ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Capt. Steve Mullen has a passion for fishing and helping others. The local father and son of a military veteran is using that passion to help servicemen and women in our area.
He offers discounts on fishing charters through his business Fish Hunter Charters, which is based out of Atlantic Beach. He also works with a local anonymous “fish angel” who pays for a charter three times a year for veterans.
Mullen said helping veterans decompress after a long deployment or after combat is the least he can do to thank them for their service.
"A lot of them have seen wartime. They come back here and they're not used to water, birds, things we take for granted. They enjoy the sound and tranquility of the water," said Mullen about his experience taking veterans out on the water.
He offers offshore and inshore fishing charters.
"We went out and caught a bunch of barracuda and sheepshead. It was awesome. It was great," said Nassim Mana, who has served seven years in the military and spent two days on the water fishing with Mullen.
He said anything that helps transition from military duty back to family life is a huge boost for him.
"It's definitely a tough transition to go from one extreme to the other," Mana said.
Just before heading out on a six-month deployment, Mana said leaving his wife and young daughters is one of the most difficult aspects of serving in the military. This is his second deployment. He spent a year in the Middle East earlier in his career.
Leaving home is never easy. He takes his memories on the water with him and appreciates the opportunity Mullen offers to veterans.
"I think it's great because veterans make a lot of sacrifices," he said.
"I've had some soldiers come out. They can't stand to see a taxi at the boat ramp because it reminds them of when they were in country -- cause they get bombed," Mullen said. "Even driving to the boat ramp, they have memories of being over there. This kind of takes away from that."
If you know a veteran deserving of a free fishing charter or you’d like to book a charter with Mullen, contact him through his website: fishhunter.net.
Fish Hunter Charters is one of nearly a hundred local fish charters offered in our area, and you can vote for your favorite for JaxBest.
Voting started Monday and winners will be announced the week of July 8. You can vote once per day.
If you do not see your favorite on our JaxBest list, you have an option to write-in your candidate during the ballot process.