‘He was as local as they come’: Fishing community mourns loss of beloved captain

The late Capt. Roger Gales shows off a hefty gag grouper.
The late Capt. Roger Gales shows off a hefty gag grouper. www.oifc.com

There will be a big void in the years to come at Ocean Isle Fishing Center (OIFC) in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.

The McMullan family, which owns and operates the fishing center, are mourning the untimely death of Capt. Roger Gales, a well-rounded fisherman who made his mark at the OIFC and throughout Brunswick County.

Gales died of complications from lung cancer and pneumonia on Oct. 18 at the age of 48 and is survived by his wife, Darla, and daughter, Paisley, among others.

Gales was a native of Shallotte, N.C., a true local in the coastal area of Brunswick County.

“He was as local as they come,” said Capt. Brant McMullan of the OIFC.

Gales cut his teeth on the water working on shrimp boats, but when his sister, Amy, married Brant McMullan in 2000, his focus switched to offshore fishing with his new brother-in-law.

“Roger was always a water man,” said McMullan. “He had all the skills of handling boats and being on the water, he just needed me to point him in the right direction as far as the offshore stuff.”

After about four years working as a mate under the guidance of Capt. Brant, Gales earned his Captain’s License in 2005 and began operating a charter boat out of the OIFC.

Thus began the legacy of Capt. Roger.

Capt. Roger, who specialized in targeting wahoo and grouper, became well-known as a selfless, mischievous character, quick to share a laugh or lend fishing expertise.

His easy-going, helpful, hard-working nature endeared him to charter customers, co-workers and fellow fishermen alike.

For the last handful of years, Capt. Roger’s career on the water took another turn, as he worked on dredge boats and began operating Ollie Raja charters out of Holden Beach.

“He made the day-to-day grind of charter fishing a joy for all of those that worked around him,” McMullan wrote in a tribute to Gales on OIFC.com. “He mentored young fishermen as they followed his path through mating to becoming a captain. His fishing influence lives on through the dozens of fishermen he taught and helped guide to success.”

McMullan said that Gales’ illness arrived suddenly and unexpectedly.

“With all of Roger’s energy, it does make sense that he used up all his body’s battery life within half a life span — he operated at twice the normal speed of those around him,” McMullan wrote.

So full of life, full of energy and taken from this life too soon. May Capt. Roger rest in peace.

Funds have been set up to help Gales’ family financially, including an education fund for his daughter.

Donations or memorials may be sent to Captain Roger Legacy Fund, P. O. Box 895 Shallotte, NC 28459 or to www.gofundme.com/givelikecaptroger.