Olin Marler Charters started as just a weekend venture

Published: Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 05:11 PM.

DESTIN — For nearly 50 years, Olin Marler was able to take what started as a side business on the weekends and grow it into what at one time was the largest individually owned recreational fishing fleet in Florida.

Marler’s business has stood the test of time and his name has been synonymous with Destin and the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.

“I can’t tell you how many boats will come up and go under,” said Greg Fisher, marketing manager for Olin Marler Charters. “It’s a hard business. Olin managed to do it for all those years. It’s not easy to do.

“I think Olin’s business had a huge impact on the growth of the industry down here,” Fisher added.

Marler, 78, has been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis as was not well enough to comment on this story.

Initially, charter boat fishing was just a weekend job. While he worked full time at Vitro Services, a defense contractor now known as BAE Systems, Marler’s friend Mike Destin urged him to get involved in the charter boat business.

Marler purchased his first charter boat in 1965 for $2,000, which is about the cost of a 12-hour fishing trip on one of his boats today. His wife at the time did not want him to give up the guaranteed income and insurance Vitro provided, and persuaded him to take fishing trips mainly on the weekends.

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