For Max (age 6), one of the highlights of our current trip came last Friday. We went Tarpon Fishing off the coast of Key West, Florida! Max has only been on large boats and I was afraid he might get seasick. So, I was armed with a pediatric brand of motion sickness medicine that only needs to be administered when symptoms appear (so I wouldn’t have to medicate him unnecessarily).
We got up at the crack of dawn, kissed Richard and Mason goodbye (that type of boating is not good for toddlers), and drove to the dock. We met up with Captain Paul D’Antoni of Seize the Day Charters. I found Captain Paul online and was attracted to his website because he said if he couldn’t take us on the trip we wanted, he’d find someone who could (I’d been Googling too long already and was very happy to find someone who offered to help!). We were interested in Tarpon fishing in particular. I’ve wanted to catch a Tarpon for YEARS! Max wanted to catch a Tarpon and a shark… but most of all a shark.
We left the dock and headed to a channel to try to catch a few fish (which is good because Tarpon fishing is challenging and certainly not a guarantee). Max immediately caught a small Snapper and a Grouper. Even though it was a bit rough past the bay, we decided to go ahead and head out there, with me praying that Max wouldn’t turn green and Captain Paul praying for another successful day of the great Tarpon fishing everybody had been experiencing that week.
The water was a bit rough but, when we hit big swells or wakes, Max would laugh hysterically and yell, “Yee Haw!”
We arrived at our destination and there were lots of fishing boats lined up, and lots of people with severely bent rods! One boat had a triple hook-up! (That means 3 people on the boat were fighting Tarpon at the same time.) We got SOOOO EXCITED!!
Captain Paul maneuvered the boat and taught me how to drift the bait to the Tarpon. All around us, the schools of Tarpon were surfacing and rolling on the top of the water while feeding, their huge silver bodies gleaming in the sun. Some did this right near the boat, to Max’s surprise and glee. Around us, hooked Tarpon were leaping out of the water behind boats. Heck, it was like a Tarpon circus!
It didn’t take long for Captain Paul to hook one. He handed the pole to me and I got to fight my first Tarpon! It only took about 15 minutes to get him to the boat. I only got a glance at him. He was perhaps 3 feet long. It was hard to tell. Captain Paul went for his gloves and, at that second, the Tarpon broke loose. I was pretty disappointed. Captain Paul tried to tell me that, technically, it was a catch because the leader hit the pole and the fish was at the boat, according to IGFA rules… but I wasn’t buying it. If you don’t land it, you haven’t caught it. He told me fisherman (and women!) can no longer haul Tarpon on board. You must remove the hook in the water and let them go. That didn’t make me feel any better. I didn’t even have a picture of my fish!! He got away while Max was still turning the camera on. Oh well. At least I got to fight one!
Anyway, just a few minutes later I hooked one. It was Max’s turn. This one was a biggie! The Tarpon headed East so Max and Captain Paul moved to the front of the boat. Captain Paul was teaching Max how you have to pull the rod up when you can and reel as you let it down. I was snapping pictures and videos (Max’s Tarpon jumped!). Anyway, Max’s fish was a bit too big (according to Captain Paul) and he broke free pretty quickly. Afterward, Max said, “I wanna catch a shark now!”
After that, the Tarpon fishing slowed down. Everybody around us had straight rods and bored faces and a few boats even left. Captain Paul was a trooper. He moved the boat several times, going from one school of them to another, chumming like a madman and coaching me on my technique… but the tide was slowing and so was the feeding. Captain Paul wasn’t ready to give up but I wanted Max to try his hand at something else big – and something he could catch. So, Captain Paul nodded and turned toward the rocks (near the beach). We arrived and could see Barracuda right next to the boat. In case you don’t know, the water here is like a swimming pool – aqua blue and crystal clear. We threw some bait in and it only took about 10 or 15 minutes for me to hook something. I handed the pole to Max again. He and Captain Paul fought the fish together (I did *not* want Max to lose this one!). When it got close to the boat, Captain Paul said, “Max! This is what you’ve been waiting for!” Max peeked over the edge and there it was! A Hammerhead Shark!!
They landed the fish and… Max ran to the other side of the boat. That Hammerhead was flopping all around and I didn’t want my toes near him, either. Captain Paul got him under control and we coaxed Max back to the rear of the boat for a picture. However, he wouldn’t sit anywhere near the shark. I made some vague hand gestures to Captain Paul and rolled my eyes from right to left and he jumped to his right with the shark, landing right next to Max, just a split second before I took the picture. Heh…
We released the Hammerhead and then Captain Paul hooked something else. Max helped him with that and it was a Lemon Shark! Max was over the moon! He’d gotten to fight a Tarpon AND catch two sharks in one day! By the way, the Hammerhead Shark was 34 inches and the Lemon Shark was 44 inches.
It was an adventure for both of us and I was relieved to realize that I’d never needed to give Max the motion sickness medicine. He never got sick, never even the slightest bit queasy. So, he didn’t inherit the sea sickness gene from my mother. Hallelujah!!
I’m writing this on Monday night. We are in St. Petersburg, Florida. Jim Novo and his wife Barb visited us last night. Jim is the author of Drilling Down
Turning Customer Data into Profits with a Spreadsheet and has been with Booklocker.com for several years now. We had a great time with Jim and Barb and are seeing them again for lunch tomorrow.
You can read much more about our travel adventures (and see photos) at: http://www.wirelesstrips.com
Hugs to all!
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