Capt. Steve: A Personal Profile
The charter fishing business attracts all kinds of operators: the young and restless; the not-so-young and restless; individuals with passion and talent, not all of whom are grounded enough to run a sensible business AND put in the foundation of constant, relentless, methodical maintenance and meticulous work it takes to run what is a very labor-intensive endeavor. It’s no surprise that charter operators come and go, and that a stable, highly successful, topnotch operation that performs consistently year in and year out is the exception (to say the least). It’s fair to state that the only captains who do this are truly passionate, extraordinarily talented, and derive great personal rewards from creating daily masterpieces, each a mosaic of rich fishing experiences for their clients…many of whom, over the years, become close friends, almost like an extended family. Capt. Steve has been doing just that for 23 years, the last 16 on the same boat, the corporate-owned Yabba Dabba Doo. Anyone who has hung around charter marinas in various fishing hotspots around the world will understand just how special that is. But when you get to know Capt. Steve personally, it’s no surprise.
Steven Leopold is 56 years old. Born in Miami, just up the road from the Keys, Steve fished from a very early age along the southeastern coast of the Florida peninsula and in the Florida Keys, passionately and often. Longtime visitors may remember the old ice block machine at the Payfair grocery store at Milemarker 90 on theOverseas Highwayleading from Miami to Key West. This is where Steve and his dad stopped when he was a young boy when they were on the way south to fish in Islamorada. Steve kept fishing through the years, and he also completed two college degrees in horticulture and landscape design. He founded South Florida Landscape and Design, Inc. immediately thereafter, a highly successful landscape contracting company with accounts all over Dade and Broward Counties, and operated intensively and very profitably for ten years. While this funded many a fishing expedition, it was high time for Steve to make his main passion in life his profession, a transition that was entirely natural given his already massive accumulation of sea time and fishing expertise. In quick succession Steve married his lovely partner for life, Leslie, and they moved from the Miami area down the road to Tavernier,Florida—to a spot right around the corner from that old ice machine we talked about earlier. Now, 23 years later, Steve and Leslie, and their daughters Annie (age 19) and Ellie (age 16), have never looked back. They’re all extremely successful, and a lot of it stems from Steve being about the best husband and father you could imagine…kind of like the way he approaches the charter profession.
Steve is passionate about life, and he absolutely loves his home,Islamorada,Florida Keys. He knows every fun thing to do here, and he knows how to do it. He knows every restaurant in town, and he has been to every one of them. His love for the area makes it very easy and comfortable for him to share this energy with his clients, and to guide them not only out on the water, but to the most enjoyable possible interlude in what is indisputably a storybook location. Steve has a great rapport with local businesses, resort owners, and vacation-oriented businesses. He has also earned immense respect in the community at large as a reliable, reasonable, responsible, trustworthy, and competent businessman and person. The younger generation of fishermen, and Steve’s peers, are respectful of his intolerance for drugs or any kind of substance abuse, any form of dishonesty or dishonorable behavior, and his very high personal standards. He is a tough taskmaster, but his deckhands meet and exceed these standards, and derive great satisfaction and pride from working for an operation at the pinnacle of the profession.
If you wanted to summarize the essence of Steve, you have only to take a look at how he has conducted his life. He’s intelligent, compassionate, honest, and loyal. He does what he says he is going to do. But most of all, he’s a worker, and everything he does, he does right. Steve has been the primary bookkeeper for all of the businesses he has owned or operated, and each has been a distinctive success. Another example is his home, which started as an average, garden-variety Keys concrete block stucco dwelling. Now it’s a masterpiece of landscaping, art, design, and beautiful finishing work. He is the main chef of the house, and his meals, in every detail, are exquisite dining experiences. His wife and daughters are his queen and princesses, and he treats them like royalty. Needless to say, they absolutely and unconditionally adore him. Getting the idea here? And how do you think he might treat his customers? That’s right, you’ve got it…you owe it to yourself to go ahead and be one. You’ll never look back.