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Voices from the Waterfront

Meet Captain Kalil Boghdan, Who Takes Anglers In Search of Striped Bass 

July 31, 2012

Captain Kalil Boghdan motors down the Essex River. Credit: Kalil Boghdan.

Captain Boghdan shows how he releases striped bass back into the ocean. Credit: Kalil Boghdan.

Releasing another striper into the water. Credit: Kalil Boghdan.


























Capt. Kalil Boghdan of Hamilton, Massachusetts, started Downriver Charters 15 years ago after a career as a principal and science teacher. He brings small groups of anglers on Kingfisher, his shallow-draft outboard vessel, to fish for striped bass and bluefish in the coastal waters off the North Shore of Massachusetts.

How did you get into fishing?

I have fond memories of growing up in New Jersey and fishing as a teenager with my friends in nearby ponds and streams. When I was 12, I found an old bamboo fly rod in the basement and taught myself to fly cast. My older brother Sam used to take me and a friend to the shore for surf fishing. He realized that the best way to keep kids from getting into trouble was to get them out fishing.

How did you make the move from educator to running a charter fishing business?

I got a Ph.D. in biology from Northeastern University in 1973. Jobs were tight and I was able to get a teaching job in the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District. It was the best thing that ever happened because it landed me three miles from the ocean. I bought a skiff and went fishing with my oldest son. While principal of the middle school, I had no time to fish. So when I got the chance to go back to the classroom as chairman of the science department, I took it. My friends enjoyed going out with me and urged me to consider starting a business. I got my Coast Guard master’s license in 1998 and started the business part time. I also became an Orvis-endorsed fly fishing guide. Since retiring in 2004, I’ve been taking people out from May to September.

How is business these days?

I’m booked solid until the end of August. I have people coming from all over the country. When people come to fish with me it makes me feel good because it brings business to local tackle shops, motels and hotels, restaurants, antique stops and the whole area. People can’t believe the beauty of what they’re seeing 40 minutes from Boston. My business is as much about fishing as it is about giving people a quality experience, showing them the ecology, the wildlife, and telling them about the history of Essex, the nation’s center of wooden shipbuilding. With the Kingfisher, we get into some skinny water and people enjoy the tidal marshes, the sand flats, and the waters off the barrier beaches—Crane’s Beach and Plum Island.

Why do you insist on catch and release of stripers?

My clients know when they fish on my boat, they're releasing the stripers, but if they want to keep a bluefish, they just need to bring a cooler with ice. I got familiar with the striped bass situation in the 1970s when I was president of the Massachusetts Wildlife Federation and joined with others in the effort to help bring it back with the moratorium and other efforts. Now is my chance to do my little part to help preserve and manage this species.

Do you have a favorite fish?

I like fluke, flounder, haddock, scallops, raw oysters, and clams.

This interview is part of “Voices from the Waterfront,” an ongoing series of interviews with men and women whose lives and livelihoods depend on sustainable fisheries. NOAA welcomes suggestions for people to interview for the series. Send suggestions by e-mail to Monica Allen at