Fishing Jupiter, FL, USA:
Captain Roddy Hays
Roddy Hays is an English captain who is best known for first introducing the big-game world to the giant blue-marlin of Madeira, and then as the man responsible for opening up Midway Atoll to the world’s travelling anglers. But like most good stories, there’s a beginning to it all as well.
Born in London but brought up in the UK’s Channel Islands, Roddy spent much of his youth at sea aboard family and friends’ boats before buying a very old 14’ dory at the age of 14 – the first of a long line of commands. After school, college years were spent studying journalism, but the lure of saltwater was too much and he soon went back to sea, crewing aboard various charter and commercial boats around the Channel Islands, which are well known for their rocky and tidal waters. Roddy says his upbringing in these dangerous waters taught him a great deal, and left him well-equipped to face a life-long fascination with the ocean and its inhabitants.
A chance holiday in Capetown, South Africa, during the late ‘70’s introduced Roddy to blue-water fish, and he crewed for two seasons for Charlie Day aboard the legendary BLUEFIN out of Simonstown, chasing albacore and yellowfin. Turning down an opportunity to run a boat there, Roddy returned to the UK and settled into a career taking UK and French anglers into the English Channel - chasing cod, conger and pollack on the deepwater wrecks that litter the Channel seabed. The island of Alderney, where Roddy lived, is also well-known for its inshore fishing, and Roddy became adept at hunting the silver bass and commercially important flatfish that are abundant on the banks around the rocky islets.
Clocking up thousands of hours with paying anglers and spending time commercially fishing with net, pot and long-line, Roddy never lost sight of the blue-water he had come to love in South Africa, and in 1989 he took a 33’ single-engined boat from the UK to Madeira, mainly on the advice of Trevor Housby, one of the UK’s and Europe’s most well-know big-game journalists. Initially, Roddy was intending to cater to the important tourism industry of Madeira by concentrating on the big-eye tuna and shark fisheries prevalent off the island. But before his first season in 1990 was fully out, Capt Roddy and his anglers had become only too aware that other beasts prowled the summer waters by the steep cliffs – huge Atlantic blue marlin. Indeed, within two years, Roddy had come to terms with the skills needed to tame the big billfish, and had added not just lever-drag reels and modern marlin techniques to his repertoire, but also a second boat - the 35’ MARGARITA, a Maine Coaster from Henriques.
From 1992 – 1996, Roddy gradually exceptionally proficient at catching Madeira’s big blues, and when the USA’s Stewart Campbell and the French adventurer Jean-Paul Ricard came to Funchal with their boats in 1994, Roddy finally resolved one of the last hurdles of his personal blue marlin technique with the guidance of Campbell’s captain, Bark Garnsey. Indeed, 1994 was a year to remember for Madeira’s grander-class blue marlin, and many milestones were set in Madeira’s sunny blue waters. Along the way, Roddy guided Tracy Melton to the first IGFA recognized 1000 lb fish, and added many more huge fish to his own personal tally. By the time Roddy and his wife Susan left the island in 1996, Roddy had released hundreds of Madeiran marlin, with over 20 fish in the books called 1000lbs plus. His three-boat operation was booked for five years in advance, and he was a representative for the IGFA, a position he was to hold in Madeira, the Caribbean, Midway, France, New Zealand, the UK and then as a free roving rep !
Initially returning to his beloved Channel Islands for the birth of their forthcoming daughter, Roddy was soon seduced into managing a brand new operation on Midway Atoll, 1800 miles north-west of Honolulu. Untouched for 150 years, the fishing around the atoll was nothing short of amazing, and during Roddy’s opening season there, several world records were set as they explored the virgin fishery. Due to a political and technical hitch, Roddy’s family were unable to join him as permanent residents, and as a result Roddy left the operation at the end of the first season and sadly returned home.
By 1997, Roddy had itchy feet again, and saw an opportunity to open up a new fishery on the island of Anguilla, in the Caribbean. Finding a 38’ Henriques in New Jersey, Roddy brought it down to the islands and started fishing there in Feb 1998. Unfortunately, logistics and local resources proved a problem, not least the question of fuel - diesel which ultimately proved to be so dirty and unreliable that the re-fuelling entailed going to St Marteen every four days in season. Insurance demands for hurricane haul-out also proved to be impossible to run a business by, and so by the end of 1999, Roddy sold the boat back to the USA and moved back to the UK, which was a shame as the fishing around Anguilla was exceptional at times.
1999 saw Roddy running the SHANGHAI for Jo Franks in Faial, Azores. Despite a relatively poor season for the islands, the boat ended on a high with a string of big fish, including at least one 1000lb class fish.
From 2000 to 2004, Roddy then turned his attention to La Gomera in the Canary Islands, west of the Sahara, and ran a 44’ Striker for its two British owners. The Canaries are rich in blue marlin and along the way Capt Roddy managed to squeeze in four spearfish world records for his owners, and a 20lb class big-eye record for women.
After that, Roddy ran a 40’ Cabo in the Caribbean for a season, fishing Antigua, St Marteen, St Thomas and Bermuda along the way, winning a tournament and refining his skills.
During the last two decades, Roddy has also represented Great Britain at four big-game World Championships, written for several fishing magazines and websites, and featured in a handful of films and videos.
Since 2004, Roddy has concentrated on developing Legend Lures and his range of tackle - including the Hays Handle, Hays hooks, and the revolutionary Pro-Range series of big-game lures.
He currently lives In Jupiter, FL, with his wife and five children.