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Captain Bill Walsh
Dawn Patrol Charter Fishing
Marco Island, Florida
Phone: (239) 394-0608
In business since 1992 !!


A school for fishing? Never happened, you say?. Maybe not such a bad idea in certain situations. Let’s unfold this story and see.

There are times when you have friends, family or guests that sheepishly admit, as you cruise out for a day of fishing, “Never held a fishing rod in my life! Yep, by golly, this is a real first for me today”. You cringe and usually ask, “How about you other guys?” praying that your challenge is singular. Hopefully it is and thus manageable.

Charter captains face the same situation. But probably see more “first timers” considering that many customers are families down here escaping climes up north that are remote to fishing sites. If you get one or two fishing neophytes in a group you can usually spend extra time getting them started and it all works out. But how about if it’s the whole gang. All six them giggle and admit “First time for our family” Heartstopper!

Had that happen. Happened exactly that way one summer morning just a few weeks back. A family from the Midwest were here for a week. Got hyped on all the “on the water” advertising and scheduled a morning charter.

In the past, when something like that happened, we went fishing and struggled with casting, baiting, reeling, setting hooks and just about everything else. It got a little better as the time wore on and we wore out. And as we neared the end of the charters you’d hear “By, jove, I think I’ve finally got it”. They had learned how to fish but we lost lots of fish, lures and patience in the meantime.

This morning we would try something different. A new approach! We would go to Fishing School!

We found a nice quite cove not far from the marina. One without bugs (hopefully) or fish. After explaining that we would take 15 to 20 minutes to go over the mechanics of fishing repetitively and then have the family practice a bit, in a nice quiet environment, they were enthusiastic even bullish on the exercise.

And so, we went over reel parts; how to hold and cast an open face spinning reel; how to bait a hook with shrimp (limited to the unsqueamish); how a fish bite feels (me tugging on the line) and how to set a hook and reel in a fish. And then they stood at the gunwales around the boat and practiced. “Let your line go earlier’ as some of the early casts came back at us like boomerangs. “When you hear that sound it’s a fish taking line – don’t reel till it stops”. They learned quickly. Not experts, mind you, but comfortable with a rudimentary working knowledge.

“Now let’s go see if it works”. They excitedly finished practice and congratulated each other on their ‘graduation” and off we went.

And it did work. Worked very well, if I must say so myself. They were handing the rods and casting passably and before long here came the fish. That morning, like lots of other summer mornings, we had snapper that nudge and then hit like freight trains. No premature jerks on their part; they all waited for the snapper slam and with squeals and yelps they brought them aboard. Fishing School had worked!

Have tried that approach two or three times since and the folks have not been disappointed. They are a lot more comfortable in these strange surroundings and can enjoy the fishing experience earlier in the trip.

It’s easy to do. Gets a nice reaction. So the next time the brother-in-law tells you it’s the first time ………. Ring the school bell!

Fishing Marco Island, Everglades, Naples, the 10,000 Islands, Florida