the following year was also a very memorable time for us because my son [Steve Davis] won Top Angler. We also won the Custom Shootout twice and the first Custom vs. Production Shootout — it’s fun to win the first one, and Skip Smith does a phenomenal job with all his events. Last year was also fun for us because we won the July Open in St. Thomas — I think it was their 52nd anniversary — by a good margin.

Wave Paver maneuvers on an acrobatic blue marlin.
Wave Paver maneuvers on an acrobatic blue marlin off the Bahamas during the Custom Shootout. Debra Todd

Any particular reasons you can point to for your success over the years?

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We fish hard, and we take it seriously, but we’re also going to have fun. When it stops being fun, there’s no reason to be there. All the guys on the team enjoy being around each other, and we all really love to fish. At the end of the day, we’re going to accept the outcome and always have a good time. That attitude takes a lot of the stress out of tournament fishing. You’re not always going to win, and it can be a little frustrating when you’re not getting the bites and everyone around you is. My crew does a great job, and that starts with my captain, Russell Sinclair. From the time we step on the boat until it’s time to leave, those guys put in a tremendous amount of effort into making sure it’s always fun for my family and me, and that means a lot.

We recently featured the renderings for the new Wave Paver. What’s the build process been like for you?

We’re building a 77-foot Bayliss right now, and she’ll have a four-stateroom, 4½-head layout, We started her in spring 2015, and she should be done by the end of 2017. We like the boat we have now, but we’ve just outgrown her. Between the kids, the grandkids and the crew when we’re traveling, it doesn’t take long to have a full house. John builds a great boat. I’ve always liked the looks and the performance of his builds. I decided if I ever wanted to build one from the start, he would be the one to do it. The craftsmanship and expertise at Bayliss is terrific. My crew has been heavily involved, so we’re all having a lot of fun with the build.

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A lot of crews have their own lucky rituals or superstitions, especially in tournament fishing. Any of that on Wave Paver?

Not really. Everyone says bananas are bad luck, but we eat them every day because, well, we all like bananas. We might do a celebratory shot of something from time to time or pass around a beer, but for the most part, we don’t do much. Just a little prayer for safety when we leave in the morning and one for thanks when we get back, and we enjoy every minute in between.

Davis and his team are a threat in any tournament but they also have fun along the way, enjoying the dockside camaraderie.
Jr. Davis and his team are a threat in any tournament but they also have fun along the way, enjoying the dockside camaraderie. Debra Todd

Any advice for new tournament anglers?

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If you love to fish, then you’ll enjoy tournaments. If you’re not crazy about it, then tournaments won’t change that. One of the benefits of fishing in tournaments is that it makes you commit to fishing certain dates in specific places. That commitment to the tournament helps keep other things from getting in the way that might tempt you to postpone your trip. There’s a lot of fun to be had during the tournaments, and you’ll get to know a great group of people. I’d say give it a shot, fish with some friends and see if you like it.

The team has won tournaments in destinations including the Bahamas and St. Thomas, among many others.
The team has won tournaments in destinations including the Bahamas and St. Thomas, among many others. Debra Todd

What are some of your favorite destinations?

It’s hard to beat the U.S. and British Virgin Islands for blue marlin. They’re both really pretty places; from June through September when the fishing is good, it can be really good. We’ve also had some good trips to the Dominican Republic, and marlin fishing in the Bahamas can be great during early spring when the conditions are right.

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