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January 1, 2000

Lifestyle: Most traders are early risers. Meet one trader who rises before the birds.

By Sanford Wexler

Traders are accustomed to rising in the wee hours. Frank Gaul, Jr. a Nasdaq position trader with Boston-based firm Adams, Harkness & Hill, rolls out of bed at 3:30 a.m. when most traders are still turning in their sleep.

Is Gaul an insomniac? A modern father who rises to attend a new born baby? Ah, perhaps he is trading in the twilight after-hours zone? Not even close.

Gaul is an avid, fly fisherman. And his frequent fishing expeditions off the coast of Massachusetts in a small boat brings him the perfect breather from the hectic world of split-second, buy and sell decisions.

"I have no problem getting up at 3:30 in the morning and going out fishing until seven o'clock at night," quipped Gaul, who's 28. "It's a lot easier to get up at that time than to get up at six to come into the office."

Early Bird

Many traders rise at sunrise to get the lowdown on the latest financial news. Fisherman-cum-traders like Gaul have another reason for rising even earlier. "Fish are very light sensitive," he explained. Best to catch them under the cover of darkness. "When the sun comes up they can't see that well. That's when there are a lot of fish around."

Gaul has been fishing ever since he can remember. "I've been fishing since I was three years old," he said. "I've always worked down by the water. I was a launch driver for five years at a club and that put me in touch with a lot of guys who do commercial fishing."

Now, Gaul spends his days off with a few buddies sailing the waters of Massachusetts Bay in pursuit of stripped sea bass and blue fish. He has gone fishing early enough to be back at his desk at Adams, Harkness & Hill before the market opens.

Like beginning stock pickers who manage to choose a high-flying stock on their first buy order, there are novice fishermen who make a big catch on their first try. Gaul recalled how the first time he took his father out fishing he caught a huge, stripped sea bass. "He caught a 37-inch sea bass. He was just out of his mind," Gaul said.

The highly-competitive, Boston stock trader felt no envy whatsoever.

"I like to see people have a good time and enjoy the sport," he said. Over the years, Gaul has indeed made some incredible catches. He once snapped up a 260-pound blue shark.

Wonderful Sights

Besides the satisfaction of flinging out the fishing line and hauling back a big catch, Gaul revels in the wonderful sights of wildlife that can be seen only thirty miles off the coast of Massachusetts. "We can see whale upon whale upon whale," he said. "One time we saw a 650-pound tuna come flying out of the water."

Experienced traders will tell you that working a desk is a team effort. The same holds true for fly fishing. "If I catch a 300-pound blue shark and I'm on a boat with two other guys, we all win," Gaul said. "If one guy wins, we all win."