Everyone in this family knows how to fish. A lot of time is spent in the summer with lines in the water. Lake perch and bass are only so exciting however. For some real fishing, we decided to take a deep sea charter from Naples, FL. Captain Tom Robinson took us out on the Sea Legs for a 3/4 day trip (6 hours). Last year we did a half day trip and honestly I wouldn’t waste the money. You spend an hour and a
half getting out to fish and the same amount of time coming back, which doesn’t leave you a lot of time to actually fish.
Captain Tom leaves from the Naples City Dock in Naples Bay. He’s been leading fishing charters for 37 years, so he’s got this down pat. We arrived at the dock at 7:30 am. I brought:
- sunscreen (we applied it when we got there, then again around noon)
- lots of water
- sandwiches and snacks in a cooler with blue ice which then functioned to bring our fish home
- hats for everyone
- a beach towel (in case anyone got wet, but also to cover myself with in the cool morning)
- seasickness patches and pills just in case (not needed, but better safe than sorry)
- cash to tip the captain (although he takes payments with credit cards, there is no way
to add a tip to that)
The drive out from the dock is spectacular because you pass through the most expensive and elite section of Naples – Port Royal, filled with multi-million dollar mansions. Jon Bon Jovi has one of the most remarkable houses. Once you’re out on the open ocean, you sit back while the boat throttles ahead full speed. We liked Sea Legs because it has an indoors area and it also has a bathroom!
The boat is aptly named, because even though we were out on a relatively calm day, you do need to learn how to move around a boat – mostly this means holding on as you’re moving and if you’re standing to fish, wedging your knee against the side of the boat for balance.
The water was a beautiful color, and we enjoyed seeing the land fade behind us as we made it 19 miles offshore. Once you’re there, all you see is ocean. There’s no land and no boats. It’s just you and the water and the sky. The boat rocks gently and all your worries drop away.
Captain Tom got us started with lines baited with chunks of herring which we sent to the bottom of the ocean (50 feet down) and we immediately began pulling in fish. We caught lots of red grouper (which are quite heavy and a challenge to reel in), but they weren’t in season, so back they went after we admired them. We were able to keep mangrove snapper, lane snapper, and mackerel. All in all we brought home 16 keepers and threw back many, many more. We fished at 4 different spots, all reefs or wrecks Captain Tom had marked in his GPS. The fish we pulled in were so beautiful - brightly colored and sleek.
The three hours of fishing went by in a blur because we were so busy bringing in fish, one after another. An exciting moment was when we saw a shark swim by.
The last fish on the lines was on mine and it was so big we had no chance of bringing it in. The fish bit and my pole bent completely over. I knew I had no chance! I
handed the pole over to my son who fought with it for a while, but we had to say goodbye and break the line.
After about 3 hours of fishing, it was time to head back, but as we were pulling in our lines, we spotted a sea turtle. It was a fitting end to our trip. We sat back and enjoyed the ride into shore. When we got back to the dock, Captain Tom artfully cleaned all of our fish, sharing the skin and bones with the waiting pelicans.
If you’d like to take a deep sea fishing charter, inquire about rates. We paid $800 for a private 3/4 day charter (plus optional cash tip), but there are plenty of boats that offer group excursions. If you’re in Naples, just take a walk down the city dock and pick up the brochures posted by the boats.
The best part of the day was dinner. I cooked some of each kind of fish we brought home so we could sample them all fresh from the boat. There is no comparison between fresh caught fish and fish you buy in a store. Our fish was sweet, clean tasting, and tender. The fresh fish keeps for an entire week if you keep it in a ziploc bag on ice in the fridge. We also froze much of it for future use.
Next year we’re planning to head out on another charter. I wonder what we’ll catch?