Reflections – Be a Kid -- On and Off the Water January 10 2014, 0 Comments
What’s that old saying, “Out with the old and in with the new”? 2013 is obviously behind us and we’re cruising into what should be an exciting 2014.
Stepping back for a moment, I’ve always liked the Holiday Season and December for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the 25th is my birthday so I feel like I’m in pretty good company for being blessed. And I am, with a great family and a large network of friends and customers. I’m also able to be out on the water, most days that makes me one of the luckiest guys around. There are times when I’m cruising along that I feel like a kid opening gifts during the Holidays. I feel downright giddy and excited to see how the day will unwrap.
Speaking of being a kid, this Holiday Season I had the chance to be on the boat with some dynamite young people ranging in age from 7 to 17. Whether it was fishing, looking for dolphin, gazing at manatee, or chomping a burger at the Waterfront restaurant, these kids were non-stop entertaining and fun to be with.
One particular early morning, as I was cruising out to cast net for bait, I reflected on the charter I had the day before. A partner guide, Clarence Reed of Sea Reed Charters, had lined up a half day of fishing with a family of ten people. There were grandmas and grandpas, moms and dads and several kids. Since my boat is a bit larger than Clarence’s, I took six people; he took four.
Right away, I struck up a conversation with one of my crew, Max, a 9 year-old whiz kid. He hadn’t really ever fished before, but he was full of anticipation, questions and comments that forced this Captain to be constantly at the ready. My gosh, the energy this dude had was contagious. Best of all, when we got him on some fish, whether he caught a little or big one, his excitement brought back memories of how fun it was to just be a kid. As one would suspect, he even got amped up watching the shrimp and pilchards in the live well.
By the end of the trip, my new buddy Max had pretty much mastered the art of casting an open-faced spinning reel. When we hit the docks, his dad, who was on Clarence’s boat, was waiting to greet us. The first words out of Max’s mouth were, “Dad! Dad! I can cast really good now and we caught a bunch of fish!” Seeing that kid’s excitement about learning something new is a highlight for the brain bank. It was worth more than its weight in gold and a vision I’ll cherish for a long time.
I also got a chance to fish with Patrick and Dylan from Minnesota. These 9 and 11 year-old guys were veteran casters and fisherkids from angling on northern lakes. I was able to provide a few observations about the fish they caught. Whether it was the human-like teeth of a Sheepshead or the fangs on a Mangrove Snapper, they had fun seeing them for the first time. Even Mom, Dad and Grandma got a kick out of gandering at the fishy pearly whites.
Finally, there was 10-year-old Emily from a quaint little town just outside of Frankfurt, Germany. Her dad, Helmut, lined up an outing on the Hey Mon during his family’s biannual vacation trip to Sanibel. Because of high winds and cool temps we altered our planned trip to Cabbage Key and instead cruised the canals of Pine Island and grabbed a bite at the Waterfront Restaurant in St. James City. That was just fine for the family, especially Emily who indulged in some Gator Bites while the whole crew created masterful artwork with crayons drawn on the giant coloring table sheets.
Emily also took the helm of the Hey Mon while cruising the canals. I especially enjoyed watching her focus intensely on steering the boat with a smile on her face while getting plaudits from her dad and the Captain.
For all those families and friends who were on the water in December it was all about being together and having just plain fun. For those who fished, it was also about the anticipation of having a fresh fish dinner at the condo or letting the Lazy Flamingo on Sanibel prepare it for them.
Yep, even though the Holidays are behind us, I can’t help but reflect on the great groups of people who enjoyed being on the Hey Mon. I also got a youthful injection of kidditude that will carry me throughout 2014.
In a few short weeks, the fishing, shelling, nature treks and beachcombing will begin to build and continue right through the spring and early summer. The water temps will rise, the sun will get brighter and Nature will unleash all its wonder down here.
Out with the old, in with the new. Make it your resolution to get down here on the Hey Mon with friends, family and your favorite customers. We guarantee, no matter what we do, it will bring out the kid in you and create a youthful smile from ear to ear.
Happy New Year!
P.S. We have been promising to provide some tasty recipes for fish. Here's one my mom, Sal, provided to us many years ago. It's easy to make and one of our favorites. Try it with any of your favorite salt or freshwater fish fillets including snapper, trout, sheepshead, walleye, northern pike or crappie.