It doesn’t take long at all when talking with Captain Myjestic “Jessie” Anderson to figure out that sport fishing is not only her livelihood but her absolute passion. Her career began when she was just five years old, helping her grandfather set drift nets from a juniper-planked, open skiff in Currituck Sound, to the present, as skipper of Carolina Girl, a 53-foot custom Jarrett Bay that she runs out of Hatteras, NC.
When not chasing billfish or tunas in the Gulf Stream, she’s running lighter tackle trips on Miss Daisey, a 24-foot KenCraft’s BayRider equipped with a tower to spot cobia and red drum. Jessie also recently did a season on NatGeoTv’s popular reality show, “Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks,“ serving as co-captain of the show’s first all-female crew.
Running her business, Carolina Girl Sportfishing, takes a ton of work, say Captain Jessie, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She loves the ocean and fishing it that much. Oh, and in case you were curious, Myjestic is her given name. “I’m a child of the 60s. What can I say? Better than Moonbeam, I guess,” she deadpans.
PT’s Chris$: Recently, you were co-captain of the first all-female crew on National Geographic Channel’s hit reality show “Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks.” What was that experience like?
Captain Jessie: While I enjoy new challenges, I really prefer to control my own destiny (on the water). In hindsight I should have demanded a few things before filming began. Confidence (among crew) is such a big factor in being successful in offshore fishing, yet that did not occur. But it did help my charter business.
What advice would you offer girls and women, or guys, looking to get into bluewater fishing?
The first thing I recommend is that they go on a professional charter. If you go with a good captain, you will learn things much faster. And there’s a lot to learn. I would also tell them to go with a group of people you can have fun with, because after all that’s what sportfishing is all about. And finally, don’t let anyone tell you can’t fish offshore.
Who were your mentors who encouraged you to pursue your fishing passion?
Hmmm, that’s kind of a tough one. I guess it was a combination of several people in my family, especially my father and grandfather. Both had a tremendous passion for (sport fishing) that they encouraged in me. They did try to talk me out of trying to make a living solely on running charters, though. It’s hard to make it just running charters.
Of all the fish you’ve caught, which is your favorite? What’s the most challenging and memorable catch?
My favorite is wahoo—they can quickly take you from hero or zero. One day you can be (dialed) in on them while the boat next to you hasn’t caught one, and then the next day it will be your turn to not catch. Plus, we only have a short time period in which we can target them, and they fight really hard.
Most challenging fish, I think, is a blue marlin. The big ones are solitary and don’t swim in schools. And the ocean is so big that finding one, let alone catching one, is not an easy task. Plus there’s the expense: dredges, live bait, and other equipment.
I’ve had a few memorable catches, but one that comes to mind happened in the early ’90s when huge bluefin tuna were north of us off the coast. They were so thick (in numbers). Huge, massive fish. We were chunking for them. One tuna just took off before I was strapped into the harness and stood me up in the chair, almost dragging me overboard. That was exciting.
If you could fish with a famous person—real or fictional character—who would that be and why?
The person would be Capt. Tommy Gifford, (IGFA Hall of Famer and world famous bluewater angler who was first to develop spreader outriggers for use in the Atlantic; lived 1896-1970.) He was such an innovator, always trying new things.
What’s the most over-rated fishing superstition?
That “bananas are bad luck.” What a bunch of baloney.
What are the most common mistakes anglers make when fighting big fish?
Letting slack in the line, and then trying to set the hook like a TV bass fishermen. Also, some of the young, strong guys do the “herky-jerky” thing when reeling in a big fish. Smooth reeling is the key here.
When you aren’t on the water, what are you likely to be doing?
Thinking about getting back on the water! (She laughs). I like to travel, visit new places… to fish!
by Captain Chris Dollar