Meet the Fisherman - Cleon Smith

Long hours, hard work, at the whim of Maritime weather and sometimes facing real danger in the rough waters of the Atlantic! This sums up how these men and women earn their living from the sea.

We thought you'd like to meet some of these extraordinary people who catch your fish!

This time we'd like to introduce you to the younger half of the dynamic Smith duo from Cape Sable Island, Cleon Smith.

I first met Cleon on a warm summer day in 1993 when I was in search of swordfish boats along the South Shore, in the hopes that I could sell them an electric version of the chemical light sticks used by local swordfishermen to attract swordfish to their gear. Since this was the to be the first of many trips, over the years seeking out swordfish vessels, I was watching for any boat tied to the dock with a rack full of buoys, that are used to float the pelagic longline used to catch swordfish and tuna, making them distinctive from other fishing vessels.

Sure enough, there, tied to the dock in West Head, Cape Sable Island was the F/V “Sexy Lady”, a well maintained 45’ vessel with a rack full of buoys and a longline spool on the deck. I climbed down the ladder and hopped onto the deck and was greeted by a smiling, friendly young fellow. After introducing myself and making him aware of the purpose of my unannounced visit, he called out his older brother, Lenwood, the other half of the Smith dynamic duo, Captain of the “Sexy Lady”. 

Little did I know that this would be the first of many visits with the two brothers and the beginning of a 30-year long friendship that continues to this day, always a highlight to my weekly visits to the South Shore when the vessel is in port. Cleon’s usual greeting is “What’s the good news, Atkins?”, shortening my last name as is customary by many of the locals, followed by a humorous summary of the latest fishing trip.

Cleon learned his profession, starting on the back deck of the boat with his father first, then his older brother. As he puts it “I have graduated from Deck Donkey to Captain”, and he now has his son, Corbin with him learning the profession. It doesn’t seem to matter what the target species is, it is clear Cleon enjoys his profession of fisher - lobster in the winter, halibut in the spring, swordfish and tuna in the summer and fall, with a short break for some hunting before starting the cycle over again. Any visit is always pleasant, and the story telling is always enjoyable.

During my last visit, only days after the conclusion of the lobster season, I was presented with some of the most delicious lobster that I have had the privilege of eating and was informed that a halibut trip or two were in the plans for Cleon, now the Captain of the “Sexy Lady”.

Best of luck, Cleon! Looking forward to your halibut appearing on our menu again. 

Tight Lines!