Happy Holidays


The holidays are upon us (again).  As I type this at my desk on a Tuesday morning, it is 39 degrees outside.  I am NOT one of those crabber guys on Deadliest Catch who likes to fish in 39 degree weather and 30 ft seas.  I am definitely more of a 'fair weather' Captain.  So - very few blog posts from me during the chillier winter months.

One of the nice, and cool things about writing a blog is that you never know who you are going to hear from.  A while back, I got a message from a gentlemen named Jon Sutton, who is the content manager for an entertaining website called "Outdoor Empire".  And I must say, the site really does have some excellent content on it, so apparently Jon is doing a great job.

It is a very professional site and has lots of cool information about fishing, hunting and all kinds of outdoor activities.  The site also has a "family" feel to it.  I like that.

So, since offshore fishing is slow these days, please check out a quick, and fun page from Outdoor Empire named: 

11 Reasons Fishing Makes You a Healthier, Happier Person

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family.  I will continue to try and find fishing topics to cover during these slow months because I know, in the absence of my blog posts, your life isn't complete.  :-)  That's my story, and I am sticking with it.

Thanks for reading, everyone.



October, 2017

Yes, I love to fish.  But I also love classic rock and roll, baby!  Okay, I love country music also.

I admit - I am old.  My all-time favorite band from the 80's is Styx.  I never got to see them as a teenager, so when I heard they were coming to Tallahassee, I simply had to get tickets.  So I did.  Since it isn't country music, Terri actually decided to join me.

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast

When we arrived, Terri asked, "Do we have seats or is it standing-room only?"

I sheepishly replied, "Well, I don't know, I suppose we will see when we get in."  So I picked up our tickets (that I bought like 6 months ago) at the "Will Call" box and in we went.

1st step - Grab a beer.
2nd step - Find our seats.

Hmm.  Where is Row A?  Let's see, the letter "A" is the first letter in the alphabet, I wonder if it is the first row directly in front of the stage?

Well of course it is silly!  Styx was my FAVORITE band!  I couldn't afford front-row VIP seats as a teenager, but I da*n well can now!  

As soon as we sit down, Terri turns to me, smiles and says, "I should have figured".  I just smile back and sip my beer.  Let the STYX concert begin!

Pictures are worth a thousand words so no sense is me droning on about how unbelievably amazing the evening was when I can just include some pictures.  Kudos to Terri for doing such a great job with all the pictures.  My picture-taking skills are abysmal.

Here you go.  Enjoy everyone (all three of you readers).  I know I enjoyed it.

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast
One foot from the stage.  Okay, that rocks (literally).

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast

Fishing Florida's Forgotten CoastFishing Florida's Forgotten Coast
Tommy Shaw still killing it on the guitar.

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast
Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast

We SEE you - but trust me - we can't HEAR you.

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast
My hair never looked that good.

Fishing Florida's Forgotten CoastFishing Florida's Forgotten Coast
One of the original band members - James Young.  Loved his expressions.

Oh, and my FAVORITE, FAVORITE picture I have saved for last.  These are the custom STYX guitar pics that Tommy Shaw actually handed me while I was standing next to the stage.  From his guitar to my hand!  

Now, on my desk, right in front of my Capt'n Hook coffee cup.  OMG!

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast


Oh, yeah, one more picture.  You gotta get a shirt!

Capt'n Hook
Feeling a little rough on this Friday morning - Worth it!

I think I will get started on a Spotify Styx playlist so that next time I go fishing, I will just listen to their music!  If you don't like Styx, you should stay home that day.

Thanks for reading (all three of you).  Hi Caroline.

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast

Royal Rangers

October, 2017

A few weeks ago, I met a woman (Rebekah) at my doctor's office who, after some casual conversations about church, discovered that I was a Captain.  She asked if I would be willing to take her and her husband and their local chapter of the Royal Rangers out on a deep-sea fishing trip.

I said I would be happy to.

My perception of the Royal Rangers is that they are kind of like the Boy Scouts, but with a more Christian foundation.  They also have other components like the Adventure Rangers:

So, on Saturday, some parents, a few of the Rangers, and little Alexis (my personal favorite and co-Captain) went offshore fishing.

Unfortunately, it was a very windy day and the seas were rough.  Most species are closed right now, but just for fun, I had intended to head out to K Tower (20 miles offshore) to look for, and fight, some big AmberJack. They are always fun, challenging, and memorable to catch. Unfortunately, we didn't make it that far offshore - simply because we were battling 4-5 foot seas.

I could write a long blog about our trip, but the excellent video they put together really kind of sums the day up.  Even though it was rough out there and a couple people got a little seasick, most everyone (who wasn't barfing) had a really good time. Except for the rough seas, it was a very pretty day. We caught some gag grouper, a King Mackerel and a large bonita.

We ate the King at the restaurant for lunch.  It was yummy.

I got a fantastic gift bag from them which included a cool Royal Rangers shirt an Adventure Rangers hat, but most of all, I got some new friends.  Most of these kids had never been offshore fishing, so I hope it was an experience they will remember for a long time. It was quite the adventure!  I had a great time.

Thank you to Mike for helping crew.  I couldn't have done it without you, my friend.

So here is the cool video David (the Dad) put together.  Enjoy!

Thanks for reading / watching everyone.

I hope to be back soon. I'm running out of year though.


Dancing with the Devil

August, 2017

Now I am a god-fearing man, so don't let the title of this post fool you.

I found several definitions for "Dancing With The Devil." Here is the one that is most relevant for this post:

"Taking a risk that will cost perhaps much more than the 'dancer' can afford."

Snapper season is open until Labor Day, so we are trying to get in as many days of offshore fishing that we possibly can.  Red Snapper may not be open for another entire year - for us recreational fishermen.

On the boat today are:  My brother Jeff, his friend Chris (quite the fisherman), my friend George and his friend Kevin.  We were supposed to have two other people. We waited until 7:30 a.m. at the dock for them, but they didn't show.

I checked the marine forecast:  5-10 mph winds, 1 -2 foot seas.  Perfect!  What isn't so perfect is the thunderstorm forecast:  70% probability of rain and thunderstorms.  Okay, 70% is a lot, but most of those are in the afternoon (right?), so let's get out there quickly boys so we can return quickly and drink a few beers.

We are headed to V Tower 50 miles offshore.  Its starting to feel like home for me out there.  I have lots of good waypoints for Snapper there.

The morning starts off very pleasant:

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast


About 7 miles offshore, we stop to sabiki for live bait.  You don't need live bait for Snapper, but Gag Grouper love them and if you catch your limit on Snapper, you can always have fun catching large AJs with live bait.  So we stop at the bait grounds.

When we come to a stop, the bow turns into the wind and so becomes my first indicator that the weather is NOT what was forecasted.  Consistent 20 mile per hour wind and 4-5 foot seas.  Are you kidding me?  Where the heck did this wind come from?  I check my phone radar.  Oh, that does explain some things:

 Capt'n Hook
The "Severe Weather Aproaching" warning at the bottom of my screenshot is noteworthy.

Storms building on the coast, and a huge mass of storms to our South. A more sane Captain would head back in but hey its SUNNY where we are so I decide to keep heading offshore.  Btw, I don't tell the other guys about the storms around us.  But I do say:

"Okay guys" I say, "We are NOT headed 50 miles offshore to V Tower in 4-5 ft seas and 20 mph winds!".  Actually, none of them disagree with me, even though they don't know the extent of the storms. Or perhaps they do as they also have smartphones, but just assume I know what I am doing.

The dance begins.

So I make the decision to only head 17 miles offshore to Oar Reef to see what we can catch there. Oar Reef is near K Tower.  I like to troll over reefs before I bottom fish them, so we put out the trolling rods.  Within a minute, something hits it hard and we pull in a large Spanish Mackerel. Cooked fresh, I have learned that this species tastes amazing.  So - we have dinner for this evening. And that is exactly what I said, "Great, we have dinner for tonight!".  A few minutes later, we catch another one.  Alright, fishing is starting off well. - And it is still sunny!

Capt'n Hook

The dance continues.  (See those clouds to our South?)

I should never have thought that fishing would continue smoothly. Kiss of death!

We anchor on Oar Reef.  Nothing, and I mean nothing biting.  We use squid, LYs, live bait, tequila, whatever.... Nothing biting for 1/2 hour.  Not even a grunt or rock bass.  Okay, so I have no idea what is going on at this point.  We decide to pull anchor and head towards K Tower which is only a few miles away.  Before we can pull anchor, George tells me that the chum bag is wrapped around the Starboard engine.  Da*n it.  We get that loose.  However, while I'm sitting on the trimmed up engines getting that untangled I see that there is fishing line wrapped around the port engine.  Da*n it!  So, I cut as much as that loose as possible.  As we go to pull the anchor, Jeff tells me that his line is hung up on structure.  Da*n it!!  Okay, we can see if we can fix that as we pull the boat forward.  Then, the anchor rope is knotted in the windlass.  Da*n it!!!  Takes 10 minutes to fix that.  Then, Chris tells me that the anchor rope has caught on the waypoint buoy rope.  Da*n it!!!!  We are able to free that as we move forward but then the anchor is caught hard on structure. Da*n it!!!!!! After almost ripping the cleat on my bow off, we finally free the anchor 1/2 hour later. We pull up ANOTHER rotted anchor with our anchor.

Dddddddddddaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggg  it!!!!!!!!!

Okay, that whole segment of the day sucked.  No way things could get worse, right?

We head to K Tower, but I'm thinking to my self, "Self, we could blow by K Tower and make it, at least to Bryson Reef 30 miles offshore".  There ARE some snapper there.  I take another screenshot before I leave Oar Reef.  Here would be my path:

Severe thuderstorms don't move right?  Although I have noted that the message at the bottom of my phone has now changed to "Damaging Storm Warning".

It is a relatively long run, and as we head farther and farther south, the line of thunderstorms to our south (the direction we are heading farther offshore) starts to look a LOT worse.  The storms are obviously building.  I can't take a screenshot of the radar because I don't get radar on my phone this far offshore.  But I can assure you based on just looking at it, the weather is NOT improving.

I "kind of" take a vote.  Do we keep heading south (farther offshore) or do we turn back around to K Tower.  As we get closer to the southern nasty looking front, George gives me all I need for ammunition, "Perhaps Captain, we should reconsider our decision". Yep, that's all I need.  I immediately turn the boat around and head back to K Tower where it is still sunny:

I used the color yellow in the picture above because we are retreating.  Remember though, that this screen shot is a couple of hours old.  The front we are looking at looks a lot worse.

The dance with the devil has become a little more provocative.

We fish K Tower for a little while, but once again, nothing biting - perhaps the fish know something we don't.  Everyone is still smiling though. Its sunny!  Nothing to worry about.  Okay, Kevin isn't smiling in the background.  But he rarely smiles.

Marc Paul

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast

Kevin almost smiling?  Holy crap.

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast

Kevin, not smiling.

It is about 2 p.m.  I'm feeling like we have pushed our weather luck quite a bit. Remember that a 70% chance of showers means that there is only a 30% of NOT being in thunderstorms.  I'm not a very good gambler.

As we approach the coast, the storms there have also obviously grown.  We are headed straight at one.  I'm starting to think that I will need to head east to St. Marks as the storm is just off our port bow.  We miss it by a few hundred yards.  I'm hauling butt, so what little rain we hit on the edge of the storm stings like heck.

I don't really like dancing that much and while I would like to die fishing, just not this Friday.

We make it back safely to the dock.  Although Jeff continues to call me a "wussy", I'm pretty sure we all feel, to a small degree, that we cheated the devil out of a final dance. That probably isn't a good thing.  I'm not a cat and I am a firm believer that God gives us free-will - even to do stupid things.

That evening, during a horrendous lightning storm in Panacea, and while we are eating at a local restaurant in Panacea, I re-check the radar:

Um, yeah.  Had we had engine problems or gotten stuck out there, for any reason, the result would have been very, very ugly.  The front built and moved North, apparently.

Needless to say, I attended church on Sunday and thanked God for my life - if not for my poor decision-making to go fishing on a day that we definitely should have stayed home.

Be safe everyone - or be reckless and enjoy every minute of it! At this point in my life, I'm not sure which advice is best. Oh, and the Spanish Mackerel we had both fried and blackened that evening at Hook Wreck's restaurant.  OMG - it was amazing!

Thanks for reading everyone.

Fishing Florida's Forgotten Coast
Captain Marc Paul

4th of July - Snapper Fishing

Happy 4th of July weekend everyone!

This year, our actual independence day falls on a Tuesday.

Not the best day for a holiday, so we are celebrating a few days early by going fishing on a Saturday.

And, we are pleased by the fact that Snapper, instead of only being open for 3 days this year for recreational fishermen, has now been re-opened for a few more months on the weekends.

I was so pleased about this decision, that I sent the FWC Director an email that looked like this:

Capt'n Hook

The email was simple, and to the point.  He actually wrote back and said, "You're Welcome". So, no complaining from me today about ridiculous fish species decision-making.  Today, we rejoice in our red snapper holiday fishing endeavors!

On the boat today are:  Cameron, Gene, Jackson, Harry, Tommy, Hunter, and Capt'n Hook.

Here are the college boys hanging out at the Shak the night before:


Cameron, Tommy, Harry and Hunter have all been friends since pre-school.  Don't believe me?  Well, as proof, here is a picture of Cameron and Hunter in their slightly younger days (5th grade):

Hunter Dulin and Cameron Paul

The day started like all others, get up early in the morning, drink some coffee and head out.  I'm a little worried about thunderstorms as there is a 40% chance of storms today.   I don't like thunderstorms out there.  Seas are calm.  Wind is calm.

My goal is to head to V Tower.  I have considered S Tower because the snapper fishing is usually better the more West you go, but it is 20 miles further and I don't want to head quite that far because of the chance of storms.  Not that V Tower is close - 30 miles, but still closer than 50 miles offshore.

Okay, I can't stand it....  I was going to save this YouTube video for the end of this post, but I can't stand it.  It is just too kick-butt to withhold.  I know that videos don't always work perfectly embedded in this blog - hopefully, this one does - with sound.  So, watch the video and then return here and I'll tell you about the rest of our day:

If the above video link doesn't work, or doesn't appear, try clicking on this link:

Special thanks to Tommy for bringing his drone!  That kid is amazing with that thing.

At our 2nd waypoint, it didn't take us long to limit out on Snapper.  Well, we actually only kept 13 because SOMEBODY can't count.  So after we caught our limit, we decided to have a little more fun with the drone:
Marc Paul

Marc Paul

V Tower

And here are a few shots, right before we headed back in, of the boys relaxing by V Tower:

V Tower
V Tower

V Tower
 V Tower

V Tower

V Tower
BFFs!  (We missed you Ronnie!  Keep the kids safe!)

Now if you watched the whole video (above) and you saw Tommy's red snapper at the end, you were probably thinking - "That guy photo-shopped that picture!  No way that snapper was that big!" Nope. He didn't.  Tommy's red snapper really was that big. Here it is again, from two different angles:

Tommy PescatoreTommy Pescatore

That is a monster fish, Tommy!!  And yes, he complained about it the whole time he was reeling it in.  :-).  He does look rather patriotic though.  Proud to be an American.  And yes, I did play that song when we were out there.

Maybe I should have had Tommy take a few steps backwards.  Those other snapper really aren't that small :-)

Although they are hard to see because the red snapper are so big, there are a BUNCH of rock bass in there also.  At least 30-35 fish overall:
Capt'n Hook

And God Bless him, Cameron doesn't mind cleaning fish.  And bless Hunter also, cause he said, "I don't mind learning."  So here he is helping Cameron clean ALL those fish.  They were there for 90 minutes:

Here is the whole motley crew at the end of a very successful fishing day:

Capt'n Hook

What a great day of fishing!  No thunderstorms, no showers.  Just a beautiful (albeit very hot) offshore fishing day with close friends and family on a perfect July, holiday weekend.  I'm certain it doesn't get much better than that in this lifetime.

I've said it many times before, but I'll say it again, I feel blessed.

There is a new restaurant in Panacea called Hook Wreck's.  Jason and Angie are the proprietors. After we showered, we headed up there and Jason cooked up our snapper (fried, blackened and grilled). Man, it was amazing (and obviously, VERY fresh):

Hook Wrecks - Panacea

So that's it all for today folks.  Thank you for reading.  I'm not sure when I'll be back, but it probably won't be too long, and it will probably be for another snapper run.  Gonna be hard to beat this one though.

Happy 4th of July everyone.  Enjoy the fireworks and stay safe.

Capt'n Hook
Captain Marc Paul