Growing up in a fishing town means you’re exposed to the sport at an early age. For me, I started fishing when I was around the age of four. My dad bought a toy fishing pole so I could learn how to cast before he began letting me use his own. My mom told me when my brother was in school, he would come sliding into the yard on his bike every day at 3, grab his fishing pole, and head to the docks and bridges to catch Snook. I remember being in high school and my friends would be planning in class which of their boats they would take; because they were going fishing when the school day was over. When you’re away from the distractions of city life, you begin to become one with the outdoors and enjoy the little things.
The other day I was riding around town with my mom on our golf cart and we saw a few of the young fishermen of Everglades City fishing from the docks of the Barron River—Chase Stokes (12), Henry Snyder (11), and Kingston Robinson (9). All three held a fishing pole in hand and a bucket of shrimp sat behind them, waiting for them to reach in and grab one when needed. I pulled over onto the grass and asked if they had caught anything yet. They hadn’t just yet, but their excitement and laughter led me to stand with them for a little while and talk about what we all had in common—our love for fishing.
The trio calls themselves the “Snook Slayers” and they live up to the name. Henry said the biggest fish he’s caught so far was a 36-inch Snook down at the Chokoloskee bridge, and Chase’s biggest Snook was 39-inches, but his biggest catch was a 7-foot bull shark. They don’t mess around when it comes to fishing either. Each of them claimed they fish after school and even sometimes before if they have the time.
Kingston was walking back and forth from one dock to another, trying to find the perfect spot for him to catch something. “Hey Chase, tighten that drag,” Henry said to Chase as he cast into the dark, brackish water. I walked over to the dock where Kingston stood and asked him who taught him how to fish. “I learned from my dad,” he replied as I heard Henry yell from the other side, “My dad taught me too!” We then got on the topic of first catches, and the boys began to get eager as they reminisced. Henry and Kingston’s first fish ever caught was a Snook, while Chase stated his was a three-foot alligator gar. Chase fishes in a canal behind his house as well as the docks in Everglades. This canal is where he said he caught the big 39-inch Snook, using an X-Rap lure to do so. They told me they’ve all been fishing since they were around two or three and haven’t stopped since. Each of them wants to be guide fishermen when they’re older. We then got on the topic of boats they want.
“I want a Ranger,” Kingston said. “I want a Ranger too just like my dad!” Chase exclaimed. “I want a 40-foot Tideline,” Henry stated as the boys rambled on about the boats and what they wanted with them. When asked about their favorite fish to eat, Henry said his was mullet. Chase’s favorite is between peacock bass and redfish, while Kingston loves to eat Snook. My time with them ended as the boys ran down the road to look at a snake Kingston had found in the grass.
It’s so refreshing to see these kids and teens outside fishing, laughing and playing under the sun rather than being cooped up inside playing videogames or scrolling through a phone. We may not have a lot of the things cities have for kids and teens but to us locals here in the Everglades we have so much more. We are so thankful to grow up appreciating the outdoors and enjoying nature.