The following profile on RFA New England Regional Director, noted writer and Maine charter captain Barry Gibson was published in the August 2012 edition of Making Waves and was written by Gary Caputi.
Since retiring from his long-held position as editor of Salt Water Sportsman magazine, the country’s oldest and most prominent saltwater fishing periodical, the RFA has been blessed to have Barry Gibson on staff as its New England Regional Director.
A native of Massachusetts who moved permanently to Maine in 2005, Gibson has an extensive background as a well-traveled angler, light tackle guide, charter captain, writer and editor. He has been fishing for-hire out of BoothbayHarbor since 1971, when he bought his first charterboat and named it the Sasanoa. Since then he has owned a succession of boats, all named Shark as a tribute to Joe Russell, a Key West charter captain who guided Ernest Hemingway from his boat of the same name. Barry met and fished with Russell in 1967.
Gibson spend much of his chartering career catching groundfish, sharks and giant bluefin tuna offshore from his cutting-edge, 36’ Downeast sportfisherman, the Shark IV, built in 1993. He sold it in 2005 and purchased a 24’ center console to refocus his expertise on light tackle inshore fishing. With a great deal of his time spent running the editorial side of Salt Water Sportsman and living between the magazine’s headquarters in Boston and his home in East Boothbay, he had less time to devote to charter fishing. In 2008 he purchased a 28’ Whitewater center console, which he fishes today in Maine’s beautiful Sheepscot/Kennebc River systems, adjacent bays and offshore waters from June through October taking a select clientele out for striped bass, bluefish and bluefin tuna.
A Life Spent Writing, Reporting & Representing
He worked for Salt Water Sportsman for 27 years initially under the iconic leadership and tutelage of Hal Lyman and Frank Woolner, the magazines founders. After five years he was promoted to editor, a position he held for 23 years. His dedication to excellence was in strong part responsible for the publication’s incredible growth and the development of a loyal readership. While there he penned hundreds of articles that appeared in its pages and gained an enviable reputation with the writers who work with him. In addition his writing has appeared in numerous outdoor magazine including Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, Yachting, MotorBoating, Offshore, Tide, the Fisherman, Striped Bass, Fishing Facts, Striper and Sports Illustrated.
After leaving Salt Water Sportsman Barry served as editor of Center Console Angler and associate publisher of Fish Boats Registry magazines, and has been the saltwater columnist for Maine Sportsman since 1985. He has appeared on numerous television shows including Fishing New England; Mark Sosin’s Saltwater Journal; On the Hook and George Poveromo’s World of Saltwater Fishing. He is a frequent guest speaker at outdoor clubs and fishermen’s associations in the off-season and co-hosts the New England installment of the Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series.
Barry also serves as a vice-president of the Northeast Charterboat Captains Association (which he co-founded in 1988) and is the chairman of the Saltwater Fishing Committee for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. In addition he’s an NRA-certified pistol instructor, a member of the Boothbay Port Committee, an avid collector of antique fishing tackle, and when he has to get away from it all he retreats to the Rangeley Lake region of Maine to fly fish for trout.
A Sea Change For Recreational Anglers
A long-time proponent of responsible fishery management, Gibson served on the Advisory Committee for the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) back in the early 1980’s, and in 1986 was appointed to the New England Fishery Management Council, on which he served for nine years. During his tenure on the Council he was particularly active in cod, haddock, and flounder management, and served four years as chairman of the Groundfish Committee. “The early 90’s were pretty dismal days,” he recalls. “The cod had started to collapse, and we knew we had to cut back on catches, but many in the commercial fishing industry were still making good money and didn’t want to give up any fish. It was a difficult time, but we got through it.”
In 1998, two years after his Council term expired, Gibson was appointed chairman of the Council’s newly-formed Recreational Advisory Committee, a position he continues to hold today. “We advise the council on recreational measures,” he explained. “We often have to make some tough decisions as to how we (the recreational sector) will reduce mortality to meet stock rebuilding targets, but it’s much better for our committee of charter captains and anglers to make these decisions rather than to leave it to the Council. Many Council members don’t really understand the recreational side, so our input is important.” Gibson says he has really enjoyed his relationship with the RFA for the past seven years.
“One of the great things about being an RFA representative at fishery meetings is that everyone knows exactly where I’m coming from. They may not all agree with me, but they know my agenda. I’m an advocate for the recreational sector, and I‘m always pushing to make sure that sport fishermen get full and appropriate access to our fishery resources, which is RFA’s mission as well. Everyone in New England knows I’m a conservationist, but they also know that I won’t roll over and accept restrictive measures that aren’t based on good science.”
Gibson also says that having a national organization behind him is extremely helpful. “I feel I have some real horsepower behind me when I testify at meetings or write letters to fishery officials or members of congress. RFA’s thousands of members, along with our recreational fishing industry supporters, combine to deliver a lot of clout. Our testimony gets listened to and carefully considered. That’s what it’s all about.”
Read this story and more in the August 2012 edition of Making Waves exclusively from the Recreational Fishing Alliance.