These stories sound a little fishy

ChicagoBusiness.com
Jul 06, 2013
By: 
Shia Kapos
Photo of Sean Conlon next to fishing stream

Glenn Horton was deep-sea fishing 30 miles out from his Key Largo, Fla., home last summer when his line became so tight he thought he had hooked a rock or coral.
It turned out to be a swordfish so heavy and long "we had to use a forklift to get it out of the boat," says the chairman and CEO of Orland Park-based insurance brokerage Horton Group.
The fish measured 13 feet and weighed 400 pounds.
"I love to fish because it gets my mind off business," Mr. Horton says. "I can't say it's relaxing."
Chicago executives can be buttoned up about business, but for those who fish, well, they're happy to share a tale or two about how they caught a whopper.
Bob Wislow was on the Madison River in Ruby Springs, Mont., six years ago when he caught a 22-inch brown trout. "I saw it on the far other side of the river, across multiple currents," recalls the chairman and CEO of Chicago-based U.S. Equities Realty LLC.
"I tried casting different flies. You could see it sitting there with its head bobbing out of the water just eating flies. My buddy said we should move on, but I wasn't going until I landed this big fish."
Twenty casts later, Mr. Wislow reeled it in and then, as many big fishermen do, released it. "It's more about the hunt than it is about the fish," he says.
Civic Committee President Ty Fahner once caught a 70-pound tarpon while fishing with Jenner & Block LLP Chairman Tony Valukas off the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica. A mere "minnow," says Mr. Valukas, compared with the 140-pounder he caught that trip.
Philanthropist Marshall Field V got hooked on carp fishing when a 20-pounder grabbed his line.
Dan Barron, a senior vice president at Chicago-based Northern Trust Corp., says the biggest fish he ever caught was a 22.5-inch, 5.5-pound bass in a private lake in northwestern Illinois.
He already had hooked one bass that got away in the weeds. "The older ones do that," he says. He kept at it and 45 minutes later got another bite. "When I opened its mouth to unhook it, down in its gullet was my bait. I caught it twice!"
James Malackowski's big-fish story unfolded 10 years ago when a former business partner invited him to join an annual guys' fishing trip to Costa Rica. It was Day 3 when he saw a marlin jump and the reel of his rod start to spin.
Etiquette says he should have shared time at the reel with others on the boat, but Mr. Malackowski, chairman and CEO of Chicago-based Ocean Tomo LLC, didn't want to relinquish his turn as it was the first time on the trip he had had a chance to reel in a fish.
"One hour passed, then 90 minutes. Every time the beast got close, it would take a dive and pull out all the line I worked so hard to collect," he recalls.
Two hours and a sunburn later, Mr. Malackowski says, "I won the battle."
The captain measured the marlin alongside the boat at 18 feet and estimated the catch at 800 pounds. “I'm told it was the biggest catch in the village for a number of years,” he says. “My friends invited me back the next year, but I passed, thinking my experience could never be topped.”
Real estate entrepreneur Sean Conlon (above) is a self-described “fanatical fisherman” who has waded through the waters of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, British Columbia and Newfoundland. He's caught a 30-pound mahi mahi in the Bahamas and a 20-pound trevally in the Seychelles.
“Fishing gives you an excuse to go to some of the most beautiful places in the world,” he says, acknowledging that as years pass the size of the fish might grow.
After all, he says, “Fishing is one sport where lying is considered an art form.”