by Captain Joe Hendrix & Christine Hendrix
I was 10 years old when I caught my first sailfish, and it was merely by accident.
Every summer when school got out, my parents would always trailer our boat (a 20 foot Stratos center console with a 200 hp engine) down from Homestead to the Keys for a couple of weeks. We would rent the same house on Hammer Point since I was born. Our family from California (my grandma and Papa Mac) would join us, and the summers were spent fishing, tubing and water skiing, among countless other water activities.
Rainy days were spent playing cards with Jolly Ranchers or doing puzzles. My parents met in the Keys and we also have family down here. Back in the day, my dad lived in Key Largo and worked at Williamson Cadillac in Miami, and my mom lived in Miami and worked in Key Largo at Tahiti Village--a floating bar.
The house was on a canal, so we kept the boat there and all we ever wanted to do was go mahi-mahi fishing so we would have fish to eat. There was always competition about who caught the most fish and who caught the biggest fish between my dad, Papa Mac, my brother, Jim, and I.
One day, as we were trolling a few ballyhoo looking for dolphin, one of the rods sent off. I was next to it and, as I grabbed it, to our surprise, a sailfish came jumping out of the water! We were all excited and shocked--it was the last thing we expected because it was not the time of year for them, and we really just wanted mahi to eat. It took a long time to catch him, and I did have my moments of doubt as the fish took me around the boat at least 10 times. I was young and I got tired. But, after a long fight, we caught and released him next to the boat.
My mom took a picture (non-digital) and was very anxious about whether the shot came out since, back then, you couldn’t look at your pictures until they were developed.
After a day on the water, we would always come in and gas up at Tavernier Creek before heading back to the house. They were always very nice there, but, when they heard I had caught my first sailfish, they promptly threw me in the water. My parents were shocked at first, but it didn’t take them long to change their minds and think it was funny. As a result, my Dad, brother and Papa Mac became weary of catching a sailfish, to say the least.
That day was when I first realized how much I love catching sailfish with their beautiful colors and the great show they put on. Fishing has always been a part of my life and always will be.
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