NAPLES — Jimmy Perry is a hard-working football coach and commercial fisherman, who was born in Naples. Always having a passion for time afloat, he has been fishing since the age of 5. He owns and operates Big Jimmy’s, a small business that provides customers from Immokalee to Okeechobee, and everywhere in between, with delicious, locally caught, fresh fish, shrimp and crabs.
“Before I became a commercial fisherman, I use to crab with a chicken neck and fishing line. I would sell the crabs and make garlic crabs to make some extra cash,” said Perry. He has been crabbing commercially for three years, and has made quite a name for himself.
“His garlic crabs and shrimp are the best!” said Wayne Drumm, a customer from LaBelle. “We get them from him on game days, birthdays, anniversaries, or for any excuse we can find to celebrate and eat them.”
Perry’s parents moved to Naples in the ’60s, and growing up surrounded by saltwater, he figured it would be “a perfect to start a seafood business.”
“My life consisted of sports, up until I was done with college. Growing up, you could always catch me playing football or fishing,” he explained. “My whole family is athletic, so sports was my way into college — which helped me further my education, career and networking.” After college he spent more and more time on the water crabbing, fishing and shrimping.
Perry’s hobbies also consist of hunting, working out and traveling to new and old cities. As a football coach, he often has players from his team help out on the boat. Especially when his deckhand isn’t available.
“I have three guys I really trust. Jhordan, Kamonte, and Blake,” said Perry.
When asked about the perks of crabbing and commercial fishing, he said, “My favorite part of what I do is watching the sunrise every morning.”
As for the hard parts, “The biggest challenge I face with my business is distance. Many customers don’t want to drive over an hour away to get seafood, so we’ve had to travel to move a lot of product — when I don’t take it all to the fish house. Eventually, I plan to have my own crab shack and host special events on the holidays.”
He said the hope is that having a store front will eliminate all the moving around.