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If you're a regular reader you may recognize the faces of Jessica and Michael Carter from the Fishy Photo competiton in our last edition. Jessica and Michael sent us some great photos which they took when they went fi shing on their own boat on their fi rst visit to Marco last Thanksgiving. As Jessica put it... "we've never been with a guide and usually just muddle around getting lucky now and again!" Well they got lucky in a big way when they won our competition and landed a half day offshore charter trip with Capt Randy Hamilton of Wild Thing Charters. We asked Jessica (a 1st grade teacher) to let us have an account of their trip, together with some photos to prove they weren't exagerating about what they caught! We hope her story below inspires you to send us your fi shy photos and, who knows, you may get lucky too and be the next winning contestant to get out there on the water with one of our many great charter captains on a search for your own personal Moby Dick! "My husband and I headed back to Marco Island on March 17 with a stay through March 21. We had been watching the weather for the weeks leading up to our trip and it just kept getting better and better! Friday morning we were scheduled for a half day trip with Capt Randy of Wild Thing Charters. We showed up at Rose Marina about 15 minutes early and shopped the ship's store. It is loaded with everything you could possibly want or need out on the water. Many people were milling around, excited to be catching the tour boat to head to Key West for the day. I felt a little envious that I was not going with them! The sun was just rising and the weather was heading into the 80s. As I watched from afar, the guides were all talking with one another and you could tell there was a wonder-ful rapport amongst all the guides. I overheard them talking about where they were headed that day. Capt Randy invited Michael and I to come aboard his boat. It was large and would easily accommodate 6 people. As we motored out, we had the opportunity to get a chance to know Capt Randy better. We found out that he grew up about 45 minutes from where I grew up in Pennsylvania. It is such a small world! He was a very personable guide and really made you feel comfortable and welcome.Shark or goliath grouper? (or maybe both!)Once we reached the wreck, he helped get our lines out in the water immediately. The water was churned up from the hard tides of the full moon. We began to catch Spanish Mackerel, a young king fish, and let out line for a shark. It was a steady bite, and the mackerel proved to be a good catch. Capt Randy used them to bait

the line for Goliath Grouper. It got picked up a couple of times and we were left wondering if it would pan out for a Goliath. In the meantime, the line out for a shark started to peel off and I jumped at the chance to reel it in. Capt Randy helped get it set in my belt and then I fought for about 20 minutes against a 5-6 foot black tip shark. It was incredible to see the size of that predator come up out of the water. It was way too big to bring up on the boat so he released it while it was still in the water. After all that excitement, the tide had changed a bit and it was quiet and calm. We idled the time talking amongst ourselves and catching some mackerel and blue runners. All of the sudden, we hear Capt Randy holler here we go! It was Michael's turn! He put on the belt and began to pull what appeared to be a small vehicle off the bottom of the gulf based on the bend in the rod. It was literally a two man job getting that fish reeled up out of the depths. It was awe inspiring to see something this big come out of the water; especially when you realize fish this size are schooling down below!Is it my turn yet?Again, we had a lull in action and caught a few more mackerel. I wanted a chance to try my luck at a Goliath. Capt Randy baited the fist sized hook up with the mackerel and down the weight plunged. Not long after, the rod was bouncing again and Capt Randy told me to get ready! Luckily for me, the fish was 1/3 of the size of the one Michael caught or I never would have been able to reel it in! The morning went by too quickly and our time was up. Michael and I both agreed reeling in one Goliath grouper apiece was more than enough for us to handle. It certainly made the trip well worth it! I have to admit there was nothing better than going out with a professional charter captain to fish. I am hooked and will be going out again the next time we are in Marco!We came to love Marco Island even moreThe rest of our weekend was spent trying out some new spots in our own boat in the 10,000 Islands and Caxambas Pass. We saw many pompano, tarpon, redfish, jack crevalle, bluefish, trout, and a fair share of ladyfish. It was an excellent trip and we came to love Marco Island even more. P.S. Joey's Pizza serves the best Eggplant Salad!"Jessica Carter