Capt. Tommy Donlin – BD Captain Spotlight

Capt. Tommy Donlin – BD Captain Spotlight

BD welcomes Capt. Tommy Donlin to step into the BD Captain’s Spotlight and share his tale of obsession with fishing, hunting, and the great outdoors.

big game hunt

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What are your other hobbies?

Big game hunting has become a serious addiction for me.  It started out in 2015 when my (now) wife said she was tired of eating fish six days a week.  I didn’t blame her, but I did say that if we were going to eat more red meat, then I’m going to be the one procuring it (i.e., hunting).  With the help of my wife’s parents, who hunt Eastern Washington, I bagged my first buck, a 3×4 whitetail.  That first buck sparked an addiction that is now a wildfire and I’m hunting Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Hawaii chasing everything from pigs to elk. 


Q:

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What would you consider as your “big break” or turning point in your fishing career?  
In 2009, I was contacted by Bo Palmer (CEO/President of Defiance Boats) to be a Prostaffer/Ambassador for Defiance Boats.  Defiance Boats flew me to San Diego to test run their boats.  We took the 29’ Defiance Guadalupe to San Clemente Island for a day of throwing plastics at bass, then returned to Mission Bay where I took out the 25’ Defiance Admiral for a spin.  I ultimately settled on the 25’ and took delivery in March of 2010. 

defiance boats

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Favorite fish or game to eat? 

It’s a toss-up between bluefin tuna sashimi and fresh steamed Dungeness crab dipped in lemon butter.  In the realm of game, an elk backstrap, cooked on the grill, with my mushroom parmesan sauce is hard to beat. 

goat hunt in Hawaii
florida swordfishing

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What is your favorite place on the planet so far? 
Top three?  Kona, Cabo San Lucas, and Southern Florida (Fort Lauderdale area).  What can I say, I like chasing pelagics and learning new tactics.  My go-to Captains to fish with at these locations are Bomboy Llanes in Kona, Mike Tumbiero in Cabo, and Art Sapp in Southern Florida.


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What styles of music do you like? 

I listen to everything from 90’s/early 2000s hip-hop to old-school country music to Dubstep to Classic Rock.  I absolutely can’t stand Dave Matthews Band or any other (what I call) whiney music.

florida blackfin tuna

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What is your absolute favorite type of fishing? (This is a hard one). 
This one is easy for me.  Any fishing that takes me to blue water, and specifically a wide-open tuna bite on live bait.  There is nothing like watching a tuna launch out of the water like a Saturn 5 rocket, blowing bait out of the water with it, and then feeding the perfect live bait to that tuna and being connected to the bait the entire time, knowing when it gets anxious……to the moment it hits the back of that tuna’s throat and I’m HOOKED UP!

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bd fishing chicks
striper fishing the northeast

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What is the most crucial piece of gear/ equipment that you use at work or play?
Maybe this is a cop-out answer, but it’s my cranium.  If you take care of your “dome”, you’ll have all of the material gear or equipment you could want or need.  You have to be able to make a plan (and a backup plan) based on the bits of data that are fed into your brain. 


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A:

Name a “Pet Peeve” that you have. 
Laziness!  There is no excuse for it.  It doesn’t matter what nationality, race, religion, or socioeconomic status you come from.  You can control your work ethic no matter what.

salmon fishing PNW

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Who do you go to for advice?

My Dad, Terry Donlin.  In his 83 years, he has gone from rags to riches.  He started out on a small farm in South Dakota where the family didn’t have enough money to house the 6 children inside the main house.  My Dad and Uncle had to live in a chicken coup year-round that had no insulation and no heat.  High school counselors told my Dad that he could never be an engineer and he should stick to farming.  4 years of engineering at South Dakota State University and 38 years later, Dad had amassed an impressive career with the Boeing company, leading key national defense programs at the rank of Chief Engineer and Program Manager.  He is the reason why I am so driven (and impatient).

albacore fishing

Q:

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Describe the scene that brings you the deepest personal satisfaction. 
A wide-open albacore tuna bite with all 6 anglers hooked up and everyone covered in blood from head to toe, while barely finding enough deck space to step because there are tuna laying everywhere.  Guys not wanting to put another live anchovy in the water for fear that they will be hooked up again and are afraid their arms will detach from their body from reeling in so many fish.  The tuna are so thick that you would think you’re in a stocked trout pond (but with 20 lb. bullets).  Their facial expressions range from smiles to complete disbelief at what is taking place.  They talk about it for years to come.  That is what dreams are made of.

More Great Captains Here

These great fishing captains have proven they have what it takes to chase fish in a modern era, but they also share more of their stories in our Captain’s Spotlight