Tag Archives: Charter Fishing

Tarpon Fishing with Emerald Shoals Excursions

THE PERSON

Tucker Strickland runs Emerald Shoals Excursions out of Carrabelle.  The son of a fly fishing guide, Tucker grew up on these waters.  Specializing in sight casting to Tarpon and Redfish, Tucker has been helping anglers from all over the world catch the big one for seven years now.   While primarily based out of Carrabelle, Tucker also follows the Redfish to Louisiana later on in the year.

Tucker, Fly Fishing Tarpon Guide, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

EMERALD SHOALS

 Wheat and I were lucky enough to count ourselves in those numbers a couple of weeks ago.  We arrived bright and early on the most beautiful morning.  It was perfect for in-shore fishing and sight casting: the water was like glass.  And if you’re thinking that “Carrabelle” and “Emerald Shoals” don’t quite match up, the pictures in this post should sufficiently disprove your theory.

Lanark Village, Florida | Oysters & Pearls

Lauren of LGDunston on their Family Dock in Lanark  | Oysters & Pearls

The View from Lanark Village | Oysters & Pearls

THE BAIT

Tucker first took us over to catch some bait.  That man throws a pretty cast net.  And can drive the boat with his foot at the same time.  It’s truly impressive.  He did ask his bride to drive a couple times, though. ;)

Tucker (Emerald Shoals Excursions) and Lauren (LGDunston Gyotaku) In Their Element | Oysters & Pearls Tucker of Emerald Shoals Throwing a Cast Net for Bait | Oysters & Pearls Tucker of Emerald Shoals Throwing a Cast Net for Bait | Oysters & Pearls Tucker of Emerald Shoals Throwing a Cast Net for Bait | Oysters & Pearls Tucker of Emerald Shoals Throwing a Cast Net for Bait | Oysters & Pearls

THE FISH

After we caught what Tucker deemed a sufficient amount of bait fish, we switched over to what we came for: fishing.  We started hooking Trout right off the bat.

  Lauren (LGDunston) Fishes with Husband Tucker (Emerald Shoals Excursions) | Oysters & Pearls Tucker (Emerald Shoals Excursions) with a Salt Water Trout | Oysters & Pearls Tucker (Emerald Shoals Excursions) with a Salt Water Trout | Oysters & Pearls Wheat with a Saltwater Trout he Caught on an Emerald Shoals Excursion | Oysters & Pearls

Then Tucker’s wife Lauren (of LGDunston Gyotaku Fish Prints – you’ll meet her more thoroughly in the next post) caught a Flounder that she thought she might demonstrate a gyotaku fish print with for us.  It didn’t end up working out, mainly because this Flounder looked like what my father, the good Doctor, likes to call “groceries.”

Lauren of LGDunston, Fishing with Husband Tucker of Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls Flounder, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls Flounder, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls Tucker with a Flounder, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Next up: more big, beautiful trout.

Trout, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Trout, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Trout, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Trout, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

The family that fishes together, stays together.

Lauren of LGDunston, Poses with her Trout and her Husband, Owner of Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

 Afterwards we headed all the way around remote Dog Island to St. George Island.  Here, we sight casted to some Bluefish and Redfish, which was pretty awesome.  We caught a couple more good trout, too.

A fish straight out of the water is truly a thing of beauty, and something I’m grateful to say I get to see fairly often.  I know Tucker and Lauren consider themselves fortunate to get to do it daily.

This Trout Wheat caught is an excellent example.

Trout, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Close-Up of Trout, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tucker and I both caught a couple really pretty Redfish here.  Now that is a fun fish to catch!  Not to mention beautiful.  The spots on their tails are all unique, and their pale pink undertones get after this fish-loving girl’s heart.

Sight-Casted Redfish, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls Redfish Spot, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls Redfish Face, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls Natalie of Oysters & Pearls, Posing with the Redfish She Caught, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

THE BIG ONE

Finally, Tucker took us over to the Tarpon Flats.  Not many people even know it, but there is world class Tarpon fishing here in the Panhandle.  And with a guide like Tucker, you are setting yourself up for the most exciting catch-of-the-day ever.

Tucker Fly Fishing for Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tucker is a pro, but as long as you can fly fish, he will guide you right down to when to throw your fly and where.  He can predict exactly where the fish will be, on which side of the boat, and will let you know when you’ve got your “shot” and where to put it.  He likens Tarpon fishing to deer hunting: you wait around in a spot you know they like to come, and then you’ve got one shot at them.  We didn’t have to wait too long before Tucker got a shot, and it was quite possibly the most fun I’ve had while fishing and not catching a fish ever.  He hooked a Tarpon on his fly in short order, and while the rest of us watched in awe, this 80-pound dinosaur jumped, rolled, and generally showed off.

Tarpon Jumping - Emerald Shoals Fishing Excursions  Oysters & Pearls.jpg Tucker Hooks a Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions  Oysters & Pearls.jpg Tucker Fighting a Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions  Oysters & Pearls.jpg

Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Even if you don’t fly fish, (or even fish at all!) one trip like this makes you want to learn.  The thrill in the air is palpable. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…

THE END

We called it a day after the Tarpon broke the tip of Tucker’s fly rod.  Even so, it was a fair catch, since Tucker got the leader to the tip of his fly rod before the breaking occurred.  He tried to get in the water with him, but the Tarpon went under the boat and that was that.  We headed in for some cocktails and a meal of freshly caught Trout, some fresh shrimp, grits, and homegrown veggies from Lauren’s garden.  (She claims to be best at catching vegetables, leaving most of the fishing to Tucker.)

View from Lanark Village, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Fresh Shrimp, Fish, Grits, and Homegrown Veggies,  LGDunstion Gyotaku Fish Prints | Oysters & Pearls Fresh Shrimp, Fish, Grits, and Homegrown Veggies,  LGDunstion Gyotaku Fish Prints | Oysters & Pearls Who Knew Fried Shrimp Heads Were Such a Delicacy? LGDunston and Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

Remember these shrimp: You’ll be seeing them again tomorrow.

Thank you so much to Tucker and Lauren for an amazing day on the water!

 Tarpon, Emerald Shoals Excursions | Oysters & Pearls

GO FISH

Want a Tarpon fishing thrill of your own?

Book a trip with Tucker at Emerald Shoals Excursions

And tell him I sent ya! ;)

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Until Next Time

Fishing with Lady J Charters

If you’ve been keeping up with me on Instagram, you know I was on a bit of a local vacation last week.  We went fishing offshore with my dad twice last week and it was so much fun/amazing/exhausting/exciting. He took us out with Captain Jacob Tankersley (who we have known since we were little) on the Southern Lady.  It’s snapper season (for nine very short days this year), and Jacob really put us on them.  We slayed the red snapper and red grouper, scamp, some white snappers, a few beeliners, a king, and even a black fin tuna!  I’m going to speed through two very full days of fishing with little commentary, but I’ll preface it with this: this was the best fishing trip(s) I’ve ever been on.  I know snapper season is only 9 days this year (and completely booked, by the way) but if you’re ever in the market for a charter fishing trip with the best Captains and deckhands around, check out Lady J Charters.  They are family friends, but also some of the best folks around.  And like Lady J Charters on Facebook, too, for year-round jealousy-inducing pictures.

DAY ONE

Sunrise of Port Saint Joe from the Southern Lady | Oysters & Pearls

Sunrise over St. Joe Bay | Oysters & Pearls

Wheat Pretending to be Captain Jacob | Oysters & Pearls Sunrise over Cape San Blas | Oysters & Pearls

A quick note: Marc caught this 34-pound Red Snapper.  That is INSANE, in case you were wondering.  In all these Day One Pictures, it’s the GIANT fish.First Snapper of the Day | Oysters & Pearls Fishing Sisters | Oysters & Pearls Natalie's First Snapper of the Day | Oysters & Pearls

Destin (holding our fish) was by far the best deckhand ever.  He has been fishing his entire life in St. Joe Bay and it showed.  He helped us out so much, was constantly working, and was a really, really nice guy.  Anna Jo's Snapper | Oysters & Pearls Fighting a Big One | Oysters & Pearls Beer Thirty on the Southern Lady | Oysters & Pearls Boat Drinks on the Southern Lady | Oysters & Pearls Snapper Fishing | Oysters & Pearls

Shark bait. Would’ve been huge.Shark Bait | Oysters & Pearls

Wheat and a Scamp.  Good eatin’.Wheat and a Scamp | Oysters & Pearls

More shark bait.More Shark Bait | Oysters & Pearls

Playing with a Remora.  They stick to sharks, but they will also stick to hands.Playing with a Remora | Oysters & Pearls

Back to the Snapper.Snapper Fishing on the Southern Lady | Oysters & Pearls Cooler Full of Snapper, Scamp and Red Grouper | Oysters & Pearls 34 pound Red Snapper | Oysters & Pearls

Oh, and I caught a bonita, which just about killed me, and is good for nothing except bait.  I had to include it just because of the trouble it gave me. Bonita | Oysters & Pearls

We cooked a super fresh fish on the way in.  Chef Doc did a fantastic job.Cooking a Couple on the Way In | Oysters & Pearls Frying Fish on the Way In - It Doesn't Get Fresher Than That  | Oysters & Pearls Fry Pappy | Oysters & Pearls Chef Doc | Oysters & Pearls

Captain Jacob Tankersley and his niece, Lilly Jae, posing with the 34-pound Red Snapper and a Beeliner.Captain Jacob Tankersley and Lilly with a Beeliner and a 34 Pound Red Snapper | Oysters & Pearls

The whole gang – Captain Jacob, niece Lilly Jae, (Deckhand) Destin, and all six of us: Doc, Scott, Marc, Anna Jo, Wheat and myself – with a whole lotta fish.Captain Jacob Tankersley's Southern Lady Crew | Oysters & Pearls Cart Full of Snapper | Oysters & Pearls Red Snapper | Oysters & Pearls Red Snapper | Oysters & Pearls

 DAY TWO

This was my little cousin Cason’s first offshore fishing trip, and he was so excited he couldn’t stand it.  Wheat woke him up (early) Friday morning, and Cason jumped up immediately and said “DID I EVEN GO TO SLEEP???!!”  He was excited about everything that morning, right down to the buttered biscuit we got him at McDonald’s, which he declared the best biscuit he’d ever had.

Cason Impatiently Waiting to Fish | Oysters & Pearls Cason and his Daddy Fishing | Oysters & Pearls

When Cason hooked his first fish, he yelled, “This ain’t like a catfish, Daddy!”  Indeed, it’s way more fun than catching a catfish.  He tried holding it up himself, but it was too big. ;)Cason's First Red Snapper | Oysters & Pearls Cason Couldn't Quite Hold his Red Snapper Himself | Oysters & Pearls Cason and his First Red Snapper | Oysters & Pearls

So serious!

John Michael, Cason, and Mike - 3 Generations of Halleys | Oysters & Pearls

He was worn out before too long.

Cason Was Worn Out | Oysters & Pearls

But everybody took a break every now and then.  Just for a minute.

Boat Drinks on the Southern Lady | Oysters & Pearls Captain Jacob Tankersley | Oysters & Pearls

Cason slept until Doc woke him up to reel in whatever had just hit the flat line.  Turns out, it was a Black Fin Tuna.  It took Cason a little while to reel in (and almost took him out of the boat!), but he did it and was SO excited.  It was so much fun to watch!Cason Fighting his Black Fin Tuna | Oysters & Pearls Cason Fighting a Black Fin Tuna on the Southern Lady | Oysters & Pearls Black Fin Tuna | Oysters & Pearls Black Fin Tuna | Oysters & Pearls

And that about did him in for the day!The Black Fin Tuna Wore Him Out | Oysters & Pearls

It finished everyone else, too, and we headed back in.  Fishing Trip on the Southern Lady | Oysters & Pearls John Michael, Natalie, and Wheat on the Southern Lady | Oysters & Pearls Natalie and Wheat on the Southern Lady | Oysters & Pearls Southern Lady 2014 Snapper Season Haul  | Oysters & Pearls Cason and his Black Fin Tuna | Oysters & Pearls Cason and his Black Fin Tuna | Oysters & Pearls Cason and his Black Fin Tuna | Oysters & Pearls

In addition to all this Lady J fishing, Saturday my mom and I spent some quality time in downtown Port St. Joe.  We visited our favorite haunts, including lunch at Provisions, a pit stop at the new Gifted Gourmet, some shopping at my all-time favorite boutique, Joseph’s Cottage, and a locally brewed beer from Grayton Beer Company at the Haughty Heron.  (Side Note: You can buy my handmade oyster ornaments there!)

Mediterranean Chopped Salad at Provisions in Downtown Port St. Joe, Florida | Oysters & Pearls

The Gifted Gourmet in Downtown Port St. Joe, Florida | Oysters & Pearls

Joseph’s Cottage in Downtown Port St. Joe, Florida | Oysters & Pearls

30A – Grayton Brewing Company at Haughty Heron | Oysters & Pearls

On Saturday, Wheat and my Dad helped Zach out at the Golly Whopper Fishing Tournament Weigh-in in Mexico Beach.  They handled the cooking, while Mama and I watched, socialized, and had a couple beers.

Doc and Wheat Cooking at the GollyWhopper Fishing Tournament Weigh-In in Mexico Beach, Florida | Oysters & Pearls Red Snapper at the Golly Whopper Fishing Tournament Weigh-In at the Mexico Beach Marina | Oysters & Pearls

At the GollyWhopper Fishing Tournament in Mexico Beach | Oysters & Pearls

Saturday night, Zach and Michelle came over for some freshly caught, freshly seared Black Fin Tuna steaks with Asian sauce, spicy mayo, wasabi whipped potatoes, and salad. The “Asian sauce”  was new to me and earned rave reviews, so I’ll just have to re-do it and take pictures so that I can share it with y’all.  ;)

Freshly Caught and Seared Black Fin Tuna with Friends and Family | Oysters & Pearls

After a leisurely Sunday morning with the house (and beach) to myself, Mama and I went for a bike ride all over St. Joe Beach.  I made it all week being good about sunscreen, and the bike ride got me. Typical!

IMG_5592

Sunday Afternoon Bike Ride at St. Joe Beach, Florida | Oysters & Pearls

Checked the girls (aka bees) in Bristol on the way home, despite the summer thunderstorm.  They’re doing great!

Honey Bees, Worker Bee Cells, and Larvae | Oysters & Pearls

And then when I finally actually made it back to Bainbridge, I quick-pickled some wax beans and dragon beans Marc and Anna Jo had brought me.  Delicious!  Recipe coming soon.

Behind the Scenes of Blogging: Quick Pickled Beans | Oysters & Pearls

 It was the very best vacation I’ve had in a long time.  There was even more fishing, but I’m saving that for another post!  Hope everyone else had a great weekend.  It’s back to Bainbridge/Thomasville/reality for me, but I’ll be honest – I’m grateful to have a slow and easy week this week to recuperate from all of May.  I have run myself ragged and right into a sinus infection this past month, so I’ll be resting up and detoxing this week, as well as sharing all my adventures with y’all. :)

And Happy Birthday to my sweet friend, Sara!! Xo!

Until Next Time