MERRY SANIBEL FISHING! December 24 2014, 0 Comments

Merry Sanibel Fishing and Happy Dolphin and Bird Watching

What a year it’s been! And the Hey Mon is very, very happy. With the Holiday Season upon us and another year coming to a close, I, like many, find myself pausing to reflect on the many things I’m thankful for. Also, I guess because I’ve been branded as a creative type, I tend to keep images vividly stored in my brain basket and then combine them with corresponding thoughts. What I end up with is pretty much being able to go to a multitude of Happy Places at the drop of a hook. In case you never saw the movie Happy Gilmore, he was a whacky guy played by Adam Sandler who eventually discovered success and happiness by going to his Happy Place. That’s the spot I’m referring to.

What I’d like to do is share some of my Happy Places from 2014 and which allows the Hey Mon to be feelin’ good and very thankful for what we’ve got!

Happy Place 1 -- First and foremost, I’ve met a number of incredibly neat people while fishing and cruising this year. It seems like everybody has their own unique lives, but they all share a common bond of having fun on the water. Here are just a few experiences that maybe you can visualize right now.

  • Taking Joy, her 92-year-old Mom and two kids out fishing in the backwaters of the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. Son, Adam and his lady friend, had constant tight lines catching Snook, Mangrove Snapper, Redfish and Trout. Mom and Joy were content just to watch all the action on a picture perfect day around Sanibel. When we returned from our outing, ‘ol Mom (young in every respect but her age) said she just had one of the best days of her life. Whoa. That joyously choked me up.
  • The umpteen number of kids I was able to fish and/or watch dolphin and manatees with. Since I’m a kid at heart, I feel a special connection with all of them. I see them right now Intense as all get out, while making that first perfect cast or reeling in a nice size fish. Or, their laughter, when Mom catches a slinky squirrel fish or the puffer fish who blows itself up to bigger than a softball only to deflate like a balloon when it’s released back in the water.
  • Watching sunsets on Pine Island Sound or the Gulf of Mexico with couples who are just plain digging each other. Or, being with the family who are sharing a dream trip together with Dad who’s battling a nasty illness and may be heading off to the eternal fishing grounds.
  • Smiling big time and shaking my head as various groups of young Turks (and Turkettes) lugged their coolers full of brewskies and snacks on board the Hey Mon for early AM fishing sessions. They’d invariably shout out something like “Hey we’re on vacay and let’s catch some fish, Bro!” And they did, while rarely spilling a drop of liquid gold or smashing any sour cream ‘n onion chips or Frito’s. It’s an art that seems to survive the test of time.
  • I’ll finish here with Peter from England and his wife Tracey and her 84-year-old full-fledged Chinese Mom who was visiting the U.S. and Florida for the first time. She didn’t speak a stitch of English but smiled a lot. I was told to simply call her Mommy and our trip was to get her on fish. And boy, did we. As a sidebar, Mommy is from the northern-most province of China, right up by Siberia where is gets really cold. On a pretty windy and cool day hovering in the high 60’s in Pine Island Sound, all Mommy had on was a tank top and shorts! So, here she is hauling in fish and wants to keep everything we caught to clean. Daughter Tracey had to explain to her that there were restrictions on the size of fish we could keep. Mommy was not happy. The best part though was when we returned to the dock and I commenced to clean our keepers. I went to discard the entrails (the fish heads and guts) and Mommy started yelling at me in Chinese to stop! From there on I kept everything and put the entrails into a big bag for her. She was a very happy camper. Can you say Fish Stew the next day? This was a first, and a pretty fun and gratifying one on the Hey Mon.

Happy Place 2 – Getting married to Lady Barb on the Hey Mon off the Sanibel Lighthouse in April. On a semi-hazy morning and calm seas, we tied the knot while two of our close friends stood with us as an officiate performed the unique service. The rest of our audience was a pod of playful dolphins that must have appreciated us and all of the beautiful flowers sprouting from the rod holders and rocket launchers on the boat.

Happy Place 3 – Going offshore with friend and client, Buzz, to catch Grouper and Snapper with his son, Chris. Now Chris is no small guy and I will never forget watching him battle one big a=# Goliath Grouper or Shark for quite some time. It was truly Mano vs. Mano Fish. I don’t think Chris would have lost the fight, but ultimately we had to trek 20+ miles back on the Gulf to Sanibel. Otherwise, we would have been out in the briny all day and night. Eventually, we convinced Chris to tighten the drag on the reel and the line snapped – happily very close to the bitter end. Yep, it was a fight that left Chris sweat-filled but with a story to tell for years to come.

Happy Place 4 – In May of this year, I earned a US Coast Guard Master Captain’s designation. This will allow us to take more folks out on the water at one time. Best of all getting added nautical education and even more time on the water has sharpened my senses with the sea. Hopefully, this will translate to an enhanced experience for all of our customers.

Happy Place 5 – I am really fortunate to have such a great group of friends (including new ones) who have gone out of their way to recommend so many of their friends to come enjoy either fishing or cruising on the Hey Mon. For example, there’s Dave and Dianne from a suburb of the Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dave, who works at Wells Fargo, recommended us to a business associate of his. Ultimately, I got to introduce Kim, her husband and two other great family members to the Sanibel/Captiva area since it was their first-ever visit here. And best of all, we pounded the fish. The highlight though was having about a half dozen dolphins do an aerial acrobatic show in our boat wake as we returned to shore. Priceless!

There are just so many great friends we’ve made this past year and I thank all of them for the opportunity to create visual memories that will last forever.

Happy Place 6 – I could probably go with this blog forever, but I’ll come to a close with this.

My best happy place is reveling in all the wonderful memories with families. And that includes mine. I’m already looking forward to the next time Barb and I can just hang with the kids and an amazing gaggle of energetic grandkids.

After a phenomenal 2014 of fishing, shelling and wildlife watching, 2015 is already shaping up to be even better. Barb and I, along with friends, continue to try new and exciting recipes that are great for salt and fresh water fish. We can’t wait to share them with you. We’re also looking forward to providing you with a bounty of information so you can look  forward even more to your next visit to Sanibel. Get on board soon!

Merry Fishing and Happy Dolphin and Bird Watching, Everyone!