In May 2012, I was in Miami on my way to Colombia to visit my wife's family. My son Christian was 4 years old at the time and it would be his second trip to Colombia. My wife's sister lives in Doral, FL, only a few minutes from Bass Pro Shops at Dolphin Mall in Miami. Of course I'd do everything possible to get an opportunity to fish in South Florida, and having yet to catch a peacock bass, I figured I'd check out the lure selection in Bass Pro Shops and try to find out some of the better areas to fish. While walking through the fishing section of the store, a guy who worked there came up to me and asked me if I needed any help. I said that I was just looking at the lures, and he jokingly said "I bet I could make you spend a lot of money in here." I said "You're probably right", and he introduced himself as Chris Hunter. Little did I know that he was the legendary Town Angler, but it soon dawned on me while talking to him that his fishing knowledge and experience was absolutely staggering.
He brought me through the various aisles, showing me which lures he uses for which fish, what colors work at different times of day and water clarity and even explained his techniques which he's learned and developed over the years. He spent a good amount of time with me and it felt like he'd been my friend for years, something that I've rarely if ever experienced. And he never told me to buy anything or spend money, but of course I did end up buying several lures.
During our conversation, I mentioned that I'd be traveling to Colombia for about two weeks and would be doing some fishing there. I said that I'd return to the store and spend a few days in Miami before returning to my home up north. He said, "If you see any peacock bass hats down in Colombia, pick one up for me and I'll pay you for it when you come back." I said "Of course", but I didn't find any fishing related hats at all during my trip. When I returned to Bass Pro Shops, Chris asked me how I did fishing. I said that the fishing was poor, but also that I didn't see any fishing hats with peacock bass designs on them in Colombia. "OK, no problem" he said. "It's just a shame that there don't seem to be any good peacock bass fishing hats anywhere." We continued to chat for a while about fishing in Miami, and I finally departed on my trip home.
During the next few months, I began to think about what Chris asked me to get for him and thought about making it myself. Chris didn't know that I was an artist and photographer by profession, but I also had a few years of experience manufacturing garments in Miami and Honduras during the late 90's. I thought about making a fishing cap with a peacock bass design, but part of me thought it was a silly idea so I did nothing. I even returned to Bass Pro Shops in Miami a year later and saw Chris working there, but I didn't even approach him since I was mad at myself for not making that hat. For the next two years, I couldn't escape the thought of creating a peacock bass design. My family was planning another trip to Miami, so I decided to create a logo and do a painting of a peacock bass underwater for printing on a shirt. I had a couple dozen hats embroidered with the logo entitled "Peacock Hunter" based on Chris' last name, and I also had a few dozen white t shirts printed with the logo on the front and the Rifle Scope underwater scene on the back.
I brought these to Miami with me and entered Bass Pro Shops with a hat, a shirt and a framed and signed print in a plastic shopping bag. Not knowing what would be his reaction or even if he'd remember me after three years, I asked if Chris Hunter was working. They told me he was in the fishing section, so I walked back there and found him in the terminal tackle section hanging up some packs of swivels. I said "Excuse me, aren't you Chris Hunter?" He said that he was. I said "You're one of the greatest fishermen in South Florida, perhaps even Planet Earth." He was taken aback and said "Well I'd like to be." I told him that I had met him three years ago and that he asked me for something at the time. I said "I couldn't come up with what you asked me for at the time, but I think I finally may have found what you were looking for." Then I took the hat out of the bag and handed it to him. He was completely surprised and said "Dude, where on earth did you find this?!!!" I told him that I made it based on his last name "Hunter", and then I took out the shirt and handed it to him. His reaction was what I'd been hoping for. He loved the designs and the framed print, and said that he was extremely humbled by the fact that I would make all this for him.
I ended up giving him all the hats and shirts that I brought with me so that he could give them to friends and family. The reception by the public was overwhelming and everyone was asking where they could get these. Thus began my friendship with Captain Chris Hunter, the Peacock Hunter brand, Fish Hunter Designs and the video series Tactical Fishing with Chris Hunter. I'm grateful that this endeavor has been a success, and I'm blessed that Chris and I and our families have become such close friends.