My first experience deep-sea fishing was one my stomach will always remember

Published 5:43 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Friday was the farthest out at sea I have ever been.

That’s not saying much, since I guess 10 feet is probably the deepest I’ve swam in.

I went deep-sea fishing with Charisma Charters at Mexico Beach. It was incredibly thrilling. It was unbearably nauseating. Yet I can’t wait to get back out there. I’ll start at the beginning.

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I rode down Thursday evening with William Hand, a marketing consultant at The Post-Searchlight, and Austin Hobson, a car dealer at Hobson Chevrolet in Cairo. The three of us were pumped, champing at the bit to reel in every gilled beast that decided to bite our hooks.

Meeting us at the beachside house was Post-Searchlight general manager Mark Pope, Bull Built Buildings salesman Scott Brown and Larry Jenison, publisher of the American Classifieds of Tallahassee and Valdosta.

The plan was for all six of us to wake up around 4:30 a.m., chug coffee, shovel down a biscuit, take care of business with the toilet, then head to the docks. Easy.
We got there early. The sun was still a good 45 minutes from rising. Pope’s cooler—chock full of Bud Light, sodas, Gatorades and sandwiches—was hoisted onto the back of the boat.

I stepped into the cabin and greeted the first man I saw—Captain Brad Timmons. The fellow sported flip-flops, blue fishing shorts, a faded yellow PFG button-down and a red visor that looked like it had been drenched in its fair share of saltwater over the years.

“I’ve never been deep-sea fishing before,” I told him.

“Well…,” he trailed off, “You’re gonna like it.”

I nodded and smiled. Good enough for me.

Within no time, the boat was pulling out of the marina. The Captain turned to us and made an announcement.

“Okay, y’all, it’s gonna be a little rough out there today.”

All six of us shrugged. Big deal. I had taken 50 mg of Dramamine right when I got up and had another 50 mg in my pocket. If i was sick, so be it. At least I would feel better afterward.

Two hours later, I wish I had brought more Dramamine—way, way more. At that point, though, I don’t even think it would have done me much good. The waves were miserable, six to eight-foot swells that rolled the boat on its sides and rolled my stomach in about 10 other directions. Standing up felt like I was spinning in circles. My head felt hot. I needed to get outside. Fresh air would do me good.

I opened the door and was greeted with a powerful spray of ocean water. The waves were drenching the deck. But at least it was cold and crisp. I sat down on a cooler, closed my eyes and tried my best to fight off the feeling.

After three hours of bouncing and thrashing our way out at sea, The Captain slowed down the boat for us to fish our first spot. We were about to pull in some Amber Jack.

I underestimated how much of a workout the things are. Every fiber of muscle in my arms was locked tight as I fought them closer and closer to the surface. I managed to catch two. Beautiful fish. I hear they taste even better.

We reeled in our limit of six and The Captain throttled us to the next spot. Then the nausea hit like a hundred pounds of bricks landing on my stomach. Whatever was in my belly wanted out, fast. I stumbled to the edge and hurled. I waited, then got sick again. I thought I was done and—nope, there was more. Everyone around me had their lines out and was reeling up fish. Meanwhile, I was turning the water red from my morning Gatorade.

I was textbook seasick. The nausea was gone, but the intoxicating dizziness kept me from standing up straight. I practically crawled to the cabin and lied down on a bench. With my eyes closed, I listened to The Captain behind me crunch on some Classic Lays chips. My stomach turned. I struggled to keep it down.

I only managed to come back out to the dock for a few minutes to reel in some more pink snapper for bait. Even that was too much for me. The sickness had obliterated my balance. I marched back into the cabin and laid down for the rest of the trip, defeated.

On our way back in that afternoon, the choppy water calmed down to a bearable level. I was sure the ocean was mocking me. Capt. Chuck Guilford of Charisma Charters took a photo of the six of us with our catches, and then we headed back up to Bainbridge, dead exhausted.

Now I’m looking at a freezer full of fresh fish, including one of my Amber Jacks. That alone was worth the trip. I just hope next time the waves are little kinder to me.