Boondoggling E-mail
Written by Tony Hart   
Tuesday, 22 October 2013 00:00

What the heck is a Boondoggle? Webster defines it as "doing work of little or no practical value merely to keep or look busy." My definition is a little more refined- it's a rip-roaring helluva bash spent with like-minded individuals coming together to have a good time! I attended the Columbus Day Boondoggle in Perdido Key's Big Lagoon State Park to do just that. While I was technically there to work in the Vendor Village representing some sponsors, I took full advantage of the opportunity and arrived a day early for an epic fishing trip.

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Here's the backstory, I fish in Northeast Florida predominantly, where your choices are basically inshore redfish, trout, flounder, etc. I've always wanted to catch some offshore species of fish, but that just ain't gonna happen at home unless it's a mother-ship trip. My good friend Barrett Fine just happens to live in the area where the Boondoggle was taking place, and he is constantly out in the Gulf of Mexico within a couple miles of the beach catching red snapper, grouper, kingfish, and so on. So yeah, I was selfish and wanted to knock some other fish off the proverbial bucket list! 

The plan was to head out extremely early Friday morning and drive to the Navarre, FL area. I had a couple of guys from my pro staff going with, so we had everything loaded up on the yak trailer and back of the truck ready for the trip. Images of the Beverly Hillbillies come to mind when we were loading all of our fishing and camping gear, not to mention the five kayaks we took with us. We were on the road heading west on I-10 by 4:15am, exhausted but stoked at the opportunity to go fishing offshore. We arrived in Gulf Breeze by 10:30am to meet up with Barrett and a couple of his buddies, Seth and Justen. We got our gear stowed and rigged, then headed to Navarre Beach to chase some snapper. When we arrived at the beach, we were all amazed at how perfect the conditions were. If you’ve never visited the Navarre Beach area, you’re greeted with white sand beaches and beautiful waters!

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Our destination was only a couple miles offshore and I was grinning from ear to ear with excitement. We caught live bait on the paddle out, and also picked up some frozen cigar minnows at a local bait shop. I’d just received a new Feelfree Kayaks Moken 14, and this was her first time on the water. She performed miraculously, even being clocked at 5mph at one point. We finally reached our GPS numbers and Barrett rigged me up with live bait within minutes of arriving. I dropped it down, and shortly it was fish on! I’m sure the smile of my face was epic as I reeled in that pretty red bulldog of a fish. It was quickly measured with a hero shot, then into the cooler it went. My teammate Vince soon had his first red snapper in the yak as well. I believe we totaled about 20-25 red snapper caught with five of them coming home in the cooler. It was an awesome day out on the water, and there’s always a sense of satisfaction when scratching off a bucket list fish. We only stayed out a few hours, as we still had another hour’s worth of driving to get to Big Lagoon State Park to set up camp.  

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We got checked in at the Boondoggle with just a few minutes to spare, and quickly turned to getting our campsite set up. There’s a special talent that comes with putting up a couple large tents in the dark, using headlamps as the only light source. Our teammate Scrib arrived and quickly got the campfire going so we could start cooking dinner. We were too exhausted to fillet the snapper from the day, so we all sacrificed and had steak and sausage from the grill, chased with several beers around the campfire.

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While we didn’t fish for the remainder of the weekend, we were able to hang out with old and newly met friends, sharing fishing stories, having about a million laughs and thoroughly enjoying the experience. We’d gather around the campfire each night, telling lies and having a blast. One of the guys turned on Pandora radio and we jammed to some old school rap like MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice, and I broke off some dance moves like the Running Man to keep the laughs going. That’s the true definition of the Boondoggle. And, I can’t wait for the President’s Day Boondoggle in February at Crooked River State Park in St. Mary’s, Georgia!

 

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