Bright and early wake up call at 6AM for Day 4! Today was our first fishing trip ever in Florida with Captain Rob Modys of Soulmate Charters. We met Captain Rob at Fish-Tale Marina around 7:30AM after about a half hour drive from Sanibel Island down to Fort Myers. WE WERE SO EXCITED!!
My brother came along for the trip with us; this was his first real attempt at fishing ever aside from Mr. ArtSea Chic giving him his first lesson in Houston. I remember back in January when I began searching for a fishing charter that could make a first-timer's experience both memorable and a learning experience. I knew I didn't want someone who was trying to pack a boat full of anglers. I wanted someone with solid experience who could be conversational about the areas we were fishing in, what we were catching, and a few fishing tips along the way. When I found Captain Rob, believe I had stumbled across a link to his website via Pinterest and instantly knew his charter was the one. He had a very informational website, his experience of being a Bass Pro Shops Pro Staff Guide and giving back to a list of groups in the community was impressive, and heck he even hosts his own ESPN Reel Talk Radio radio show (listen in on Saturday's at 7AM on 99.3 FM, Fort Myers area via the iRadioNOW app)! After seeing all that, then I looked at the price as was hooked. Very reasonable, and accommodated all our needs.
After arriving to the marina and getting all packed and ready to go, we were off to the flats and Estero Bay with Captain Rob to focus on primarily catching snook. That was Mr. ArtSea Chic's goal - get at least a snook! But, as Captain Rob put it, "Do you want to catch snook, or do you want to fish?" We then knew that we would probably have a harder time catching snook than we thought, but we were very much ready for the 6 hours we would spend on the water in search of them at any time.
There is no losing in fishing - it's either catching or learning from what you failed to do, or did right.
It was a great start to the trip with a slight cool breeze as we made our way our of the marina. My brother bought his very first Columbia Sportswear performance fishing shirt a week before the trip and made sure to bring his Under Armour hat, and he quickly found out just why they are so essential when out on the water...It gets very HOT! The sunbeams just smack right down on you. A hat, long sleeved shirt, closed boat shoes, polarized sunglasses from Costa, lots of cold water, my iphone housing from Watershot, sunscreen cream (not the spray kind) and bug spray were absolutely musts! Even with all of these essentials we got plenty of sun!
Special thanks to my parents for snapping a few shots as we went out and back into the marina during our trip! Watch the video below to see just how calm and blue the water was as we made our way out!
Not too long after we got to our first spot, we had a guest greet us and play with the boat's power pole. A manatee! It was pretty awesome seeing him so close.
My brother made the first catch of the trip and eventually landed a mangrove snapper! He was pretty excited :) Mr. ArtSea Chic and I had a slower start to the morning with a few nibbles and catfish.
...well, my brother beat us to the next species of fish. He caught a keeper trout! In the process of trying to hold it for a picture though - it snapped its mouth and the fish's two teeth bit his thumb. He wasn't too thrilled about the trout bite, so he had Captain Rob hold the fish for him for the photo.haha
About an hour later we spotted what looked like little black ducks bobbing their heads in and out of the water, but turns out they were two spotted manta rays! I didn't snap a photo of them peaking above water in time before they went back down to glide the top of the water, but I marked where they were on the photo for you!
Well here's my first keeper! A bigger mangrove snapper that was just all over the place wanting to flap around so I let Captain Rob take care of him. Look at his light brown eyes...he really hated me right then.
Next up, a few catfish and then some more catfish...and then my brother landed a juvenile sting ray. Bet Captain Rob was thrilled about getting the hook out of that one :|
Coming up shortly before noon, thinking back to Captain Rob's word of advice when it came to snook fishing and just looking around to see if any tarpon were jumping behind us because absolutely nothing was biting my line...BAM! I had something, and
Captain Rob instantly knew what was on the other end of the hook by the way the fish was moving in the water and jumping. A SNOOK!!
I can only describe the moments before the bite as unsuspecting, clear-minded, and then it all turned to thoughts like holy shell I have a snook, MY FIRST SNOOK EVER that I can't lose!! Needless to say, I was pretty happy. So was Mr. ArtSea Chic since we were aiming to catch at least one of these beauties. Turned out to be the only snook catch of the day though, which made it even more special.
My next target after landing that snook - a tarpon ;)
Well, that tarpon never came around. But a 3' black tip shark sure did!! Gosh, I never thought I would ever catch a shark fishing, much less be inches away from one! Sure wasn't going to try my luck holding it though, so I let Captain Rob hold it for me. My Vibram 5Fingers TrekSport Sandals really helped me grip the boat on these landings (seriously), especially when the other big catfish I caught eventually put my arm out of order for a few minutes. If I wasn't wearing the sandals, I probably would've slid around more and had a harder time keeping my stance. They're always comfortable too when I eventually get my small pinky tone in the right hole!
In the same area I caught the shark, Mr. ArtSea Chic caught his first ever puffer fish! He had never seen one in person, so it was really neat to see one just sitting in the palm of his hand. Who can say they've caught a puffer fish??
2PM came so fast, but we had a good afternoon on the water! After arriving back to the marina dock, Captain Rob skinned all our keeper fish and prepared the fillets to be able to take them back on the ice we had left in our ORCA cooler provided by W4 Services, that was still sitting in the car throughout the hot day - and never melted. He recommended several restaurants that we could take our catch to on the island and have a full dinner meal prepared for us, which was fantastic to hear.
Compared to the Texas coast, Florida has so many species to offer!
Our fishing trip was such a great experience, even my parents were excited to hear we actually caught enough fish for dinner. We were lucky to have Captain Rob be a part of one of our most memorable activities in Florida!
We would highly recommend him! Thanks Captain!
We decided to head back to the condo to clean up for going out to dinner at one of Captain Rob's recommendations, The Timbers Restaurant and Fish Market. We gave our waiter all our fillets after we ordered drinks, and he took them to the back to have the cooks prepare the fish as we wanted it paired with our choice of sides. All of the trout and mangrove snapper fillets turned out AMAZING! Tasted so good, and felt so good to know we caught our own dinner.
After dinner, we headed down to the other side of Sanibel for some refreshing ice cream at Pinocchio's Homemade Ice Cream, aka the best ice cream shop on the entire island. One of their neat traditions for over 20 years has been to place an animal cracker on top of your ice cream order. Random, but nice touch to their branding.
Mr. ArtSea Chic got a dirty sand dollar ice cream cup and I got my classic cup of chocolate ice cream :) SO. GOOD. We sat outside on their benches enjoying the rest of the evening daylight as many other families lined up through Pinocchio's doors for their dessert.
MMmmm MMMmm, are you hungry yet? I could eat chocolate ice cream almost every day if I could :) A sweet ending to Day 4 and another day full of exciting adventures in our book. Day 5 would be our day to sleep in and catch up on much needed rest and application of aloe vera on our sunburns :| We all got pretty red from being out on the water.
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