Being a fishing guide has its ups and downs. Fortunately for me, there have been way more ups than downs during my tenure as a captain. I feel the main reason I have had such a prodigious career is because I have geared my charter business more toward family fun fishing trips rather than the hard-core style fishing trips often portrayed on TV shows — though I do my fair share of those also.
Family fun trips can be anything from catching ladyfish and jacks to targeting sharks and tarpon, or everything in between. I have had kids as young as 6 land giant tarpon, and kids as old as 90 have the time of their lives catching nothing but ladyfish and mackerel. To me, fishing is all about having fun. And there’s nothing more fun then taking out a bunch of kids, regardless of their ages.
I have always promoted taking kids along on fishing or hunting trips — and with good reason. Children are the future of these sports that we all love so much. If we teach out children ethical practices regarding wildlife and fisheries, these sports can be around for generations to come. But I have been noticing lately that the famous words of Bob Dylan — The Times They Are A-Changin’ —are ringing true when it comes to fishing (and many other issues).
The picture that accompanies this column is 7-year-old Zander and his grandfather John with a barracuda. They fought the ‘cuda together when I took them fishing for mackerel inside Charlotte Harbor last week. The barracuda ate a mackerel that young Zander was reeling in (with only a mono leader, mind you).
This scenario almost always plays out in favor of the cuda — but not on this day. Somehow the spoon’s hook ended up getting stuck in a perfect spot so the fish could not cut the line with its teeth. Due to the expert coaching that young Zander gave his grandpa during an epic battle, they were able to land it. As I watched them tag-team this ‘cuda, I realized that Zander was taking grandpa fishing and not the other way around.
It amazes me how much the youth know about hunting and fishing these days. The Internet and TV truly are not all bad. More and more kids are reciting rules and regulations to me when they get on board. Most of them are quite conversant about what fish they want to target and the techniques used to catch them. In fact, many of the kids I get on board are actually more knowledgeable than the adult they brought with them. Which leads to the question: Who’s taking who?
So, my fishing advice to you readers is to start listening to your children, grandchildren, neighbor’s kids or that snot-nosed brat on the fishing pier. You might just learn something from them, and if you’re nice to them, one day they might just take you fishing. Of course, you’ll have to pay for everything because they’re only kids — but at least you’ll catch fish.
Capt. Mike Myers, owner and operator of Reelshark Charters, is a full-time Charlotte Harbor guide. Having fished the waters all along the Southwest Florida coast for more than 40 years, he has the experience to put anglers on the fish they want. His specialties are sharks, tarpon and the nearshore Gulf waters. For more info, visit ReelShark.com or call Capt. Mike at 941-416-8047.