Captain Steven Lamp of Dream Catcher Charters in Key West, Fla., is a professional guide and entrepreneur with a penchant for performance. For more than 20 years Capt. Lamp has consulted on the development of Mercury Racing propellers and outboards, including the Verado 400R and the Mercury Racing 60R that powers his Beavertail Skiff 17 Elite technical flats skiff. Lamp is “bi-lingual” in that he can speak to the concerns of a pro guide who demands day-to-day reliability, and to the desires of a powerboat performance enthusiast who genuinely enjoys going fast on the water. From his office on the waters surrounding the Key West, Capt. Lamp is able to offer expert analysis based on his experiences running a variety of boats loaded with fuel, gear and clients, all powered by Mercury Racing outboards. This feedback has been valuable to Mercury Racing engineers seeking to put products to the test in real-world situations.
The Dream Catchers fleet includes 11 boats, ranging in length from 17 to 47 feet. Capt. Lamp understands that in the real world total performance is more important than raw speed. He’s concerned with hole shot, handling, balance, and the ways weight distribution affect fuel economy and how his boat rests in the water as he glides over the flats. Better economy means he can start the day with less fuel in the tank, and a lighter load means the boat rests higher in the water. Gaining just a few inches of draft makes more of the flats accessible, and that’s often where the big fish lurk.
Capt. Lamp does enjoy the occasional full-throttle blast. He brought his 2,800-pound Yellowfin 24 Bay Carbon Elite boat to the Mercury Racing test site at Lake X in central Florida to test gearcase and propeller options for the Mercury Racing 300R and 450R outboards, reaching speeds well over 80 mph. That’s too fast for trolling, but it seems even a professional guide can’t resist the temptation to run Wide Open on occasion.
Dream Catcher Charters takes pride in putting its clients on the biggest fish, in the skinniest water.
With a Dream Catcher guide on the poling platform, the angler is essentially on his own, tasked with making a pin-point cast and the perfect presentation required to entice a gamefish, and then employing skill and patience to get the hard-fighting, acrobatic fish to the boat.