We, and our actions, are ultimately a product of our environment and unless you live in a bubble those influences are bound to be both good and bad. What we do with them, well that’s up to us.
Losing my father to melanoma was a type of gut-wrenching pain I won’t even try to wrap words around, but what I do with it is up to me. In part, I’ve chosen to fight back against the disease that took his life and that’s something I know I can hold onto forever. As an angler and a writer I have the opportunity to reach an audience that is particularly prone to this type of cancer, and I’m fortunate to have that platform.
People have varying opinions on tattoos… some love them and there are those who think they’re blasphemy against God. One look at me will easily tell you where I stand, and on this trip I wanted a reminder forever inked on me of something I don’t think I’d soon forget anyway.
Now I’m one of those weirdos without cable television, but I’d have to be dead not to have heard of the guys at Miami Ink., who have made tattooing and the city they do it in a national conversation via Reality Television. I wanted the biggest platform I could find, hoping they might share my cause, one that truly affects so many of us.
So I found Love Hate Tattoo shop in Miami (many have sprung up around it, they’re that popular) and asked for a simple design: the hook through the ribbon that Rick Roth and the guys at Mirror Image designed for the T-shirts I’ve been selling to raise money for the cause on this trip.
And James Bennett of Love Hate Tattoo in Miami was good enough to do the work at half the cost, the rest of which I’ll be donating toward the cause. And wouldn’t you know it, he was an angler. He talked to me about taking his son to fish, and getting him into largemouth bass and peacocks at a young age. It is truly a gift we can give children that costs almost nothing, and something they’ll have their entire lives. To see some kids who are just about as excited as kids can get over a fish, check out his YouTube page.
The tattoo’s a reminder that while there are evils in this world that might attack us when we’re least prepared, they’ll never be stronger than the hope we can gather against them, whether that’s through fishing, or any collected effort. And it’s not one I think I’ll regret, now or ever.
Florida has a diverse enough ecosystem that all different types of fish call these waters home. Inland there’s tremendous bass fishing, as we’ve experienced, in northern Florida you can find some of the South’s best redfishing, but there are few outings that in my mind capture the Florida fishing dynamic better than a party boat out of the Keys.
At a relatively affordable cost per angler, party boats invite all types of fishermen aboard their decks, and you never know who you’ll meet. So, before turning around to head back northward through the state, I jumped on one of the party boats out of Bud N’ Mary’s Marina for some snapper and grouper fishing. The boats and guides out of Bud N’ Mary’s are as old and legendary as Florida lore gets, and they were some of the pioneers that built the tourist-driven fishing industry in South Florida decades ago.
The main targets for the day were grouper and snapper, both of which are some of Florida’s favorite food fishes. There’s nothing too complicated about these types of trips, most anglers just want to get their dinner in a fun way and enjoy a few hours on the water.
Shrimp bodies and squid strips on a pain J-hook with enough weight to hold bottom is all that you need, and rarely is there a point in the day when a rod’s not bent. I got out-fished by almost everyone on the boat, I have to admit, but I did catch and release five snapper, for a total of three pounds, on the afternoon.
It was good to see, especially, other sun savvy anglers on the boat taking the necessary precautions before having to find out the hard way that the elements can be dangerous. Long sleeves, pants and Buffs like this man was wearing, were more common than I’d expected.
The day ended with the typical Florida thunderstorms chasing us off the water, but not before many anglers got their meal for the evening, and some for a few to follow.
Thanks to the generous and fishy people aboard the Fort Piece Lady, who donated their time and effort to Catch a Cure, I got out on the water yesterday with a couple dozen other anglers who all wanted to fish for a cure.
The short trip focused on mostly sea bass, plying wrecks and structure between a one and two-hour ride from Florida’s Fort Pierce, but it was a productive one.
I was able to pick a few small sea bass on the day, which weren’t large enough for the cooler or the frying pan, but it was a couple of other anglers who stole the show. To the left you’ll see the woman that took the biggest fish of the day, a king mackerel that weighed in at 25 pounds, and lest we forget that’s $25 for the Melanoma Research Foundation.
And here you’ll see the second kingfish, held by first mate Jason Barker. This one weighed in at 18 pounds. Barker was a mate aboard the Lady and he had his hands full, running around the boat all day untangling lines and releasing fish.
This king was one of two that came aboard the boat during the day. For a relatively short day on the water (it was a half-day trip with an hour’s ride out and back) we as a boat cleaned up pretty good for the MRF. Those two fish added 43 dollars to our total raised, which I’ll be calculating today to give us a grand total of where we stand as we near the trip’s conclusion.
On the relatively short trip the two big kingfish provided most of the excitement, although there was a steady pick of sea bass on most of the structure on which we stopped.
I was grateful for the opportunity to get out on the water for the cause and to see some wonderful fellow anglers bend a rod on some truly amazing fish.