Vic Dunaway: Light Touch, Big Results

No, Vic, your passing is unacceptable. I deny that it’s happened.

And yet I can imagine my denial of this reality drawing a response from you something like this:

“Yeah, de Nile is a river I always wanted to explore…”

Vic could defuse the worst of difficult situations with touches of humor, always mixed with rare insights and deeper understandings that many of us tend to miss.

There was the day long ago, in ’85 I think, when the chairman of the new Marine Fisheries Commission set up a face-to-face sitdown between commissioners and the commercial fishing powers and Vic and me. You could sense a verbal bomb ticking. The only question was when the shouting would start.

“Before we get started,” announced Vic. “I should mention a possible conflict of interest.” There ensued a tense silence.

Vic: “Gene Raffield (the state’s largest scale gillnetter at the time) and I may be related by marriage through second cousins…”  Raffield’s eyes flashed open like saucers and he seemed ready for war, but then he and the rest of us burst out laughing and the mood stayed in a civil range.

Getting very serious, Vic explored a sound fisheries management policy which eventually permeated much of state government and some of of federal thinking.

As we’ve hammered on incessantly, the crux of good management is to set levels of protection that may provide the most benefits for the most citizens and the resource. The maximum protection is to allow no take at all, as with sawfish andNassaugrouper. The next level should be to allow a very limited catch with everyone equal, as with snook and redfish.

Then, and only then, should large commercial catches be considered.

Over the years, largely through his boundless sense of humor, Vic fostered the best of recreational fishing conservation.

We’re publishing photo tributes and classic works by Vic in Florida Sportsman Magazine and on our website. Check out one of his classic flyfishing articles.

He was 82 when he drew his last breath peacefully in the night May 17, his very big heart giving out.

Just hours earlier when he was asked how he was doing, he said “What’s not to like? I have three beautiful nurses taking care of everything I need.”

He did allow that he’d like another day out on the water.

I like to think we’ll see him over by that shoreline.

- Karl Wickstrom

  • Robby Robinson

    A class guy, and a great tribute!