By Christopher Tobutt
Captain Stephen Ebanks is the Coolest Captain in Cayman according to FishingBooker, a worldwide site which specializes in booking charter fishing excursions. He’s the only charter fishing captain in Cayman to be awarded their prestigious Anglers Choice Award and that’s official.
That’s great news too, not only for Captain Stephen, but for the whole of the Cayman. There are around 50 million people in the US alone who are into sports fishing. That’s a big pie, and the bigger the slice that Cayman is able to get for itself, the better. Top-notch charter professionals like Captain Stephen are really great unofficial ambassadors not only for the fishing charter business, but for the whole of the Cayman Islands, especially as tourism regroups for the post-coronavirus world.
Many charter fishing operations get bookings through their own website, but who knows where to look for a small business they have never heard of? FishingBooker solves that problem by serving 6000 charter fishing guides all over the world, and, until coronavirus disrupted everthing, Captain Stephen got most of his business through them too.
When I met him on his 34 foot SeaVee, a suave white fishing boat with two powerful 300 horsepower Suzuki engines, I could see why he won the award. He is friendly, but also professional, knowledgeable and confident, and that’s a good combination for the world of deep sea fishing. He has plenty of experience, and has been in the business, he said, ever since leaving school more than 10 years ago. “Its in my blood. I’ve grown right into doing it. My uncles – they were all charter captains,” he said.
How much does all that expertise cost? Visitors will pay 850 dollars for half a day’s fishing with him. “When the fish are biting good, you get about four or five wahoos, some mahi mahi and yellowfin tuna, too. You get a mixed variety of fish. It depends on what’s running at the time.” He said. “Basically I try my best. It’s a tough job, and you’ve got to be ‘on point,’ all the time especially when you are dealing with tourists. In a charter business, especially fishing charters you have to make sure that everything (all the equipment) is good, that you find the fish, and you are entertaining the guests at the same time.
“We have a website which is reelvibescharters.com but we also get a lot of bookings through the online site FishingBooker. It’s a really good company, they take care of all their clients,” he said. “A lot of people come, and when you show them great service, they end up booking another charter. Great service really means taking care of your guests. You want to make sure that they catch fish, and you are putting out all your effort for that and entertaining them at the same time.
“If weather permits me, I like to take them fishing around on the 12-mile bank. It’s like an underwater peak that comes up to 80 to 90 feet below the surface.” The water surrounding the bank is about 5 thousand foot of water. A lot of currents pass through there, and it holds a lot of bait fish.”