The Gull Reef Club

6/19/2017

The Maiden Voyage

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:47 pm

Yesterday, Mike and I took our new (to us) boat out for its maiden voyage. It’s nothing fancy, a wide 14’ johnboat with a 15hp engine. Just enough to get us around the Intracoastal Waterways and other local, non-ocean waters.

While we know we have a lot to learn, for our first trip, we did a really good job in preparing ourselves. I do know for next time that I won’t forget my binoculars. I didn’t realize how helpful those would have been while out there. Kayaking really put us in a good position to have quality pre-launch and load-out checklists. Maybe we’re just ‘checklist people’ but I really can’t imagine being out on the water without one. Safety first, ya know? I’m also going to have to figure out something to keep me sun-free(ish). Despite applying SPF 50 every hour I still burned. I know I have options, I just have to decide what works best for me.

The highlight of our first boat trip was a completely unexpected one. Before I get into that, a little background – last November, when Mike and I first started fishing down here, we needed to learn how to filet what we were catching. We turned to that great online educator – Youtube – and searched for instructional videos. As with most Youtube self-learning attempts, we had to sort through a lot of overly produced and under informative crap to find anything useful.

Eventually, Mike found a series of videos by an older gentleman who clearly knows everything there is to know about fishing the coastal Georgia waters and more. Not only were his videos without the usual narcissistic over production you so often see, he also shares our attitude about how to approach/handle any project – if you’re going to do it, do it right.

The name of the guy who hosts these videos – Captain Vince Russo – seemed really familiar to us and so did the accent (if you’ve ever heard an authentic Savannah-tinged Southern accent you’ll never forget it.). A couple of searches online lead us to realize that Captain Vince Russo is a member of a locally famous seafood family. They have been in the business since just after WWII. It was no wonder he seemed familiar – he was a local celebrity (as much as one can be a celebrity in wee little Savannah). In the videos, Captain Russo was using this great knife he mentioned he also sold. Because they have a local store, Mike was able to pick up one of these knives locally. It was really useful for us to make that connection last November.

Fast forward to yesterday – Mike and I are puttering around one of the smaller rivers, actually called a creek on the maps, and found ourselves near some residences with private docks. As we approach one of them, Mike asks me if the guy we see on a dock up ahead is Captain Russo. He had his head down and was cleaning fish on a very nice cleaning station set up on his own dock. The setting looked familiar (like the videos), but I wasn’t 100% sure. The quantity of fishing equipment and the like on the dock indicated this guy was really into fishing, so it could have been him. We went past, waved (everyone waves when you’re boating. It’s so friendly and wonderful), and went on for a bit. We eventually hit a point where we decided to turn around.

On the way back, Mike said he was going to ask the guy if he was Captain Russo. Being relatively unsocial, I told Mike I would back him up if he said something first, but I didn’t have the nerve to start the conversation. As we’re idling past, Mike asks him if he was Captain Russo and indeed – he was! We told him how much we loved his videos and how they were integral in our learning how to filet redfish. We were then honored with an invitation to tie up and come onto his dock to watch him clean a red, some trout, and some flounder. Um – our fishing guru just asked us to watch an in-person, one-on-one lesson?!? YES PLEASE.

We ended up spending almost an hour with Captain Russo. He showed us some useful techniques and methods for fileting local fish. He also gave us so much advice on where and when to fish. Not only that, he has so much experience and is an amazing story teller. What he taught was absolutely invaluable. I am still a little stunned at what an amazing coincidence meeting him was, and how kind and generous he was for inviting us up, and on Father’s Day weekend no less. We are so grateful we chanced upon him when we did. There is nothing I can think of that would have made yesterday better.

I think it’s official. We’re boat people. I’m already starting to ruminate living on a boat for our retirement years. I’m that hooked.

See you on the water!

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The Gull Reef Club