I went deep sea fishing... and I won!

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." - Chinese Proverb

I was excited when they said to me “Would you like to go out on a behind the scenes deep-sea fishing trip?” Did you really have to ask? The beauty of being out on the water was enough for me. I couldn’t imagine living in a land locked area. Jacksonville gives you the opportunity to experience water in all forms. We have creeks, rivers, lakes and the ocean, all available for water-related activities. Also, since I consider myself a lady fisherman from tagging along with my granny over the years, where do I sign up?

A Chartered Trip

We started our day at the Morningstar Marina at about one in the afternoon. This was a bonus, considering in all my years of fishing with my granny, she made us get up at the crack of dawn. There we met with Captain Don Dingman of Hook the Future and sports author Bob McNally. Armed with my personal cooler, jacket, snacks and excitement, we boarded Capt. Don’s Salt Life sponsored 30ft boat and headed out through the St. Johns River inlet into the open Atlantic.

In Search of Red Fish

As we used the high-tech radars to decide upon the best place to drop anchor, Capt. Don and Bob McNally explained that we would be fishing for red fish. Red fish are one of the most popular sport fish in Florida, also known as red drum. They explained the cycle of the red fish and the rules of sports fishing. Apparently, the waters coming right after hurricane season is a great time for a red fish spawn. Being that I’d never fished from a boat I was excited about the extra gear needed to guarantee a great catch. There is a belt-like mechanism that you must wear that holds your pole while you are reeling the fish in. One of its sole purposes is to keep the fish from snatching you off the boat, so it is quite important.

Catch and Release

Once we started reeling in fish, much of what was taught became a blur after seeing the size of the fish and imagining all the ways I would prepare it to eat. Imagine my disappointment when my first catch was 42 inches and they told me to name it, tag it and release it back to sea. Competitively, I caught the biggest fish on board, but I will likely never become a sports fisherman - I have to be able to eat what I catch. Since I couldn’t take him home to eat, my prize catch ‘VJax’ is somewhere out to sea dodging hooks and growing into someone else’s prize catch. In Florida, you can keep up to two red fish per person per day, that are 18” to 27” (other regulations apply). If you would like to test the waters on recreational and sports fishing, check out one of Jacksonville’s many fishing charters.

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