For me, fishing was always a waiting game. It was a process that required luck, skill, and an abundance of patience as well as the ability to hold one’s mouth exactly right.
But then, I had never before been on a deep sea fishing charter with Captain Bob Smoot of Got Limit Fishing Charters. Truth be told, I had never before been on a fishing charter at all.
Our friends Mark and Laurie had been out with Captain Smoot before, based out of Lighthouse Point Marina in St. Petersburg. They loved every minute, and so when they asked my hubby Paul and I to join them on a trip, we agreed.
We departed in the early morning, when the sun was merely a hint on the horizon, our bags packed with sunscreen, swimming suits, snacks and drinks. It immediately became clear Bob was a true disciple of the sea. He wore a hat greased with hours exposed to the elements, a beard that would make Santa jealous, and a permanent smile. He was impossible not to like.
We cruised out by John’s Pass, the sun playing on the water, with dolphins frolicking in our wake.
Our first stop—somewhere in the Gulf—was about an hour offshore. Sam, Bob’s son, baited our hooks and instructed us on what to do. My line sunk to the bottom, and I obediently took up the slack. Immediately the line began to dance.
“Is that a fish?” I asked. But no one answered; they were all busy reeling in their catches. And soon I was too. This wasn’t waiting, this wasn’t fishing—this was catching!
We cruised the Gulf, changing locations whenever the action slowed. We snagged graceful, red-hued Grouper, a shark, mackerel, an enormous Gag Grouper – the biggest fish my hubby has ever caught – and endless Grunts. I took pictures and braced my legs against the side of the boat, gradually adapting to the rhythms of the sea. When we felt too hot, we jumped in the water, clear and clean and utterly refreshing.
Finally, we cruised back to the Marina. We refueled on the docks with sushi we crafted from the Grunts, washed down with cold drinks, while Sam cleaned our catch. We told jokes in poor taste, laughed a great deal and felt like good buddies by the end of it.
It was relaxing but exhausting. It was laid back but thrilling. And it’s something you should try if landing the big one is on your bucket list.