A couple of months ago we were given the opportunity to go deep sea fishing with boat captain extraordinaire and National Sales Manager at Navionics, Paul Michele, the weekend before ICast starts. Now, Josh may be the bass fisherman of the family but I've always fancied myself the saltwater angler of the bunch. Not that I get a ton of opportunity to go, but while he's able to fish for the freshwater variety all day long I'm grabbing for my book after a few hours. But you stick me on an ocean and buddy, I'll go as long as it will let me.
Before going to Florida, Josh and I had not seen each other for several weeks due to his hectic tournament schedule. I flew into Orlando on a Friday night after work and we stayed there until we headed down to the beach the following morning. Paul lives in Port St. Lucie which is about 45 minutes north of West Palm Beach. The first thing on the agenda was go find food. Fresh seafood to be exact. We ended up eating at a place right in the marina called The Original Tiki Bar that was all outdoors and had live music playing throughout the meal. It overlooks the harbor and over the course of our meal we saw manatees, goliath grouper, catfish and sheepshead. We each got a beer and split the Mahi Tacos and Coconut Shrimp Salad between us. The shrimp salad was a total winner with it's simple yet perfectly paired sweet and savory ingredients. When Josh gets back into town he's going to be my guinea pig for my own version that I plan to make! We were both pleasantly surprised that after we completely crushed both of those, we were left feeling full but light.
After the amazing lunch, we moseyed on down to Paul's place where we hung out for a bit before going out for drinks and dinner at Shrimpers Grill & Raw Bar. There we had an array of fresh seafood ranging from cracked conch to oyster shooters to tuna tacos. The conch was by far my favorite! They were so airy and flavorful. We stopped by one more place on the way home for a drink and discuss our game plan for the following day. We decided to look for snook offshore in the morning before going deeper to fish for bonitas which would be used later as bait fish for the goliath grouper and shark fishing. Sounds good to me!
Once we were about 7 miles off shore, Paul rigged up 4 different rods that would be trolling behind the boat as we drove about 10 mph. As soon as we had a fish on we stopped so it could get reeled in. Josh caught the first fish which ended up being a nice sized barracuda. Poor little feller went straight to the livewell to be used as bait later on. It wasn't long before we had our next fish on and I was up to bat. I grabbed that rod and started reeling. Before coming to FL, I was running frequently and doing arm exercises to prepare for this trip. To be honest, I'm not sure it did a damn thing because that little bonita kicked my ass. They are said to be one of the best fighters of the ocean and I believe it. I've never actually had sweat bead down my face like that before. It took about 10-15 minutes to reel him in because every time he was near the boat and we were ready to net him he would bolt back down deep again. After we finally got him in the boat I didn't even feel bad about using him as bait. It was a great battle, but I won fair and square.
Maybe it was the fact that I only had an iced coffee in my system at this point or maybe that it was 100 degrees out there, but fighting that bonita took a lot out of me and left me feeling like I was going to throw up. The over-exertion paired with my weak stomach made for some pretty gnarly sea-sickness for the majority of the day. I took a break and went swimming for a bit to try to get my insides right again, but the second I stepped back on that boat it hit me hard. So hard in fact, that when the barracuda and bonita were used as bait fish for my husband to catch his 10ft 400lb bull shark, I was in the fetal position in the back of the boat ready to hop overboard and use myself as chum to end it all. I've never felt so helpless. Mentally, I was so ready to take on everything that would come my way that day, but my stomach was not on the same page. I got a quick glimpse of the behemoth on the end of that line, but not like the one that Josh and Paul got. Eventually, the shark broke off and we weren't able to get a good picture of it which still kills me because I was the photographer that day and I failed. Hard.
After the shark broke off and Josh had a moment to collect himself, he looked almost as worse-off as me! He gave it hell with that guy and I'm so proud of him for making it as far as he did in the fight! After all that I wasn't ready to completely call it a day quite yet, but knew I needed to hit land for a hot minute to get myself right. After beaching the boat for 30 minutes and eating a sandwich, I was ready to give it another go. We wouldn't be out too much longer, but given my stomach we didn't want to go deep again, so we stuck close to the shoreline to be on the safe side. In that time I finally landed a snook and Josh got an amberjack that we planned to use in an attempt in catching a goliath grouper. The grouper never came and we got off the water shortly after. Given everything that happened, the day was still the most fun I'd had in awhile and I would do it again in a heartbeat! But maybe with some Bonine in my system next time..
After we left Port St Lucie, we had reservations at a beach front hotel in Melbourne to rest up for the night. Once we got to our room, we cracked the patio doors open so we could hear that ocean rolling in and collapsed on the bed for the remainder of the night. The next morning, we checked out and headed towards Orlando where Josh would be staying for the rest of the week for ICast and I was flying out of the following morning. I really wanted to walk a beach, any beach, before I had to head back to MN so we stopped at one just before Cocoa Beach. Josh's schedule has been so crazy lately so it was nice to slow down and enjoy each other and mother nature for a bit before it was back to reality.
This trip was one for the books and I would like to give my sincerest THANK YOU to Paul for taking us out and putting up with me! It is truly a day that we will not ever forget and one that I would definitely like to do again!
Hey there -
I'm Bri! Lover of food, wine, and photography that is currently traveling with my professional bass fishing husband along with our cantankerous rottie, Kigen. When not traveling you can find me living the lake life off the shores of Lake Mille Lacs in Isle, MN. Pour a drink, pull up a chair and join me as I journey across the country documenting it all along the way!