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Fisherman Helping Fisherman

Captain Dave Mistretta of Jaws Too Fishing Charters with his best friend and fishing partner,  Jon West.
Captain Dave Mistretta of Jaws Too Fishing Charters with his best friend and fishing partner, Jon West.

Captain Dave Mistretta of Jaws Too Fishing Charters took first place in the recent Old Salt Fishing Foundation annual Spring King of the Beach Kingfish Tournament. On stage, while excepting his win, he announced he would donate half of his $20,000 cash winnings and pledge his support for his long time friend and fishing partner, Jon West who is battling Colon Cancer. Capt. Dave promptly took the cash, first place trophy and a huge check straight to Jon’s house.

“It’s all about the smiles” says Mistretta

If you fish West Central Florida to Key West, Costa Rica and points beyond, when you mention the name Jon West, likely as not, someone will chime in with a  …the time Jon and I…. story. Jon is a storyteller extraordinaire, an avid writer, captain, mate, husband and friend.

With the inspiration and support from Captain Dave the Old Salt Fishing Foundation is hosting a fundraiser to benefit Jon. “Medical bills can be a such a struggle for anyone fighting cancer. We want Jon’s focus to be healing himself. The stress of monthly bills while undergoing treatment should be the farthest thing from Jon and his family’s minds”, says Jill Foraker, Old Salt Board Member. “Jon has been a long time Old Salt member and supporter. He truly is an Old Salt,  fishing is in his blood and he’s spent a lifetime feeding that passion from writing for several well acclaimed fishing magazines to chartering and matting boats. We wanted to find a way that Jon’s friends and other individuals in the community could help. There is a special bond between saltwater enthusiasts, especially locally, I’ve seen us (Old Salts) come together before to help a fallen fisherman and we will do it again, its what we do,” said Foraker.

The fundraiser consists of an online auction and opportunities to donate cash. The online auction is open for bids at https://oldsaltfishing.org/jon-west-fundraiser/
Over 30 items that range from Offshore fishing charters from Captains such as Dave Mistretta to vacations, concert tickets, tackle and much more are available. The auction will close Sunday, May 31st. If you want to donate money to Jon West you can also make a cash donation on the auction page.

Questions please contact info@oldsaltfishing.org or Old Salt Line 727-216-6601

From Jon ….
“Since I was a kid reading every fishing magazine I could get my hands on, my heroes have always been fishermen. And as a writer and magazine publisher, it was the fishermen and captains who gave my work credibility and depth and made every story I wrote a learning experience. And now, as I enter a fight for my life, it is once again, the fishermen and captains, who are my heroes, helping me through this rough spot.

And to my brother Dave Mistretta, I am forever grateful. As a young kid who just wanted to fish, Dave took me in and taught me a life skill that I was able to translate into a career. He is my mentor, brother and skipper, always, and as close to my heart as any blood relative could be. I thank him and the local fishing community (especially the Old Salts), for being a bright light in these dark times. I will see you all on the water again. Until then, keep ‘em bent.” – JON

About Jon….
Born and raised within a bike ride of Boca Ciega Bay, Jon West has been fishing local waters since the early 70s. In 1989 he started working for The St. Petersburg Times and was soon writing daily and weekly fishing reports and features for the Times’ sports section. He soon became a contributor to several national sportfishing publications and spent several years as a field editor and contributor to Florida Sportsman magazine. In 1994, Jon moved to the Florida Keys to become the founding editor of Fishing the Florid Keys magazine. His stay in Marathon was short and by the end of 1995, after traveling across the U.S. with his wife, dog and 13 fishing rods, Jon returned to St. Pete where he soon started working for Capt. Dave Mistretta aboard the Jaws Too. For three years he manned the deck on daily charters and during stone crab season. As kingfish tournaments grew in popularity, so did the success of the Jaws Too team, culminating with a 2nd Place finish in the SKA Nationals in Fort Pierce in 1998. By then, Jon had earned his captain’s license and was running a second Jaws boat, the Jaws Jr., for Mistretta.

Eventually, Jon left the Jaws Too team to pursue his writing and publishing dreams, starting his own local fishing magazine, Saltwater Angler, with Tampa angler Paul Arcos. The magazine enjoyed a solid run and West won several state writing awards for his lively feature writing and photography. West also ended up running the creative department of an international publishing company producing books for the NFL and the U.S. military. He was extremely proud of his short run as editor of the Local Angler, a high end local magazine that produced a handful of beautiful issues before calling it quits.

Two years ago, West reunited with his old buddy Mistretta and rejoined the Jaws Too fishing team. He was an integral part of the team’s tournament success in the last few years and also worked the deck whenever Mistretta needed an extra mate. Most recently and before his illness forced him off the water, West was working aboard the charterboat Simply Hooked with his old friend Capt. Tom Markham, himself a descendant of the Jaws Too Fishing family.

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