Barry Gibson was a legend in the marine publishing industry.

Barry Gibson
Barry Gibson

The marine publishing industry lost a giant in October with the passing of Barry Gibson, who served as the co-publisher with William E. Taylor of Center Console Life magazine, and earlier Fish Boat Registry. 

Gibson, 72, passed away at his home in East Boothbay, Maine after a battle with cancer. The Boston native spent more than 50 years in marine publishing, including 23 years as the top editor at Salt Water Sportsman magazine.

“Our industry lost a kind soul and an amazing editor,” said Gregg Mansfield, editor of Center Console Life. “He was passionate about fishing, passionate about journalism and proud of his family. Barry lived life to the fullest and he will be greatly missed.”

We couldn’t write Gibson’s obituary any better, so we’re running it unedited. 

Rest in peace Barry Gibson

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, on Feb. 6, 1951, to Joseph W. and Marjorie (Jacobs) Gibson, Barry graduated from Winchester (MA) High School in 1969 and from the University of Miami with a BA in English in 1973. Upon graduation he went to work at Boston Harbor Marina and crewed on several Boothbay area tour boats during summers. He obtained his captain’s license in 1972 and started a fishing charter business with his first boat, the 25-foot Sasanoa, and several years later bought a 27-footer he named Shark as a tribute to Capt. Joe Russell, a Key West charter skipper who guided Ernest Hemingway and who had a boat named Shark that Barry fished on several times in the early ’70s.

In 1977 Barry went to work for Salt Water Sportsman in downtown Boston as the associate editor and was named the magazine’s editor in 1981, the position he held for 23 additional years. He was responsible for the publication’s editorial content during this period, and supervised 30 home staffers, art directors and field editors and worked with over 100 contributors. After his retirement from SWS in 2004, he served as associate publisher of Fish Boats Registry, as editor-in-chief of Center Console Angler magazine, as co-publisher of Center Console Life, and wrote the Saltwater Column for Maine Sportsman for 37 years, from 1986 to 2023.

A long-time proponent of responsible fishery management and the public’s access to marine resources for recreational fishing, Barry served on numerous state, federal, and international boards, including three U.S. Secretary of Commerce appointments to the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) (three 3-year terms, Chairman 1992), and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) Advisory Committee. He served as the New England Regional Director for the Recreational Fishing Alliance from 2005 until 2023, and as chair and then vice-chair of the NEFMC Recreational Advisory Panel from 2000 until 2023. He also served as a member of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Committee, the Maine Sea Grant Policy Advisory Committee, the Boothbay Port Committee, and was vice-president of the Northeast Charterboat Captains Association, a professional organization he co-founded in 1988. On top of all this he found time to coach his Beverly (MA) Little League team, the Yankees, for a number of seasons.

Barry fished in major venues in North, Central, and South America for over 45 years, and is a former IGFA World Record holder for Pacific bigeye tuna on a fly rod. He contributed over 1,000 feature articles, columns, and photos to many outdoor magazines including Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, Yachting, Salt Water Sportsman, Angler’s Journal, Soundings, and Sports Illustrated, and won three Boating Writers International awards. He appeared as Guest Pro on TV fishing shows including “Mark Sosin’s Saltwater Journal” and “George Poveromo’s World of Saltwater Fishing,” and regularly co-hosted the New England stop on the Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series tour. He had been a marine surveyor for Atlantic & Pacific Marine Consultants since 2005, performing over 300 insurance surveys on damaged vessels along the Maine coast.

A well-known charter boat captain and Registered Maine Guide in Boothbay Harbor since 1971, Barry was named one of Salt Water Sportsman’s World’s Top 50 Charter Boat Captains in 2014. He had a cutting-edge Downeast-style 36-foot sportfisherman, Shark IV, built in 1993 by Bradley Simmons, and enthusiastically chased striped bass during the past 16 seasons in his 28-foot Shark Six.

In recent years Barry particularly enjoyed his time with Tim, Jeff and Johnna, Al, Norman, Chuck, and many other friends at the umbrella table on the dock at Brown’s Wharf Marina, as well as with members of the Boothbay Region Fish & Game Association where he had served as secretary since 2006. He always looked forward to his annual spring trout fishing trip to Bosebuck Mountain Camps with Steve Rubicam, and enjoyed spending time with his two wonderful grandchildren.

He is survived by his loving wife of 42 years, Jean Reese-Gibson, who accompanied him and took photos on many charters and foreign fishing adventures; his son Mike Gibson and his wife Erin and their children Jake and Samantha of Boxford, Massachusetts, and a cousin, Richard Dodd, and his partner Ron Crofoot of New York City.

Barry wanted to extend his heartfelt appreciation to his many friends who contacted him regularly during his illness to express their support and encouragement, which included Tim Brown, Jim Donofrio, Pete Santini, Al Barter, Mike Pierdinock, George Poveromo, Dennis Blackman, Jeff Pendleton, Bradley Simmons, Dave Morel, Christine and the late Steve Rubicam, Larry Grimard, Sue and Paul Taylor, Rip Cunningham, Tom Hill, Michelle Wilson and Joan Brown, Bob Damrell, Peter Drapeau, Susan Whitehouse, Chris and Betsy Betts, Chris Webber, Bob McEarchern, and Dr. Tom Look.

At Barry’s request there will be no service. He loved cats, and donations in
his name may be made to Community Cat Advocates, 63 Darnit Road, Buckfield, ME 04220 or online at