New Jersey breeds a lot of fisherman, and IBEW member Rick DiBruno is one of the most passionate. Growing up in south Philly, Rick’s family spent summers in Wildwood, New Jersey, where his father taught him to fish at 6-years-old in a rented rowboat. He was immediately smitten. As Rick got older, he began fishing from the beach, under bridges and in the back bay.
“I crafted myself into a decent back bay fisherman,” said Rick, who always yearned for the chance to go sailfishing in the warm waters of Costa Rica. “I dream about it all the time. I’ve always respected the sailfish. They are so beautiful with that top fin and the way they jump out of the water.”
Little did Rick know his dream was about to come true when he applied for Escape to the Wild, a TV program of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) and sponsoring unions and contractor associations that takes hardworking union members on the hunting or fishing trip of a lifetime.
“I was really surprised I won,” said Rick, who learned he would soon be chasing sailfish in Costa Rica at a mock fundraiser his wife helped arrange. “My wife made up a flyer and everything. The flyer said the fundraiser was presented by BlueBone, a band I know and love.”
According to Rick, who joined IBEW Local 351 as an electrician 22 years ago, the union has taught him about brotherhood and looking out for one another. In the winter of 2001, Rick was working overtime to save for a Christmas present trip to Disney World for his wife and two children. While driving home from an overtime shift, he fell asleep and crashed into a tree, breaking his leg in three places. The accident put him out of work for six months, during which time his union brothers and sisters took up a collection for him and his family. It was a rough road to recovery, but Rick was able to go back to work and, last June, he headed to Costa Rica to fulfill his dream.
“We fished for wahoo, tuna, rainbow runner, rooster fish and sailfish. The final sailfish was the most exciting,” said Rick, who also enjoyed learning more about conservation.
“Instead of J-hooks, which I’m used to, we used circle hooks. That’s a totally different style of fishing,” Rick said. “You let the fish run with the line until it becomes tight. Then you count to six and basically wait for the fish to catch itself. Ninety percent of the time, the hook catches the fish in the mouth, so they don’t swallow it. It was a great experience for me.”
When he wasn’t fishing, Rick enjoyed his accommodations in the beautiful Los Suenos resort.
“The food was fabulous,” he said. “They cooked us different fish every night.” Plus, he got a great overview of Costa Rica’s tropical forests upside down on a zip line.
To top off his dream fishing trip, Rick received a free membership in the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA). According to Rick, “Being a member of the USA is the perfect way to keep abreast of hunting and fishing news and issues.”
Join brother Rick DiBruno on his dream sailfish trip in Costa Rica. Tune in to VERSUS on Friday, January 18th at 7p.m. (ET) or Sunday at 10a.m. (ET)