Meet Captain Mark Lyle who fishes commercially and offers flat bottom fishing charters in St. Joe Bay.
We were sight seeing on the ICW just before Lake Wimico, about 12 miles west of Appalachicola in our dinghy, Schoolbus, when we spotted Mark cast net fishing in the main part of the canal.
As we slowed to say hi we noticed Mark’s flat bottom boat was filled with shiny small fish, a whole bunch of small shiny fish, according to Mark maybe a 1000 pds. We learned that the fish were menhaden and that he was catching them to sell to the fish processing plant nearby. They are frozen, packaged, and sold as bait to crabbers. Mark gets 20 cents a pound for pogy, the local name.
Cast netting is a skill and if you catch a lot of fish, it is also hard work. This is the first time Mark had been cast net fishing since he had a rotator cuff operation some months ago. He said he will be sore tonight but it will be a good sore!
As we watched Mark continue to throw his net, 1000’s of fish were flashing through the water, some jumping into the air. The fish were schooling and confined to only a small 50yd segment of the canal. It was very interesting to watch. Our two boats and Mark’s net had little influence on the school of fish.
We passed Mark on our way back to Journey. He was headed to the processing plant to sell his catch. As we pulled up along side his boat, he gave us a couple of fresh fish for dinner. This is the second time on this trip that we had fresh fish for dinner without getting a hook wet! We have learned to always treat fisherman nicely. You never know when supper might be a gift of fresh fish.
Mike and Dana
On Board Journey
Docked at St. Joe’s Marina