Confessions of a Surf Fisherman
In the words of local expert Manny Briceno, “Sometimes you win. More often the fish win. Beautiful, no?”
The excitement of surf fishing is luring Briceno away from a life in real estate. Now he spends as many days as he can on the beach and behind the counter of his bait shop.
It was the phone call I’d been waiting for: “Meet me at my house and we can fish for pompano from South Beach.”
The call was from Manny Briceno, the former Vero Beach-based real estate agent turned full-time fisherman and the holder of the unofficial world record for pompano — an 8.8 pound beauty he caught off South Beach Park in April 2012. (Although he weighed the fish in front of several local witnesses, his record is dubbed “unofficial” because he did not have it officially weighed in Fort Lauderdale.) Venezuela-born Briceno, 55, who has become world-famous since his catch, is known as “King Pompano” and “King of the Beach” and is considered one of the area’s top surf fishing experts.
I am a novice surf fisherman and the prospect of meeting — and learning from — Briceno sent a small shiver up my dorsal fin. I had landed the big one. I felt as if I was a hapless duffer and Tiger Woods had just agreed to give me some pointers on straightening out my pitiful backswing.
I ask Briceno, “What do I need to bring?”
Without missing a beat, he replies, “A sense of adventure. We’re after another world record!”