Feeding the Fish, and Making Memories for a Lifetime

By: Terry Gibson


A couple Mays ago, I took Teresa to Islamorada for some tarpon fishing. We fished the ocean-side flats and had school after school swim within range. Yet they ignored ever fly I threw at them, no matter how well presented. That's tarpon fishing for you; they wouldn't be so rewarding to catch if they weren't a real challenge.

After fishing, we went down to Robbie's of Islamorada Marina for late-afternoon cocktails and appetizers. There were a slew of kids on the dock with pails full of baitfish feeding the resident tarpon, literally by hand. Check out this awesome video.

Teresa instantly started kidding me about not being able to get one of the tarpon to eat a fly when kids were getting them to eat, no problem. Determined to feed at least one fish that day, we bought a pail of bait and commenced feeding those well-trained fish. We were giggling like little kids. We felt like little kids. It was a blast.

Riding back to the Cheeca Lodge, I couldn't help but go down memory lane to the docks in Palm Beach County where as kids we waited for the sportfishers to come ashore with their catch. We'd beg for scraps to feed the jacks, snappers and barracudas as they savaged the carcasses of dolphin, kingfish and wahoo. That's how we learned the names of so many species, and got hooked on fishing. If you're in that area, check out the cleaning stations in the afternoon at the Sailfish Marina.

Robbie's is just one great place to get the kids face to face with some of Florida's most fascinating critters. I wonder how many future marine biologists have been imprinted by such an experience. No matter where you're staying in Florida, if it's by a marina, head down to the docks as the boats come in and you're sure to see some amazing fish. And if you're cleaning your own catch, make sure you look down.

The kids will love it, and so will you.

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