Brian Rice’s grandfather owned a nicely outfitted Johnson Brothers powerboat but didn’t know a thing about fishing — nor did he want to. Luckily for Rice, his father and uncle loved to fish and made good use of the boat in their home waters around the Navesink River in New Jersey. His father eventually turned his attention toward bringing Rice into the tribe.
“My father is the one who got me into fishing,” Rice says. “Every Saturday and Sunday, I would fish with him for an hour or two and get really seasick. I’d go home, lay down for an hour or two and then go fishing again. I just kind of fought through it. That’s part of the passion for fishing I’ve had since I was 5 years old.”
Rice ran a number of boats when he was a kid, including a 12-foot aluminum Starcraft rowboat, a 13-foot Boston Whaler and a 16-foot, cedar-planked Garvey with a 35-hp Evinrude. His fishing targets were primarily spring and fall stripers in the Navesink River and Sandy Hook Bay. “It was difficult to keep me off the water,” he says. “I was totally addicted from the get-go.”
Now a charter captain, Rice runs a 2006 31-foot Contender center console with a forward cuddy and powered by twin 250-hp Yamaha 4-strokes. “We started Jersey Devil Sportfishing in 2003 with a 1974 Potter-built SeaCraft I bought sight unseen from Florida,” Rice recalls. “It needed a lot of work, so we fixed it up and ran it for a few years before the Contender arrived.”
Rice typically guides for stripers during the spring and fall out of Fair Haven, New Jersey, reserving the summer months for tuna and shark offshore.
“The boat is perfect for both coastal fishing and out in the ocean,” he says. “I typically run the boat hot at 32 to 34 knots at 5,800 rpm, and the extra weight of the forward cuddy really improves the trim and ride. I’ve dropped this hull on some massive waves; the hull is stronger than the occupants by a long shot.”
Rice says Contender understands what it takes to build a good fishing boat. He says after all these years of heavy use and abuse, it’s still a great boat, whether slow-trolling live eels for stripers or fishing for sharks, yellowfin, bigeye and longfin tuna. “I don’t have any reason to get another boat,” he says, “Plus, we’re waiting on a new pair of 300-hp Yamahas, which will cut overall weight by 100 pounds or so and offer us the Helm Master EX joystick control system. It should be a total game-changer for our type of live-bait fishing.”
When he’s not guiding, Rice enjoys fishing with his wife, Jacquie; daughter, Cameron; and son, Jack. “They’re totally into it,” he says, “and I wouldn’t want any other boat to do it in.”