Siesta Key Deep Sea and Bay Fishing

  • Owen Smith of Ballachulish Scotland makes the 1st catch of the day, a spotted brown trout.
  • Captain Gary netting our bait for the day.
  • Lorne, Sheila, Kevin, Owen, Brione, Natalie and Morgan make up the Smith clan from Ballachulish Scotland.

One of the things I had always meant to do when we moved to Florida, but never seemed to find time or the determination to follow through with was to spend some time fishing. As a kid in Michigan my dad used to take us kids fishing and we always caught something, from blue gills and rock bass in small inland lakes, large mouth bass and perch in larger lakes or lake trout, whitefish and walleye in the Great Lakes. When I was about 14 years old a friend took me up to Lake Nipissing in Ontario where I caught a 24 inch pike, which the guide through back as too small. I was devastated until I felt a heavy pull on my line and brought in a 49″ pike. I was ruined on fishing forever and when we returned back to Detroit, I rarely fished our local lakes other than in my thirties when we would go out on Lake Erie and limit out on walleye and Stroh’s beer in a few hours.

This past year Kevin Smith, our vacation rental guest and friend, asked me if I would like to go charter fishing with his sons Morgan and Lorne and grandson Owen. For some reason I said I wasn’t sure, but stated I did know a local charter captain who had a good reputation and knew the area waters. Kevin took Captain Gary Gilliland of Double G Charters phone number from me and a few days later told me they had arranged the charter and again asked me if I was going and would I be available on the morning of the charter? I thought for about a half of second and said I would and I was! My thought was to just ride along and take pictures, but the fish were biting and before I knew it, I was doing what I always said I was going to do, but never found or made the time to do, fishing.

Kevin’s older son Morgan showed up timely but groggy for our outing, but younger son Lorne had been over served in Siesta Key Village the night before and did not seem to be able to get out of bed that morning. I learned later Lorne also needed some help in getting into bed early that morning. Lorne had obviously been taken advantage of by the bar maid in the village. Morgan’s young 10 year old son Owen was ready and anxious to get out on the water and catch fish. Our captain was waiting for us at the north bridge on Siesta Key and we were underway quickly. Because of rougher waters further out in the Gulf of Mexico, Gary, our charter captain and owner of Double G Charters, said we would stay in the bay and closer to shore in the Gulf, but not to worry as we were going to catch some fish. We all got on board and in minutes we found ourselves in a grassy area of the bay, with Captain Gary easing up on the throttle and carefully watching the water. Gary pointed to birds over the water and said this is where we will get our bait, cut the engine, threw out the anchor and quickly sent a cast net flying into the water. When he pulled it back up the cast net was teeming with pilchards, which he quickly emptied into our bait tank. Gary cast one more time and we were set for our day of fishing.

Young Owen showed very quickly that he knew something about fishing. Owen questioned me on my fishing abilities and I candidly responded that I had not fished in a number of years. Owen proudly stated he fished all the time with his papa and as I looked over to Owen’s papa, all I could really see was the pride radiating from this gentle Scot who obviously had a special relationship with his grandson. I learned later that Kevin and Owen fished regularly in the Highlands of Scotland where they live and Kevin’s two sons, Morgan and Lorne, were not known to pick up their fishing poles and come along. That was fine with Owen as he received all of papa’s attention. Owen yelled out that he had a fish and was the first to bring one into the boat, a nice spotted brown trout.

When the fish quit biting in this area of the bay, Captain Gary headed out into the Gulf and anchored in the area of Stickney Point off of Siesta Key. We started catching Spanish Mackerel, King Mackerel and soon had enough for tonight’s dinner along with some future meals. Captain Gary pointed out two very large eagle rays that were jumping out of the water about 200 to 300 yards from our boat. Captain Gary took us back to where he picked us up at the north bridge on Siesta Key and quickly started to clean and fillet our fish. I realized I needed to speak up quickly if I wanted to keep the fish racks and heads, which I did. When we arrived back at the condos at Sunset Royale, Owen and I found a good recipe for the Spanish mackerel along with a couple of side dishes, which we prepared while uncle Lorne, a professional chef, continue to recover from the ghosts of Siesta Key Village from the night before. We had a delicious fish dinner and plenty of fish left over for future meals. I learned on this day the importance of hiring a knowledgeable charter captain when planning a day of fishing on Sarasota waters. Only with Captain Gary’s knowledge and contacts on the radio with other captains were we able to bring in the catch we did this day. I also learned to never underestimate the fishing abilities of a 10 year old who is trained by a talented “papa” on how to fish. In addition I learned that young Owen was pretty savvy and a quick study in the kitchen. I could not wait until I used the Mackerel heads for a special fish stock, stay tuned.