Since I was recently asked this question, and I passed this short story along....
One of the most noted New England bigfish cod Captain - Tom Lukegord
I have given this one particular question some thought, and from what I see you can list a number of “specialist” category captains who excelled at either top water or bottom fishing, or the “five tool” captains who could makes fish catches of any species they targeted as well as anyone…. and finally the captains who transitioned from the pre-electronic navigation period to the Loran-C era and opened up new fishing grounds for offshore fishing. But if there is one fishery where most of the legendary captains are noted for and personally there is one, codfish, and where a captain stood out among the finest of his peers as far for the record size fish he would put his customers on, and fishing no further than 30 miles from his port on a vessel that would be considered by many “archaic” for that particular fishery, Captain Tom Lukegord of the Nicole-Renee would be at the very top in the northeast region for-hire industry.
I never had the pleasure or good fortune to have fished with him, but based on what I have been told by those who have been around “the best” when it comes to cod fishing, this one captain, who cut his teeth with the Yankee Fleet, and then became a student of, and then, the pre-eminent professor of the inshore ground fishery off the “Bank.”
Few have ever heard of his epic catches of cow-size codfish over 60 lbs, or the number of halibut put on his vessel and to think this was before braided line, ultra sharp hooks and CNC framed reels that could put out more than 25 lbs of drag...yes old school fishing tackle being used to catch these trophy groundfish. In fact the record size Atlantic Halibut off 255 lbs was caught on board his 60 foot wooden vessel (note it was topped by a larger halibut caught in Norway but still is the 50-pound line class record Atlantic Halibut), and few if anyone knew that this particular summer in which he caught this record size for handgear - halibut, he was driving his vessel around on one engine as he didn’t have the funds to fix the other engine.
Before the “Whaleback” became the known inshore hot spot fishing grounds to easily catch a 40 or more pound cod in the spring even up to a few years ago, Captain Lukegord was considered the master of fishing the mud bottom and rock piles just south of this area. As I said, few knew, since he was not a “self-promoter,” and in fact was noted for being particularly quiet on the radio…except his very loyal customers who traveled to Gloucester MA., then were treated to top notch cod fishing in Massachusetts Bay, or out to mussel spikes around the Bank or an area just off Cape Ann known as Eagle Ridge.
From what I was told, he may have been the first to find and codfish off the recently discovered, long lost and hunted for Portland wreck on the Bank. Yes, many of the great party boat codfish captains were known for traveling 50, 60 or more miles to put their customers into those very special “cow codfish” on steel and aluminum hulled super cruisers…. and to put it into perspective, he was catching these fish during the eighties and nineties within an hour, two, three or slightly more steam from the dock on a 10 knot vessel. As Captain Greg Mercurio noted, "it is much easier to be able to steam out to an unfished or lightly fished far offshore area and catch fish. Try doing this in areas close to shore and where other party, charter and private boats can easily reach on a day trip."
Interestingly enough, as few fishermen south of Cape Cod knew of his cod fishing exploits, his name came to became more widely known in New England in 2005 when he was caught and then admitted to the USCG that he purposely scuttled the “shot” Nicole-Renee, off the same fishing grounds where he used to bring fishermen to catch trophy sized codfish.
It is one thing for many of us to name some of the great party boat cod fishing captains…..it’s another when his peers unhesitatingly say, “the best, Captain Tom Lukegord.”