Boston’s movers and shakers hit the high seas as a high-powered fishing crew.
Some of Boston’s heaviest hitters start the day with what Boston Ballet artistic director Mikko Nissinen calls the “Zen-like” sport of fishing.
“Let’s get out there!” exclaims Mikko Nissinen, Boston Ballet’s artistic director. “The water’s like glass.” It’s 6 am on a dock in Quincy’s Marina Bay. Nissinen has to be at City Hall for a presentation at 11 am, dressed in his signature black business suit, which is hanging in his car. But right now, right here, the only thing Nissinen is thinking about is whether today is a white or orange bait day.
He is not alone. His director of corporate and institutional relations, Richard Armstrong—again, mostly spotted around town in a suit and tie, encircled by the most elegant of ballet dancers—cracks dirty jokes while checking the rods. The pair heads up an all-star crew of other Boston heavy hitters, brought together by another kind of casting call: for striped bass, tuna, blue fin.
There’s Summit Partners’ Stephen Woodsum, Ernst & Young’s Jim Clubb, psychologist Wayne Frieden, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Jeffrey Bellows, Hill Holliday’s Andrew Still, Commonwealth Capital Ventures’ Jeff Hurst, and Admirals Bank’s Nicholas Lazares. The gang hits the water at every possible chance—before work, after work, every weekend.
“Fishing is my priority in my free time, if the weather is good,” says Nissinen, who has traveled to Belize, Panama, the Florida Keys, the West Coast, Iceland, Finland, and up and down the East Coast for the Big One. “The battle with a big fish is indescribable—a huge challenge and huge fun.” Like ballet, fishing requires coordination, patience, hard work, and dedication. “There’s a Zen-like quality to fishing. When you’re in it, you’re in it.”
Plus, the fundraisers and galas that the ballet hosts provide ample opportunity to add to the crew. “You see guys with sunglass tans, quirky fishing accessories—for example, a belt with fish on it—that they mix up with their business attire, or just something they say, and you ask, ‘Do you fish?’ And it’s like, ‘Hell, yeah, I fish,’” says Armstrong—Captain Armstrong, actually—who also owns Boston Fishstix, a fishing charter company.
On this particular morning, calm seas and mild breezes prevail. Seagulls swarm a patch of water. “There’s a good spot!” Bellows says. Captain Armstrong revs the engine. Within 20 seconds, the crew joins the gulls. All joking stops. Dead silence. Furrowed brows. The hunt is on.