Hooked on Fishing
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
It is official, I am hooked on fishing again. I know, I know, Florida is a fishing paradise so how did I ever lose my passion for fishing…? Turns out, I didn’t. Why I stopped fishing – now that is a great question and we’ll get to that.
While growing up in the center of the state did not allow for the most fishing opportunities, I did take advantage of any that came my way, from tagging along with my uncle on his pontoon, to fishing the local ponds. However, most of my fishing experience came from my dad. I grew up in what some refer to as “Itty-Bitty Plant City,” home of the world-famous Strawberry Festival. Ok, maybe not ‘world’ famous, but surely Florida famous. Hillsborough County famous? Let’s go with that. My dad and I would fish quite a bit throughout my youth. Although, I have to admit that looking back neither of us really knew what we were doing, but we had a lot of fun and definitely got lucky sometimes! We fished Deerfield Pier, Ponce Inlet, the occasional fishing charter out of Clearwater Beach, and some lakes here and there. I always preferred saltwater fishing over freshwater because the fish were bigger and to me it was always a surprise what I caught. When I was very young, my grandpa would take me fishing off the beach in St. Augustine when we camped at Bryan Mawr Park. Not sure what we ever caught then either, but I always was excited for fishing with my Papa. Distracted by school, work, and other hobbies I slowly drifted away from an activity I once loved.
Oddly enough, although I enjoyed fishing growing up, I never ate the fish we caught. Just could not stomach the smell. (Spoiler – I now love fish!) There was only one way I would eat fish – extra crispy Gorton’s fish sticks lathered with ketchup and a side of kraft mac-n-cheese. Now we were talkin’. What can I say? That was ‘fish’ for me… fast forward, eh, 20 some years to when my wife (probably girlfriend at the time) convinced me to give fish another chance. What the hell – I had my first grouper sandwich. All I would eat is grouper, but it was progress.
About 3 months ago is when I realized that I was getting back into fishing. My wife (Lauren) and I went to visit a friend of mine (we will call him Jeff… because his name is actually Jeff) for a weekend in his new house in Aripeka, a small coastal town about 40 minutes north of Tarpon Springs on 19. Jeff’s place is unbelievable! Triple lot on open Gulf. It really is a neat place. That weekend we caught trout, blue fish, cobia, lizard fish, Spanish mackerel, blue crab, and more fish that I just can’t remember. The kicker – we caught them all on a simple golden spoon! Who knew fishing could be so easy! I surely didn’t. There is nothing better than fresh fish - and I mean fish that was swimming within the hour. I didn’t know fishing like this was possible. In all my experience, fishing was an all-day adventure and rarely resulted in catching anything. This experience in addition to my new taste for fish has me hooked on fishing. By the next weekend I had bought a new fishing pole, some tackle and began rigging up my kayak.
Below is my first fish caught from my kayak in Tarpon Springs along the Anclote River. Too small to keep but hoping there is more where this little guy came from. I hear sheeps head are good eating!
If you are reading this, you know that Lauren and I bought a new house (new to us, it’s actually 119 years old) and are soon moving to Tarpon Springs. As it turns out, Tarpon Springs is an amazing fishery! Lauren does an amazing job covering the food scene and will be updating you soon with renovation progress. I look forward to sharing some of my favorite fishing spots in future posts.