At just 8 years old, Steve Roth was already chasing big fish. The senior deputy general counsel of Parkland Health & Hospital System would wake up at dawn with his brother and father, and the three would make sandwiches, pick up bait, and venture to the lake to see what was biting. Some days they didn’t catch anything. Other days, the trio snapped up dozens of trout, crappie, and sunfish. Though the lake fish were guppies compared to what he would catch later in life, the childhood fishing trips were the beginning of what would become Roth’s lifelong passion for deep sea fishing.
“I really just love being outdoors,” says Roth, a native of Harrisburg, Pa. “The fresh air, the open sea, the salt air … it’s so appealing to me.”
The appeal has been strong for Roth since childhood. He took his first deep sea fishing trip around age 11, when his family decided to take a week-long vacation to Avalon, a small town on the northern shore of New Jersey. Each day, the Roth family rented a boat and traveled into the open sea seeking a big catch. “It was really exciting to me that you could catch things far bigger than what I was used to catching in a lake or river,” Roth says.
The family found Roth’s excitement contagious, and the trip became an annual tradition. Today, Roth continues the tradition with his wife and 10-year-old son and fishing partner, Adam, who most of the time catches more than dear old dad.
“It’s taught me patience … but it’s also taught me that there’s always an opportunity.”Steve Roth, Parkland
While the Roths have broken away from Avalon, they still take trips at least twice a year, always using fishing opportunities to determine the destination. Most recently, the family traveled to Alaska, something Roth calls “the trip of a lifetime.” The family started in Anchorage and traveled down the Kenai River, where the Roths engaged in a variety of fishing including fly fishing and lake fishing. But nothing compares to Roth’s favorite: deep sea halibut fishing. “Some of the halibut we saw were the size of a barn door,” Roth says, telling the story of his all-time largest catch. “The one I caught was about 60 pounds.”
Although Roth will never forget his Alaska trip, he favors Mexican destinations, visiting Playa del Carmen and Puerto Vallarta often. His all-time favorite destination is Cabo San Lucas.
“Cabo is so rugged. It’s close to nature, and it’s just beautiful,” Roth says. “The sheer size of the fish that you have the potential of catching makes it so exciting. It’s just one of the best fishing grounds in the world.”
Roth’s favorite fishing moment was in Cabo when he hooked a marlin and fought it for nearly an hour, watching it leap eight to 10 feet out of the sea. Eventually, the fish threw the hook, setting a new goal for Roth: catch a marlin on his next trip to Cabo.
Roth’s passion for deep sea fishing has taught him a thing or two about business, too, and has even helped him fulfill his role at Parkland, which has more than 12,000 employees and provides care to more than 1 million patients annually. “It’s taught me patience, for one thing,” Roth says. “But it’s also taught me that there’s always an opportunity. In anything you do, there’s always an opportunity you can take advantage of.”
Roth says he plans to continue seeking opportunities, especially as chief counsel of Parkland’s Center for Clinical Innovation, which uses real-time predictive analytics and electronic medical records to provide healthcare professionals with intervention and warning tools for patient care. “It’s a lot of machine-learning using artificial intelligence and natural language processing,” Roth says. “It’s kind of where the future of medicine is heading.”
As for Roth’s future? His mind is always on his son Adam, whom he hopes will develop into a caring and socially conscious adult, and his work at Parkland. But every now and then his thoughts stray to something a bit more near-term: catching that stubborn marlin that taunted him in Cabo.
Steve Roth is Senior deputy general counsel at Parkland Health & Hospital System