When I was a child one of my greatest joys was fishing with my dad. There was something so special about being out on the open water, baiting a hook and then dropping the line with a goal of catching who knows what.
Daddy was old-school, however, and felt it inappropriate for a young girl to be out on a boat with a bunch of men all day. So I didn't get to share the experience all that often.
Over the years I went out on the water with friends here and there but, like so many things in life, fishing got away from me.
Fast forward to now.
The bug has begun biting again, and it's primarily due to one thing. I edit the weekly fishing columns written by three of our South Shore charter captains.
Reading Captains Corner for the past couple of years, I realize how much I miss the adventure and how much I've learned from this trio of experts. I'd say pretty much everything I know about fishing I've learned from them.
I hope you're familiar with these guys. Larry Malinoski, Danny Guarino and Jason Prieto are highly respected around these parts. They know their craft and the waters they fish, which they say are some of the best in Florida.
After Fred Everson, the longtime writer of our old Angler column, moved up north to be near his sweetheart, we needed someone to replace him. I called Larry, whom I had met through a friend, and asked if he might be up to the challenge. I knew he was a former math, science and social science teacher so I figured it was a safe bet he could write.
Ever the enthusiast he immediately agreed. But there was a hitch.
Larry likes hunting and target shooting as much as he does fishing. He recently won first place in the Manatee Gun Club's 1,000-yard long shot. He also enjoys hitting the road on his motorcycle, so it occurred to him that writing a weekly newspaper column might put a crimp in his style. He called to make a counter offer.
How about three columnists instead of one? The idea intrigued me.
Larry introduced me to Danny and Jason, and a deal was struck immediately.
What I really liked about them and the rotating column idea was the potential to give readers a different personality - and voice - each week.
That's exactly what happened.
These guys don't only tell you where the fish are biting like so many other fishing columnists, they teach you about different species and their habits; how to catch them; what equipment to use; and how state regulations affect not only anglers but also the fish populations they target.
I enjoy being around them and hearing what they have to say.
Capt. Larry is a talker, and he has more yarns to spin than Rapunzel had hair. If you've ever imagined a salty sea captain, he's it. And if you charter a trip with him be prepared to be entertained.
As a child in Irwin, Penn., Larry started fishing at pay lakes, which were popular then because they were stocked with fish like bass and trout. Rods and reels were never far from his reach since.
He retired from teaching in 1999 after 33 years in the classroom and needed a place to put his boat. He came to Apollo Beach and launched Fish Hawk Charters.
Now 69, he's pared back the number of trips he makes and guides on a part-time basis these days.
Larry is primarily a bay and gulf water fisherman whose specialty is grouper. He likes landing "big, toothy critters," and then bringing them home for dinner. A Sundance resident, he sees fishing as a battle between man and fish.
Capt. Danny, a former vice president of SunTrust Bank, retired at 45 and started the now defunct Shell Point Bait & Tackle in 1998, which he co-owned with Everson. That prompted him to get his fishing license and "learn how to be a charter captain."
He called his business D. R. Guarino Charters.
I consider Danny to be the philosopher of the group. He often says, "It's not the number of fish you catch, it's the number of smiles you get from the fishing trip."
Larry and Jason see him as the "mature, responsible one." The Ruskin resident is a man of few words, but when he speaks, folks listen. He's more about his clients' experiences on the water and teaching them where to find fish.
Danny, 59, writes a thoughtful, comprehensive monthly forecast for folks fishing South Shore waters. If I had a boat, I'd consider that forecast my bible.
He and Jason specialize in redfish, snook, mackerel, cobia, trout and tarpon, and both pick up clients at Little Harbor or Pirate's Point Resort. Both do inshore charters, which means they fish inshore- or near-shore waters.
Capt. Jason is Mister Personality. At 35, he's the youngest of the group, a rather laid-back fellow who's nevertheless quite outgoing. He discovered fishing at 12 and it became a way of life.
About eight years ago he turned his lifelong passion into a full-time business, Steady Action Fishing Charters, and credits Danny for helping him along. Jason especially likes catching tarpon and big snook - fish that like to fight and fight and fight, which Larry calls "extreme fishing."
Jason shares his fishing knowledge with area anglers by writing articles for three fishing magazines and co-hosting a local radio show with Danny called Tampa Bay Fishing Outfitters Radio, which airs from 8 to 9 a.m. on Saturdays on WHBO 1040AM. Podcasts of their shows are available at fishingguidetampabay.com or tampabayfishingoutfittersradio.com.
South Shore waters stretch about 12 nautical miles from the Alafia River in Gibsonton to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. All three captains consider the area, which is a huge ecotourism draw, to be superb for fishing because the bay offers protection from high winds, high waves and nasty weather.
If you've never fished South Shore I invite you come check it out.
In fact, I think I'm going to follow suit. I've been fishing vicariously through Larry, Danny and Jason for quite some time. I think it's time for me to get out on the water and drop a line.
Captains Corner can be found in the South Shore News and many of the Tampa Tribune's other Wednesday community sections or at http://tbo.com/south-shore.
Lois Kindle can be reached at (813) 731-8138 or email@example.com.