Genmar Fishing School

Back to School

Three days at fishing school proves that catching any fish is fun and there’s always something new to learn.

Story and Photos by Elizabeth Ginns Britten

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Fishing School
• Part 2: Fishing School
• Cheeseburgers in Paradise
• Photo Gallery

 Related Resources
• Feature Index

Okay. We’re off,” says Genmar/Evinrude Backwater Fishing School instructor Capt. Merrily Dunn. After a routine safety check and loading our gear, she cranks up the engines of our 21-foot custom Triumph Chaos, part of a seven-boat fleet used for the three-day school, and we’re off. It’s just before 7:00 a.m. and already 80 degrees, and I’m sleepy, thanks to a night of the most intense thunderstorms I’ve ever experienced. I mumble an unenthusiastic “Oh, okay,” knowing I have a full day on the water ahead of me.

Three minutes later Dunn maneuvers Chaos out of the channel after spotting a school of snook near the shoreline. She’s hoping we’ll get our first fish early, so we can focus on the two remaining catches needed to earn our “Sanibel Slam” and the handcrafted custom Chaos rod that goes with it. But nothing bites, so we reel in our lines, cruise a little farther, and drop them again. Still nothing. I start thinking that in spite of all the great things I learned in the classroom the day before about casting techniques, knot tying, and analyzing sea grass, this trip is going to be a bust. And just then, after two hours of trying, I shout “Fish on!” and land my first snook.

That was the first of a dozen fish I’d catch (and release) that day. Although we’d gotten off to a slow start, later that day and all of the next I could see schools of fish practically everywhere and was hooking up on almost every cast. Unfortunately, I didn’t land any tarpon, one of the species that Pine Island Sound is known for, but I did land a variety of fish that made the trip plain old fun. (I later learned the area was recently named one of the nation’s 25 hottest fishing spots by Field & Stream.) None of the fish I caught gave me the same thrill and challenge I’ve had catching tuna, marlin, and sailfish, but a catch is a catch and fun no matter how you slice it. It reminded me of when I used to go flounder fishing in Boston Harbor as a kid.

Genmar/Evinrude’s Backwater Fishing School seems well-suited for anyone who loves fishing and being on the water, wants to fine-tune their existing fishing skills and learn a few new ones, and maybe catch a bunch of fish. Anglers 16 and up of all experience levels can learn something here. I’ve been fishing for more than 23 years, and I certainly did.

Day one is spent on land. The morning session is held in a classroom, and the afternoon session is devoted to five 30-minute practice sessions. Classroom subjects include a truly captivating explanation of game-fish life cycles and an analysis of how Florida’s sea grasses relate to finding fish; an important lesson on basic first-aid and emergency measures, like how to remove a skin-impaled hook; a lesson on boating safety; and an electronics session sponsored by Raymarine.

Next page > Part 2: The waters are full of tarpon, speckled trout, snook, kingfish, and redfish. > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

This article originally appeared in the February 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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