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The lobster doesn’t fall far from the trap

By Kristen Livengood and Sara Matthis

On the same wavelength, J.C. Carlson and brother Austin have grown up on the water, helping dad Jack bring the fish in on the charter side of the fishing industry. Austin, 21, is a charter boat captain out of Hawks Cay Resort already making serious money.

Kids learn the ropes early Most kids spend their summers and weekends sleeping in, relaxing, maybe working a part-time job, and hanging out. Then there are kids like commercial fishing cousins Demi Stiglitz and Peder Bidonne, and charter boat first mate J.C. and Capt. Austin Carlson, who have their alarms set pre-dawn to make sure they’re out on the water before the sun peeks over the horizon. Stiglitz and Bidonne, 15 and 16 years old, work their 500 lobster traps and 800 stone crab traps each season. Dad/Uncle, Richie, drives them to Keys Fisheries bright and early as long as their grades stay good. Neither has any interest in video games. “We only think about going out on the boat,” said Stiglitz. “In the off season, we are fixing traps, working on the boat, and maybe running to the sandbar and spearfishing.” When they graduate from high school, Stiglitz hopes to go to college for marine mechanics; Bidonne has his eyes set on the open water. The two trade off pulling traps and captaining their 24-foot boat “Catch-N-Like Crazy.” “They are true watermen,” said Richie, who doesn’t worry about them on the

36 2017 Marathon Seafood Festival

At just 12, J.C. is a first mate when he’s not in school. “He works whenever he can. The charter clients enjoy his company and tip him out at the end of the day,” said Jack. “He’s doing something he loves.”

Demi Stiglitz, front, and Peder Bidonne head out to throw traps.

water. “They grew up on these waters, and all the local fishermen watch out for them out there.” Their 11-year-old brother Dominick is also learning the ropes of the business – he spent all summer helping Capt. Bucko Platt commercial bullynet the Marathon flats, a form of lobstering that happens after dark from the topside of the water. “It’s just in his blood,” said Platt. “He’s a diehard little kid and his young eyes can spot them. His dad was always looking out for me when I was a kid, so this is just a way to pass it along to the next generation.”

J.C. is just one of two junior pro members of Pelagic, the international sports gear company. “He’s already making a name for himself as a tournament fisherman,” Jack said. J.C. Carlson, right, often mates for ex-NFL player Warren Sapp.

Marathon Seafood Festival  
Marathon Seafood Festival