King of Kings: Dream comes true for Self

Tina Harbuck
Jayson Self is now captain of the King of Kings docked at East Pass Marina in Destin.

He caught his second blue marlin when he was 6 years old fishing aboard the Finest Kind with Capt. Tommy Browning and always dreamed of owning his own charter boat.

Thirty years later, the dream has become a reality for Capt. Jayson Self.

Self is now captain of the 23-foot center-console boat tagged King of Kings docked at East Pass Marina in Destin.

“It’s been a dream of mine and things just kind of fell into place,” Self said. “My dad died last year and this was something I wanted to do with him while he was still alive, but it just didn’t happen.”

Nevertheless, he is carrying out his and his family’s dream to own a charter boat.

Self is buying the boat from Capt. Nathan Putney.

“It’s nerve racking. It’s easy when you are working with somebody else who is already established,” Self said. “But stepping off and doing your own thing is nerve racking. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And there is no better time than now.”

Self, who got his captains license last October, started as a second mate aboard the Mollie with Capt. Jeff Shoults.

Since then, he has worked with Capt. Allen Staples, Capt. Ben O’Connor and Capt. Judah Barbee, with all three having influenced him tremendously, Self said.

Now, he is both deckhand and captain aboard his six-passenger boat.

“I’ve actually had a little experience with that,” Self said, noting he ran one of Staples’ bay boats before.

“I actually find it easier, instead of trying to tell someone what to do. Not saying I do it better, but I know what needs to be done. It’s nice,” he said.

The hardest thing about being the lone man in charge is holding up on a spot bottom fishing and taking care of the customers, he said.

“Right now I’m having to anchor up a lot, just so I can help the customers,” he said.

Self, who has already run about a dozen trips this spring, does Gulf, Bay and shark trips.

“I like Gulf and shark fishing best. It’s what I’m better at,” he said, noting he learned from some of the best.

“But I’ll do anything they want to do, including sunset cruises,” he said.

However, his favorite is Gulf fishing for species such as king mackerel, red snapper and mingo to name a few.

“We want to take families out there and make memories,” he said.

Some of Self’s fondest fishing memories are from his youth.

As a youth, Self got to fish for shark, catch billfish and fish in cobia tournaments.

“The big stuff I’ve done, I was very young. I was very fortunate and didn’t realize it at the time,” Self said. “But looking back, I did a lot of stuff before I was 10 years old that people don’t get to do.

“But since then it’s been a parade of experiences fishing with people I love,” he said.

As for the name of the boat, King of Kings, Self said “the name picked us.”

“We as a family had been thinking name after name and just couldn’t settle on anything,” Self said.

Putney, who originally bought the boat from Staples when it was named Locked Up, renamed it King of Kings.

“And without the King of Kings, the Lord Almighty, this would not have been possible,” Self said. “We thought about just keeping the name for a year and see how it goes, but I think it’s going to stay.

“It’s through his grace and everything we’ve been though, keeping our faith and trust in God,” he said that has kept them strong. “We want our charter business to be God based, faith based. … We want people to see God in everything we do.”

King of Kings, which is a state-permitted boat and is good to fish out to nine nautical miles, is open for charter.

“We’re just trying to make memories for people, just like my dad did,” Self said. “Take people out and have a good time. It’s not about smashing fish, it’s about the experience. If we catch fish that’s extra and cool.”