Joe Malat has been fishing for more than sixty years. He grew up in Richmond, VA and was fortunate to have a father (the family called him “Big Joe”) who took the time to cultivate his interest in fishing. The pair regularly fished the Chesapeake Bay, the Eastern Shore and the Tidewater area of Virginia. Their first fishing adventure to the Outer Banks of North Carolina was in 1963, the year the bridge spanning Oregon Inlet was completed.
Joe moved from Richmond to the Outer Banks in 1977 and soon thereafter started his surf fishing guide service, “Outer Banks FishFinders.” As a full time surf fishing guide he was privileged to experience the historic "blitzes" of jumbo bluefish in the surf, once-in-a-lifetime catches of trophy red drum and the finest surf fishing the Outer Banks could offer. During this “on the job training” Joe became proficient at finding and catching fish from the beach.
As Joe’s name recognition and reputation grew he secured sponsorships and endorsements from several fishing tackle manufacturers and began appearing at fishing and boating shows along the East Coast as a speaker and seminar presenter.
A career in writing and photography began with a series of articles and fishing reports for The Fisherman magazine. About that time, he started writing a weekly column for a local Outer Banks guidebook, The SurfSide News. A few years later his “Fishing Notebook” column made its debut in the Outer Banks Sentinel newspaper.
Joe has written four books: Pier Fishing, Let’s Go Crabbing! and two editions of Surf Fishing. His work has appeared in Salt Water Sportsman, Sport Fishing, Wildlife in North Carolina, Tide, Carolina Game and Fish, The Raleigh News and Observer, The Island Breeze, Outer Banks Magazine, Florida Sportsman, WaterLine and many other regional and national publications. He is an active member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association and the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association.
In 1993 Joe teamed up with his friend Mac Currin to form the Outer Banks Surf Fishing School. The school featured multi-media, hands-on classroom sessions combined with fishing and instructional sessions on the beach. The team’s casual and interactive teaching style contributed to the school’s popularity and a very successful 19-year run.
In 1989 Joe was hired as the Curator of Exhibits at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island and in 2006 was promoted to Aquarium Director and served in that capacity until he retired in December of 2009.
That same year, Joe and his wife Nell, started another chapter of their life and moved to Punta Gorda, a small town on the southwest coast of Florida, an area they discovered in 1990 when they enjoyed a week on Captiva Island. The great fishing, clear, warm water and laid back lifestyle of this region brought them back annually, most times towing their boat from North Carolina.
Joe and Nell fish the beaches and piers whenever an opportunity presents, but they spend a lot of time in their 22-foot Pathfinder bay boat prowling the waters of Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound and the Gulf of Mexico, chasing snook, tarpon, redfish, and fun.
Every day is a new adventure.