Big Game Fishing Journal - TWO IF BY SEA
When RJ and Cody Melton are on the offshore grounds pursuing bigeye and yellowfin tuna for clients of Jersey Nutz Sportfishing, the brothers know they are in sync. From which set-ups they will use to where they will be placed in the spread to what to do when fish start crashing the baits, they work as a team.
“I don’t have to turn around to look back at the spread, because everything is as I want it,” R.J. Melton said.
“We know what each other is thinking,” Cody Melton said.
“We know what the other is thinking, but we have different ideas,” RJ said. “We grew up around boats and fishing, so we know the other knows what he’s doing.”
The brothers’ different ideas aren’t simply about whether they will change lures or tactics or even how long they will stay in a spot or at the canyon. “Sometimes even the customers are telling him they are ready to get off the boat, and he’s looking to keep fishing,” Cody said with a chuckle.
The different ideas extend more deeply into the lives they lead, both on and off the water. RJ is the captain of their charter boat, Jersey Nutz, a 53-foot custom Carolina. Cody is the captain of a 50-foot Henriques that’s privately owned. And while RJ world is fishing 24-7, Cody’s path is far different: the 24-year-old also is working on his master’s degree and is a high school wrestling coach.
“He’ll fish in anything,” Cody said of RJ, who runs the boat and fishes every possible day, going nonstop during the height of the offshore season. Cody, meanwhile, welcomes the schedule he has running the privately owned boat, where he’s fishing at a more leisurely rate from April through September.
“That would drive me crazy. I wouldn’t be able to fish enough,” RJ said. “It works for him.”
It works for Cody, in part because it allows him to juggle those pursuits while helping his older brother with Jersey Nutz. They ran 90 trips offshore in 2018, and Cody said he’s pleased with the growth the business has had since they started in 2012. Running a charter boat was RJ’s dream. Cody, who’s five years younger, was getting ready to start his freshman year at The College of New Jersey. While RJ ran the boat, Cody was the mate. Like most siblings, it took time to figure out what worked best to make the business and the boat run smoothly.
“We each have our roles,” Cody said.
The brothers grew up around boats and fishing, and both learned their way around diesel engines in the family’s business, Melton Industries. The company sells, services and remanufactures diesel engines for commercial and military purposes. Cody still works for their father five days a week at the shop, helping to run the business that’s been operating since 1949.
In conversation, it’s clear Cody is something of an old soul. His thoughts and approach are what you would expect to hear from someone much older than 24. He’s more analytical, and soaked in the business side of things while helping in the family business. RJ, meanwhile, found his niche on the mechanical side. “I always tell people my dad is the best mechanic I know. But RJ is right there with him,” Cody said.