On summer break, the alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m., and two Key West High School soon-to-be sophomores open their eyes. Cousins Demi Stiglitz and Peder Bidonne, both 15, brush their teeth, put on a little deodorant and climb into dad Richie Stiglitz’s truck. From there, they sleep for the 30-minute ride to Marathon from their Sugarloaf house, hope dad stops for quick breakfast from The Stuffed Pig, and by 5:30 a.m. they are fishing.
“We’ve been on-and-popping since we were 12 years old,” said Demi, while sitting at the dinner table covered in fresh fried grouper after a long day on the boat. “Straight saving money.”
The two are saving their money from their 500 lobster traps and 800 crab traps to buy their own boat. They’ve been borrowing the “Catch-N-Like Crazy” for the past three years and made $70,000 last year manning the 24-foot boat solo. What they’ll name their new boat, they don’t know yet. They have no interest in video games, only fishing, and sometimes Miami Heat basketball.
“They didn’t go to preschool,” said commercial fisherman Richie Stiglitz, “they were out on the boat fishing with me. They learned a lot traveling with me from Naples, to Key West, to the Tortugas and back.”
Demi used to play football, but said all he ever thought about was fishing. He hopes to go to college for marine mechanics after graduation so he can fix his own boat when issues arise. Peder just wants to fish. When school starts, they will work the traps only on the weekends, but during the summer they are out every day. “We have to have A’s, B’s, and C’s,” said Demi. “If not, dad won’t let us go.” Both keep their grades high so they won’t be docked for a semester.
The two trade off pulling traps and captaining the boat. And, when they aren’t trapping, they love spearfishing and going to the sandbar. Both have their learner’s permits for driving on the road, but have had their boater’s license since they were 10.
Fishing out of Keys Fisheries in Marathon, Richie says he sits on the dock in the evenings waiting for the kid’s boat lights to appear over the horizon. They said their only close calls have been lightning strikes, and waterspouts. But dad says he never worries about them. “All the fishermen watch out for them,” he said. “These two boys right here are true watermen.”