But Bar South wasn’t always winning tournaments and sizable checks. Four years ago, Gothier began to put together the ingredients he believed were needed to get the program to the winners circle. He hired Capt. Jim Mulcahy, a Florida Keys native and charter captain, and added other key team members. As the Bar South team prepares for its sixth South Florida sailfish-tournament season, Gothier opened up to Marlin about the team’s success and its plans to repeat this year.
M: The Quest saw stiff competition last year, but you guys came through during the Final Sail. Give me the play-by-play.
We started the season off quickly and took first place in Operation Sailfish, releasing 12 sails and winning more than $157,000. Fishing was slow during the Sailfish 400, and we caught only three fish, finishing in 19th and taking home a daily. We placed third in the Sailfish Challenge and caught 13 to finish fifth at the Final Sail, completing the series with 36 sailfish and a total of 97 points, based on our position in each of the tournaments.
M: What kind of preparation goes into having a season like that?
The team fished together more than 60 days last year for sailfish in South Florida, and then another 30-plus days for marlin up the East Coast. We put effort into the small — but important — details like rigging and solid communication to make sure everything goes right on tournament days. We pride ourselves on having high-quality bait and also make sure to have an assortment of species in case the fish are eating better on small or large bait that particular day.
Where do you guys get your edge?
Our team works extremely hard, and there isn’t a weak link to be found. What makes us dangerous in a tournament is our bite-to-catch ratio, which averages right around 95 to 98 percent. If our numbers are any lower than that as a team, we consider it a complete failure of a tournament or even a practice day. When we have that kind of consistency on the rod, it comes down to making sure we put ourselves in the right spot to produce bites.
M: The right guys on the team?
We just have some really fishy guys. Everyone from Jim [Mulcahy], Justin Miller, Shay Danzig and the rest of the crew are just good fishermen, and we mesh well as a team. We all know our individual roles on the boat and what we need to do. I’m not an overbearing boss by any means, but I look at myself as the quarterback and make sure everyone can do what they need to do to be successful.
M: What advantages does the Spencer give you?
Speed, both in forward and reverse. It’s remarkably agile and backs up quickly for a 60-footer; we released a 400-pound blue marlin in nine minutes during this year’s White Marlin Open. With twin 1,650 hp Caterpillar C32s, it cruises at 37 knots and can push it up to 42 or 43 knots on the pins. When it’s rough during sailfish season and we have 4- to 5-footers, we have the advantage of being a big boat with speed that can pass the center-consoles and beat them to the bite. We just added a Contender 35T with trip Yamahas and a tower to use as a bait boat or a backup in case we can’t fish the big boat during a tournament.
M: What’s the annual schedule for your program?
We fish six to seven tournaments during the year and plan to expand the tournament schedule in the coming years. We’ve fished the White Marlin Open and the MidAtlantic 500 the past two years, in addition to several sailfish tournaments, and did very well in both of those. We have Skip Smith’s tournaments on the radar because his format plays well into our strengths as a team and I enjoy hooking my own fish. I’m hesitant to expand the program too much with too many destinations because of time away from my family, and I don’t see a reason to fish many of the smaller tournaments if there isn’t any money involved.
M: What’s your outlook for this season?
We are due to have another big season. The fish are already showing up in South Florida, and we are excited to get dialed in and back out there doing what we love.