Fishing / POSTED 13-Mar-2024

The Self-Taught Captain Becomes the Teacher

Yamaha Captain Krista Miller doesn’t like to hear the words “you can’t.” At the age of 40, she changed her career completely, bought a boat and got her Master Captain's License. When the local outfitter she was paying to book her scheduled mostly pleasure cruises and sightseeing trips, she decided to take a huge risk and establish her business as an independent fishing charter. 

Her brother Bryan helped her learn the basics, then encouraged her to listen to her soul, and just get out there and invest the time and effort needed to teach herself. He reminded her that she had 40 years of experience to "catch up with,” and he could never recreate every combination of tide, wind, weather, water quality or condition she would be faced with when charter fishing.

Bryan once told her, "if you can't find the fish, stop overthinking it and listen to your soul - these waters are in our DNA, it's in your blood to know what to do and where to fish. Stop and listen."

“I had to take a leap. I was the first full-time female captain on the island. It’s a decision I will never regret because my business has done nothing but grow,” said Krista. “I now have regular customers who return every year to book with me. It’s great to reconnect with these families, to watch their kids grow and change over the years – it’s incredibly rewarding.”


The path to success was not easy and a lot of work on her part to teach herself not only how to fish but how to manage her boat and her customers.

“I’ve made so many errors during my career I can’t even count them,” she said.  “I cried under my Costas® a million times, but I got back up and kept at it because giving up wasn’t an option. I felt that I owed it to all the young girls on the sidelines who would either be motivated by my success or discouraged by my failure in this male-dominated industry, so I had to keep pushing.”

Krista’s Island Charters ( now successfully partners eight to 10 guides, and she personally goes out on 400-plus trips a year, most in the summer, fall break and end of year holidays.  

Now a decade after she started her charter business, Krista finds herself becoming less of a “captain” and more of a “teacher” to the lucky customers who book trips on her boat. She especially enjoys fostering confidence in women and children.

“Many women don’t want to try to do things like back a trailer or run the boat because they’ve never been told they can do it,” said Krista. “I love to put women in the driver’s seat to show them what they can really do on the boat. I call it the ‘Taylor Swift’ effect. Just like Taylor with young girls, many of the women who go out on my charters can relate to me. They see something of themselves in what I am doing and realize they can do it too. That’s when the lightbulb goes on and suddenly, they are hooked, often out-fishing their husbands. I live for those moments.”


In Krista’s opinion, the key to achieving anything is confidence.  She believes that confidence in just one thing can change a perspective and foster success in other areas of life as well. 

“I have been through every life experience you can think of just by learning to fish, and all of it has made me more confident,” she said. “I tell my customers that there is no such thing on my boat as a dumb question, and there are no failures while we are on the water, only lessons.”

Krista became a student herself again last fall when she participated in the Bassmaster® Redfish Cup for the very first time with co-angler and Yamaha pro Scott Canterbury. 

“I learned so much during the Redfish Cup. This was my very first time fishing a major tournament and the pressure is extreme. I’m used to being required to catch fish during four-hour time slots in my home waters, but fishing from a new location was eye opening and challenging.

“What I took from that experience now helps remind myself that, just like me in the tournament, my customers don’t know their surroundings when they are on my boat.
It’s all new to them. That experience made me a better teacher.”

The Redfish Cup also gave Krista a new understanding of the influence the sport of competitive fishing has on enthusiastic young fans. 


“It was amazing to see the kids come from miles around just to see these pros fish. They are like heroes to them, and I was lucky enough to spend time listening to their questions and watching legends like Scott really spend the time talking to them. It was a great reminder of the positive influence fishing can have in young lives, which is another thing I try to keep top of mind when I host families on my boat.”

Krista finds lots of teaching moments during her charters, from measuring fish with a ruler to determine whether or not they are “keepers,” to explaining more about local wildlife and the importance of environmental stewardship. This year, she plans to initiate a trash “buy back” program into her charters that include exploration of the islands. If a family fills up a trash bag while they are out looking for shells, they will get a discount on their charter fee.

The teaching phase of her career is one Krista not only enjoys, she also believes it’s in her blood as much as fishing.

“When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a teacher like my mom, but she discouraged it,” said Krista. “Once again, you just can’t tell me not to do something. I believe the best teachers are those who still have a passion for learning themselves. I learn something every time I go out on the water.


“I tell people all the time, ‘You are going to make mistakes every time you go out there and that’s good!’ That’s where the magic is – going outside of your comfort zone and learning to love something new. I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to teach that magic every day.”

For more information or to book a charter with Captain Krista, visit

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