You'll Never Forget Your "First"…First Catch, That Is

We love to hear a good fish story.  And hearing about someone’s first catch is always a good tale. Ray Markham tells about some of the “firsts” he gets to experience as a captain. He loves taking kids out for their first fishing trip and showing people how to use an artificial lure for the first time, but sending someone home with a boatload of fish for the first time is by far the best!  In the tale Captain Ray tells us today, he gets a little misty as he reminisces about watching a widower’s new bride make her first catch…then second, third, fourth…she just keeps reeling them in and goes home with a boat full of Flounder. Hey, you’ll never forget your first! Here is Captain Ray Markham’s story: Flounder Caught in Florida
As a fishing guide, my job involves a number of “firsts.” When you take out kids who are new to fishing, your trip is going to be filled with some exciting (and rewarding) firsts. Little ones step aboard for their first fishing trip, they cast their first cast and they are so stoked about catching their first fish. Kids’ firsts are seen through sparkling eyes that glow with amazement.  Every aspect of fishing with kids is new and fun.

I’ve always enjoyed being there for a young person’s first foray into fishing, but I recently had one trip that proved age has no barriers. Experiencing a first catch is exciting at any age!

Years ago, I met John McClintock, who, at the time was a young family man who loved to go fishing. He hired me as a fishing guide many times over the years and we became pretty good friends. I took John on many fishing trips – whether it was with his daughter or a group of friends – fishing with John was always a pleasure. Even after he moved out of the area, we still kept in touch.  As the years went by, I learned that John’s wife had passed and he had moved into a retirement home.

After going through some of life’s ups and downs, John was still up for a good fishing trip…and ready to live life to its fullest during his “Golden Years.” When we fished together about a year or so ago, he told me that there was a new lady in his life, Joyce, and that he was going to marry her.

Just this week, I was so happy when John called me and told me he was going to bring over his new bride for a day of fishing.  Joyce could count on one hand the number of times she had picked up a fishing rod in her lifetime.  She had never caught a fish, much less one on an artificial lure.  She had been fishing in fresh water, but this was her first time fishing in salt water.  We began our trip poking our way into an area where I thought we may find some Flounder – and that we did!  The water temperature was cold, at 62 degrees, but I have seen much colder temperatures over the past year where we still managed to catch some fish.

For the first couple of hours we worked hard casting CAL Jigs with shad tails, dragging them on the bottom. We managed to catch about 15 Flounder, including Joyce’s first!  Her first fish, first saltwater fish, first Flounder, plus, it was her first time fishing with her best catch – John!   She was about as ecstatic as any kid I’ve ever seen with their first fish.  John and Joyce both loved Flounder, so 12 flatties went home with them to be stuffed with crab meat.

The rest of the day was even more satisfying as we pulled in a couple dozen Trout and John took home a nice-sized Redfish. John loves to cook, so he was looking forward to throwing the Red on the grill.

No doubt, this trip was full of “firsts” for Joyce and at least one for John.  John watched with some amusement and pride as his new bride caught her first fish on a fishing trip with him.  At the end of the day, it was a fishing trip full of Kodak moments, and “firsts” that will make lasting memories…even if they happen in the Golden Years.  Some of our firsts are some of the best.

Have you had some amazing fishing “firsts?” Post a comment about your first catch or any other fishing “first” that is a wonderful memory you will always treasure.
Capt. Ray Markham runs the Flat Back II out of Terra Ceia and may be reached for charter at (941) 723-2655 H, (941) 228-3474 C, or via email at flatback@tampabay.rr.com