Skip Bradeen has a lot of fish tales from his 56 years of plying the waters off Islamorada in the Florida Keys. But one of the longtime captain’s best stories came from being out with Paul Newman, one of the many A-list actors, athletes and politicians who’ve come aboard Bradeen’s 50-foot Carolina sport-fisherman Blue Chip Too.
Newman landed a 273-pound hammerhead shark, a formidable catch. When they returned to the marina, Newman wanted his picture taken with his prize. “He said, ‘I want to be hoisted, upside down, next to the shark,’” Bradeen says.
The photo of Newman, arms folded, hanging upside down with his hammerhead, ended up going out nationally over a news service.
Bradeen is regarded as a local celebrity in his own right in the Upper Keys, in large part because of his daily On the Water With Capt. Skip Bradeen radio fishing reports. He has recorded them for 32 years. Bradeen gives listeners the inside scoop on what’s running around Islamorada, no matter whether it’s king mackerel, wahoo and sailfish in winter or mahimahi and tuna in summer. His expertise, combined with his trademark charm, led Salt Water Sportsman to name him one of the top 50 captains in the world.
What brought you to Florida’s Islamorada from New York’s Long Island? I came here for a two-week vacation in 1964 before I was supposed to start butcher school. I fell in love with the place. I’d been around boats since I was 8. I signed on as a deckhand and never left.
After all these years, what do you still enjoy about being out on the water? I love what I do. I love catching fish. I love the clientele I get introduced to every day. I pinch myself all the time that this is how I get to make my living.
Skip’s star picks on Islamorada
Wahoo’s Bar and Grill: It’s upstairs at Whale Harbor Marina, so you can sit on the beautiful veranda, watch the boats come in and enjoy fresh fish.
Ziggie & Mad Dog’s: They have great service and tremendous steaks. My favorite is the bone-in rib-eye.
Robbie’s of Islamorada: The restaurant is wonderful. You can feed tarpon there by hand.
Theater of the Sea: It showcases every kind of fish from the Islamorada area, plus turtles, dolphins and more.