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“Just me and two young crew members,
who I was teaching the basics of offshore
fishing aboard my SeaPro 27,” he says
of his 17-year-old boat rigged with twin
225-hp Mercury outboards.
Campos began his saltwater life at
an early age. His father, Joaquin, was the
first outboard-engine dealer in Puerto
Rico. The patriarch had a mahogany
boat and would take his son out to fish.
He used the opportunity to show off the
new Johnson and Evinrude outboards to
“We used to go out fishing for snappers, and my job was to cut up the bait,”
Campos recalls. He was soon hooked for
life by a hobby he turned into a career.
The secret to sustained success at fishing, he says, is simple: patience.
“In fishing, you have to be patient,
along with persistent and perseverant,”
he says. “The ocean is not like a stream
full of fish where you just throw a hook.
Here in Puerto Rico, all our fishing
is done trolling, with no live bait and
watching what is around us. Watching
the birds and floating debris, that’s what
makes a good captain.”
This good captain turned
84 in October, and with that
maturity came other trophies:
arthritis and a right knee
“You name it, I got it, but
I still go out, at least one five-or six-hour trip each week,”
he says. The physical toll his
passion has taken on his body
has plenty to do with the old-school ways he does it.
“I fish with my hands, left hand on the
reel with a glove, and bare right hand on
the handle. I lean against a fighting chair,
with no footrest, bolted to the cockpit
with a kidney harness. I use my feet, with
one foot on the rail,” he says. “I used to
do a lot of stand-up fishing, but now with
my back, no way, Jose.”
He used to earn his keep as a charter-
boat captain but now focuses on taking
young men out who want to crew on big
“I like to teach. In fact, I helped make
23 sportfishing captains,” he says. “It’s
the legacy of my life.”
That, along with serving as an early
advocate of catch-and-release
in his native land.
“Back in the 1960s, we used
to throw 20 to 30 tunas to
the sharks after fishing and
have 120 blue marlins hung up
after a tournament so the press
could take pictures,” he says.
“We are running out of fish.”
Campos became chair-
man of the Caribbean Fishing
“With iPhones, now instead of killing
a fish, you can take a picture of it and
release it. I love it,” he says.
Looking back, Campos sees clearly
how he followed his life’s path, and his
“I believe it’s something that people
are born with – you’re either agricultural
people or mariners. That goes back thousands of years,” he says. “It’s something
inside of you that makes you go out to
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