Richard DeMarte is an old salt—at only 15-years old.
It's not unusual for professional anglers to be sponsored by gear manufacturers and boat companies. But typically those anglers aren't 15-years old. Meet Richard DeMarte.
DeMarte has caught and tagged more than 550 striped bass.
Like many pros, this fisherman represents his clan's third-generation of piscatorial pursuers. He has become most noted for being a striped-bass sharpie on his home waters of New York's western Long Island Sound, and he's a big proponent of tag-and-release fishing. In fact, this young man has already tagged more than 550 stripers in the name of science. (If you're jealous, take a number.)
At about three years old, DeMarte was chasing snappers (juvenile bluefish), but while the small blues got him interested in the sport, his defining angling moment came in August of 2003. After snagging a live bunker (a.k.a. menhaden), DeMarte sent the bait down into the depths hoping for something a little larger. His bait got nervous, there was a bite, and he set the hook on a formidable foe. A long battle ensued between the then nine-year-old angler and one determined striped bass. The tug of war ended in a score of newbie angler one and 27-plus-pound striper zero. DeMarte says that after that fish he was "hooked." (He also caught a potential small-fry world record 1812-pound bluefish when he was 11. It topped the existing record by about three pounds. Unfortunately, he never submitted his catch.)
DeMarte began a mission of tagging, taking measurements, and recording data on every fish he caught. That's a lot fish when you consider that this fisherman is on the water from 120 to 150 days per year.
In addition to his angling efforts in the name of conservation, he also started sharing his passion with friends. "I truly enjoy introducing my friends and other new fishermen to the art of striper fishing and watching their faces when they land what is often the biggest fish they've ever caught," says an enthusiastic DeMarte.
It's this angler's obvious passion—and a wicked ability to catch lots of fish—that have led him to being named to the pro staff of companies like Sufix (fishing line), Shakespeare (rods), Sea Fox (boats), and Costa Del Mar (sunglasses), to name a few.
His pro status came about when local publications began reporting on DeMarte's rod-and-reel exploits. Soon he was being recognized while walking around trade shows. His father Joe says that Richard was at one show a few years ago and the Sufix representative noticed him. The rep suggested that the personable young fisherman should consider being a "junior pro" for Sufix. In exchange, he'd work the company's booth at area shows. The sponsorship ball has been rolling ever since. DeMarte has even penned articles for the publications that first wrote about him.
He has also managed to parlay his angling accomplishments into cash for college. DeMarte was recently awarded a $5,000 scholarship by the Kids All-American Fishing (KAAF) Team. He was one of six of the country's best and brightest young anglers to receive the award last year after submitting an application and going through a stringent approval process, which in addition to his fishing prowess, took into account his honor-roll status and his active role as a community volunteer.
As if that's not enough, this angler even started his own fishing Web site, www.nyctfishing.com. Its focus is, naturally, the waters in western Long Island Sound. On it, DeMarte offers visitors local fishing reports, a large photo gallery, links for navigational information, charter boats, weather data, and of course, to his growing library of articles.
As I write this, DeMarte was headed to Florida to chase snook and tarpon. And if he catches them like he does striped bass, this angler should prepare to add a few more logos to his shirts and hats.
This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.