On the Hook: Fishing - hunting or entertainment

Bill Walsh
Becky with a nice snook fishing some outter points around Marco Island.

When you strike out on a “fishing trip” is it to lure a piscatorial species to its demise by trickery and food or is the trip a quest just for the sheer entertainment?

Initially that may seem like an innate issue but is really becoming a centerpiece issue for those who take to the water frequently. Dealing with the costs associated with those water-related excursions rolled up with the increasing number of government controls and limitations makes that decision dicey to say the least.

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A true test is asking someone if they enjoyed a fishing trip is always a tentative event, some naturally see the excursion on the water as an elevation of spirit; some measure enjoyment by the number of fishes taken for enjoyment in completion of that link between man and intended consequences.

Bottom line some measure by the sheer pleasure of the waters existence; others by the number of creatures in the cooler.

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Sport fishing is hallmarked by the simple premise of sport, me against this creature, a simple quest for hunt and catch. The strike, screech of the drag, and the throb of the fight is one of life’s little thrills. Sending that aggressive creature back to thrill again is certainly a consideration especially when compared to the alternative of selecting a “keeper” from the display case in the local fish market.

Let’s use a true charter trip story to fully display the issue.

A young family from the Midwest talked their folks into letting them borrow their condo here for a week before the holidays to avoid the holiday crush here on the island.

The father initially contacted me the week before arrival and wanted to schedule a trip for their two boys for the week before Christmas. In the conversation he asked a lot of specific questions like “any snook around?” And “how about speckled trout”? We were honest and laid out the negatives evident during his period of choice where the fishing is normally slow as we go through season transition.

He understood, It would be three of four months before he’d be able to anything on the frozen water back home, We booked the trip.

Our morning dawned cold and winter bleak, air temperatures in the low 50s with a wind advisory on the agenda for southeast winds to 15 knots on the late morning timing. Dad and the two boys arrived dockside right on time and dressed liked stuffed Pillsbury Doughboys. Cold was not unexpected and they were pumped to excited to being on the water, finally.

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With trout a closed issue in those days we bypassed even attempting that and our opening focus would be on pompano working the Marco Pass. After a half hour of effort, we determined that the pomps were a holdout but had sent the ladyfish in their stead. An absolute OK. Ladyfish were one of the most exciting fish to catch (and release).

There was a lot of yelping and excitement as the ladyfish and a few mixed in jacks were providing the opening agenda of thrills, All were carefully released. We hung in there on the cold water ladyfish until the boys cried “uncle.” We took a little break and headed up the outside edges and settled into the beginning of an incoming tide at Hurricane Pass. We fortunately were at the very beginning of the incoming tide which very visually streams in as the flood tide gets hold. Again, as always, the ladyfish present a leading edge to the vanguard, as the tide makes it’s rush inshore is led by ladyfish which excite in plundering your bait.

We were close to two hours into our trip and the boys were signaling uncle; the action had been intense and, but we hadn’t seen a “real” target yet. Didn’t make any difference of the boys they were dizzy with the action: Dad would have liked to have seen something of substance but deferred to his boy’s joy on the non-stop activity.

Time was running short and wanted to see if we could get a least a couple take homes for dad, so we circled back to the Pass and slid pompano gear on all three lines. Be nice to take home a dinner, I thought. On our second drift down Capri Pass, one of the boys had a vicious strike and run off and we powered up and worked a nice size pompano. As Dad readied the net, the boy on the rod very quietly said, “Dad, let’s let him go; it’s been a great fishing morning without killing any of the sea’s creatures.”

No argument. Dad stowed the net.

As we reached the dock, both boys had ear to ear grins recounting the thrill of the catch and the sustain of the resource.

Isn’t that the way it should be? Something to think about!

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Capt. Bill Walsh owns a charter fishing business and holds a U.S. Coast Guard license. Send comments to dawnpatrolmarco@cs.com.