For his North American Travel Scholarship trip, Grand #4 wanted to go python and shark hunting as well as deep sea fishing.  After watching shows about catching pythons, we all assumed that we would be able to go into the Everglades and catch a python, we thought finding a shark would be relatively straightforward, and that we would catch a monster fish when we went deep sea fishing.  Simple, right?  Well, not so much.  

Having learned the lesson on Grand #1’s trip regarding the elusive Northern lights where we saw not one single wave of colored lights and Grand #3’s 6-hour deep sea fishing excursion where we received not one single nibble on the fishing poles I knew to increase the odds of catching a python by booking two days with our guide, Bill Booth.  Surely, I thought, we would catch a python during 12-hours of hunting through the Everglades.

But what I am learning on the Grand’s scholarship trips is that when the objective involves catching something wild or seeing a natural phenomenon there are no guarantees, even with the best of guides.  It is also important to set that expectation going into the trip for the Grand but probably more importantly for yourself.   As I came to learn. 

During our hunt for the elusive python we made a new friend with Bill Booth, we saw parts of the Everglades that we would have never seen, we learned about the erosion of wildlife in the Everglades over the last 20 years and how much of it was due to factors other than the invasive python.  We saw hawks and Monarch butterflies, water lilies and five foot tall water reeds that I’ve only ever seen on the Nile River.  And, we spent quality time together sharing a common goal of finding a python as we silently slipped through the waters of the Everglades on a flat bottomed boat and hiked through dense brush on five channel islands.

While the optimal time to hunt for python, due to the cool weather and warm sun, is January it is not typically a good time of year to catch a shark due to the cooler temperatures of the Gulf waters.  This is a small but important fact that I did not know when planning the trip.  Naively, we met Captain John Brossard with Shark Chaser Charters confident in our ability to catch a shark.  But as 3-hours passed with no shark bites or sightings we began to grow faint of heart. 

Fortunately, Captain Brossard was determined that we would catch a shark.  Our last stop was a sand bar exposed by the receding tide.  Running alongside the sandbar was an 11’-12’ trough of water which had produced sharks on prior trips.  After casting the bait into the trough, Grand #4 immediately received a hit on his line.  Captain Brossard coached him into reeling the running shark in and how to exit the boat out onto the sand bar where the Black Tip shark was brought up onto the sandy beach.  It was a proud moment which quickly moved into operation shark #2!  After casting once again into the deeper water, Grand #4 snagged another Black Tip shark which was also brought up onto the sand bar for photos and tagging before releasing back into the wild.

It was now time to adventure out into the deep sea to catch a large fish!  We joined Captain Paul and Jesse on the Dalis Fishing Charters boat and prepared to make the trek out into the Gulf of Mexico.  Grand #4 explained that he wanted to catch a large fish and Captain Paul said we would need to get into 100’ water in order to find them.  So, as we churned our way across 40 miles of reasonably calm waters we shared our python and shark adventures.  Both Captain Paul and Jesse were amazed that we caught two sharks which made me grateful all over again for the extra effort of Captain Brossard.

After a gorgeous sunrise we arrived at our first stop, teeming with fish on the sonar.  Grand #4 dropped his line with bait into the water and immediately had a strong pull on his pole.  Captain Paul gently coached him through the proper method to successfully snag his catch.  After a few minutes of hard work, Grand #4 was rewarded with what would be the largest catch of the day, a 28 pound Grouper.  It was a very proud moment!  After bringing up a few smaller sized Grouper we made our way to the next spot teeming with fish.  And so it went until we had reached our limit of Grouper and Red Snapper.  Captain Paul and Jesse kept telling us how fortunate we were to have caught so many large sized Grouper.  It wasn’t until we arrived back at the dock and drew a crowd, as our catch was unloaded, that I realized we had indeed scored.

As two of our fish were filleted for our dinner we offered for the remaining fish to be kept by our captain who explained that they would share them with the dock hands who had arrived prior to sunrise to ensure our boat was gassed and ready for our outing.  Armed with our fillets we made our way to The Dock at Crayton Cove restaurant where they were grilled and served with the best homemade tartar sauce I’ve ever eaten.  

We may have been hunting for python, sharks, and large fish but we found so much more during the adventures together.

Mary Beth I have a passion for creating and experiencing unforgettable moments and sharing those with others. I hope that this story has helped you experience one of those moments.

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