Hunting and fishing is ‘my mistress,’ Chag’s manager says

Sammy Romano has a jealous inamorata. She won’t let the 42-year-old bachelor even think about taking a wife.

“My mistress is hunting and fishing,” Romano said. “I pretty much hunt or fish every weekend. I’ve had women try to change me, but that will never change. No matter how stressful life gets, hunting and fishing is there for me; it’s like hitting a reset button.

“When I’m in that surf, the rest of the world could end. It’s all about me getting that next bite. You’re so focused on what you are doing. It’s like a mind-eraser.”

Even his work is related to hunting and fishing. He’s the manager of Chag’s Sporting Goods, a retail fishing and bow hunting shop in Metairie.

“I was 18 when I met Ray Chagnard in his store,” Romano said. “We started bow hunting and doing some fishing together. Ray and his best friend Gene Sutherland took me under their wings.”

One day, Chagnard asked the youthful Romano if he wanted to work part-time in the store. Part-time led to full-time, which later led to manager. In 1992-1993, Chag’s started an archery line.

“I kind of latched onto it,” Romano said. “Now, that’s my focus. People drive from Atlanta to buy from me.”

Of course, Romano came to Chag’s as a pre-trained fisherman. His father started taking him fishing in the marshes around Lafitte and at Grand Isle when he was 4 or 5 years old.

“We really fished a lot back then,” he explained. “Dad also had a place in Destin, Fla. I caught my first marlin there. I have caught four now. I’ve changed a lot now; I don’t even reach for the rod if a marlin takes it. I have more fun watching someone who has never experienced it before.

“I have two favorites now: offshore fishing, mostly for tuna but some for snapper and amberjacks, and surf fishing.”

Spearfishing was a real eye-opener for him.

“When you dive the oil rigs of Louisiana compared to places like Florida, it’s like comparing the wilds of Africa to (the New Orleans) Audubon Zoo,” Romano said. “Things you have heard all your life you get to see — how fish position themselves in relation to structure and bait.”

Romano was a member of Helldivers Spearfishing Club for eight years, until Hurricane Katrina changed the focus of his outdoors life. He got back into surf fishing seven or eight years ago and became “seriously hard” in the last six years.

“I go every weekend, weather-permitting, from mid-April until late June,” Romano explained. “When I was a kid, Dad took us surf fishing a few times at Grand Isle and Destin, although our main thing was the camp in Lafitte and fishing offshore.  But I always thought that it was cool to be in the water with the fish. You’re in their element, like with spearfishing, and it’s simple.

“I am becoming a minimalist. I went from fishing in a boat to fishing in a kayak to fishing with no boat — no fish finders, no trolling motor, no i-Pilot. It’s you and the fish.”

That simplicity is part of the allure for this hard-core angler.

“In day-to-day life we are so caught up in electronics that when I go fishing I want it simple,” Romano said. “You can’t get much more basic than surf fishing.

“It’s you, a rod and a lure.

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About Jerald Horst 959 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.

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