The following is a profile of the Texas Junior Swordfish Record and the first qualifier in the history of the MONGO Offshore Challenge.
Captain Ryan Reagan loves fishing. He is also very good at it.
A fireman who grew up in Weatherford, Texas—a town that sits about 350 miles from the Gulf– Reagan knew he wanted to live on the coast. A vacancy at the Corpus Christi Fire Department provided just such an opportunity. As he applied to the CCFD, Reagan was asked, “Why do you want to work here?” His answer, “Because I like to fish.”
“It must have worked!” Reagan says of his response. He got the job and moved to the coast. Reagan started fishing.
He began his career working on boats on the party boats out of Port Aransas. He then earned his 100-ton captain’s license and was soon working on private boats—all the while serving as a fireman for the past 16 years.
Multi Boat Operation
These days, Captain Ryan Reagan runs two boats. The Fishyz Nitemare –a 40’ Seahunter with trip Mercury Verados– and the Buck-N-Bills, a 70’ Ocean.
To hear Reagan tell it, he is either in the fire house or on a boat. “I work 24 on and 48 off. In those 48, I am on a boat somewhere,” Reagan explains.
He saves up all of his leave and vacation time throughout the year to use in the summer. He spends them largely in pursuit of swordfish—a pursuit in which he is highly accomplished.
Reagan and the Fishyz Nitemare were in fact the first boat in the history of the MONGO Offshore Challenge to post a qualifying fish. Were it not enough that the swordfish he boated in the first week of the 2020 MONGO surpassed the 175-pound threshold, it also set the Texas State Junior swordfish record. On the rod was Reagan’s 14-year-old son Caden.
“Caden is really good. He helps me with everything—rigging the rods, leaders and bait—even when he can’t go because of school. He always helps me load the boat,” says Reagan proudly.
What follows is a profile of Reagan’s operation, the story of the record fish, and some insight into just how good the swordfishing in Texas is right now.
The MONGO’s First Qualifier
The Fishyz Nitemare does the bulk of its fishing out of Port Aransas, Texas. The team is composed of Captain Ryan, owner TK Miller, first mate Grant Kilcrease and a team of anglers that includes Caden Reagan, Bryan Conklin, Connor Bertlshofer. Captain Ryan and Grant have been fishing together for the past four years—which is about as long as Captain Ryan has run the boat.
Their program is straight forward—and one that illustrates all that a high performance, modern center console can make possible. “We don’t troll much. We primarily swordfish… mostly in the day time. We make the 85-mile run out in the morning and have just enough time to clear the jetties by dark,” Captain Ryan explains. “We average three to three and half swordfish per day.”
“We went out the first week of the MONGO. It was rough and we didn’t have our normal crew,” Reagan begins. On the boat was, however, 14-year-old Caden Reagan.
“We started our drift and had a bite. Caden had deployed the baits and he hooked the fish. He got into the harness and transferred the rod (from the holder into the harness) on his own. He fought the fish stand up for two hours,” Captain Ryan recalls.
At the time of hook up, Caden already held the Texas state junior record for swordfish—a 93 pounder. “The fish made a few jumps and we knew it was a bigger fish—he wanted the new record. It would also be a qualifier in the MONGO tournament,” Captain Ryan relates.
The New Texas Junior Swordfish Record
“After two hours he was getting tired and hurting pretty good. We finally got the fish near the boat and almost into gaffing range. It was staying pretty deep, swimming perpendicular to the boat.”
“Timmy Oestreich took a deep shot—he was at the end of the gaff. He knew that Caden didn’t have much left in the tank and that we needed to get the fish. Timmy took a shot when the fish was seven or eight feet deep and made it count. He got the fish turned and we got two more gaffs into him,” Reagan recalls.
Timmy Oestreich is the captain of the Dolphin Express Head Boat in Port Aransas. This is the same party boat that gave Reagan his introduction to professional saltwater fishing.
Reagan’s fish went 183 pounds– good enough to break the Texas junior swordfish record handily. It was not only the first qualifier in the history of the MONGO Offshore Challenge, but was in the lead for about 9 hours before Captain Jeff Wilson and the Titan Up hung their swordfish—the one that would eventually win the tournament.
The fish also set the Texas Junior State Swordfish Record. A successful trip and great way to kick off the MONGO. You can find Captain Ryan Reagan and the Fishyz Nitemare in the 2021 MONGO’s swordfish division.