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Charles Sheldon: A Saga of Family Fishing

Charles Sheldon remembers fishing TIFT for the first time when he was around 14 or 15 years old. 

“Thinking back, I can’t believe we actually got that tarpon in the boat. Something happened to the reel where it wouldn’t crank anymore, so my dad’s friend started wrapping the line around the reel manually, getting the tarpon closer and closer to the boat. That was the 17th annual TIFT. So much has happened since then.”

Charles Sheldon was born and raised in Donna, Texas and now lives in Port Isabel. He has entered the tournament every year since first fishing it with his dad during the 17th annual TIFT. How many years has he been a registered participant? You do the math. “It’s always been about family. My parents got me into fishing and I got my family into fishing. You have your own family and then you have your TIFT family.”

Sheldon has fished on his own boat during the tournament, but has 20 years worth of great memories as the captain on Mr. Napp’s boat, with David Tubb as his deckhand (or “More like assistant captain,” according to Sheldon). 

Sheldon and Tubbs were on the boat the day Mr. Napp reeled in the catch of a lifetime. 

During the first fishing day of TIFT in 2010, Sheldon, his crew, and his anglers were trolling about 55 miles offshore when a marlin struck the lure. The fish took out a lot of line, and no matter how often Sheldon backed up the boat, that fish just didn’t seem to be getting any closer. Every time Tubbs would get a hold of the leader, the fish would swim off hard and take line back out.  

“Mr. Napp didn’t like that very much.” Sheldon added.

Luckily, the marlin was getting as worn out as angler Mr. Napp was, and after almost three hours, the crew got the 670-pound fish into the boat. “An 86 year old man landing a 670 pound fish is pretty impressive. He received a standing ovation at the awards ceremony.” 

Over the course of 63 years, Sheldon has been an angler, a captain, an advisory board member, an executive board member, and even TIFT President. “I was honored to be on the TIFT executive board for 31 years, with a lot of great people. My favorite thing about TIFT is seeing the people. We’re coming up on the 80th annual – that’s a long time. A lot of people have come and gone – but a lot of people are still around.” 

“Back in the day, we used to all fish really close to each other. It was always fun hearing all the chatter on the radio – my dad would always tell jokes to all the other captains on the radio.”

When I asked Sheldon what jokes his dad would tell, he answered, “Oh, I can’t tell you that.”

Uh oh.

No dirty jokes made it into this article, but Sheldon’s motto for fishing TIFT and fishing in general is the best I’ve heard yet: “We can’t all go out and catch the biggest fish, but we can all go out there and have fun.” 
 


 

 

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PHOTO: During the first fishing day of TIFT in 2010, Sheldon, his crew, and his anglers were trolling about 55 miles offshore when a marlin struck the lure. The fish took out a lot of line, and no matter how often Sheldon backed up the boat, that fish just didn’t seem to be getting any closer. Every time deckhand David Tubbs would get a hold of the leader, the fish would swim off hard and take line back out. After almost three hours, the angler and crew got the 670-pound fish into the boat. "An 86 year old man landing a 670 pound fish is pretty impressive. He received a standing ovation at the awards ceremony." 

 


PHOTO: Charles Sheldon remembers fishing TIFT for the first time when he was around 14 or 15 years old. "Thinking back, I can’t believe we actually got that tarpon in the boat. Something happened to the reel where it wouldn’t crank anymore, so my dad's friend started wrapping the line around the reel manually, getting the tarpon closer and closer to the boat. That was the 17th annual TIFT. So much has happened since then."

 


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