The Summer School of Fish
The Summer School of Fish, The Fishing Experience, was launched in 2004 by Capt. Mike Puller after realizing that unless a family had the means to afford their own boat, the chances of any kid, even living in South Florida, having the opportunity to experience the joys of boating, the thrill of sport fishing, and the respect and awe of our waters, were slim to none.
So, by spreading flyers and purchasing radio ads, Capt. Mike hoped to attract enough kids to get the camp off the ground. The four-week-long sessions of camp were completely booked up within days. The goal was not only to take the kids fishing, but to teach them everything about the process, including knot-tying, cast-net throwing, line casting, anchoring, fish location, species identification, and even lessons in maintenance of fishing gear. The idea being that, with this experience, they could then go and do this on their own.
Within two years, relying on word-of-mouth alone, the camp was running a full eight weeks and other boats were hired to accommodate the demand. To date, over 600 kids have participated in the Summer School of Fish. Campers have recorded countless catches, hold two IGFA world records — some have gone on to acquire jobs on charter boats and privately owned vessels. A few have even had success in the region’s biggest fishing tournaments. But all have gone on with a new-found love and respect for the sport and environment. The Summer Program consists of ten 5-day sessions that combine daily fishing experiences with on-shore educational enrichment activities designed to teach the community’s youth both the art of fishing and the importance of understanding and protecting South Florida’s environment.
Captain Mike Puller
Capt. Mike Puller, the Founder and Executive Director, is regarded by many as an innovator in the art of teaching and training fishing skills to young charter boat mates. Some of the best mates in the fishing community have gotten their start with him, going on to become very capable captains. Having given many seminars and presentations to youth groups like the Boy Scouts, Boys Club and school fishing clubs, Capt. Mike has a unique ability to teach and inform young people while keeping it fun and interesting. Those of you with teens can attest to the difficulty in that!
As the son of a charter boat captain, Capt. Mike has been fishing since early childhood, and as a teen, worked summers, weekends, and on every vacation, honing his skills alongside some of the best fishermen in the business at Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park Marina. For several years, Capt. Mike captained privately owned boats in the Miami area, guiding anglers to many tournament victories, including the Yamaha/Contender Miami Billfish Tournament, The Cocoplum Billfish Tournament, 4-time winner of the Miami Law Enforcement Tournament, 2-time winner of the Orange Bowl Classic, and the Boat Harbour Billfish Championship, among many others.
Since 1996, Capt. Mike has owned and operated the charter-boat “Lisa L” out of Crandon Marina. On a daily basis, he sees recreational fishermen struggling unsuccessfully to achieve their expectations of a productive day of fishing, armed with nothing but a few magazine articles and the occasional bait shop seminar. He realized the need for a place where young people can learn real fishing skills, just like the pros, so they can enjoy the resources that are so readily available here in South Florida. This is his goal for the Summer School of Fish.