Growing up I loved fishing. I spent many summer afternoons and weekends, sitting by a lake or river, fishing with friends.
Offshore fishing had always been on my bucket list since I was young, but I never had the opportunity. So between you and me, when I found out we would be joining PFG athlete and superstar angler George Poveromo for a fishing competition off the coast of Miami, my inner child was running around jumping with joy! Aside from the personal accomplishment of winning a fishing competition alongside one of the greats, I was set on settling the score with Faith after her soccer team thrashed my team during our mission to Iceland.
On day one of the competition, we headed to a local marina in Miami to meet our crew. Each team was comprised of a captain and a hand, with George Poveromo as my captain, I was certain that we had the competition in the bag.
The mission was pretty simple. Catch all of the fish and win!
There was a scoring system in place, Sailfish were the biggest scorers and all other fish fell somewhere in between with 1 to 5 points per pound.
I was confident at the start of the competition. But as I quickly realized, Faith and the Ladyfish crew were not going to make this easy on us. In fact, after a slow start I was dreading the call to the other team to find out how they had been getting on. We had bagged a few small Bonita which unfortunately were not even included on the scoring system, since they were abundant in the South Florida waters.
We suffered heartbreak at the end of day one, when after a 20-minute fight, I lost what George and his crew believed to be an 80 – 100lbs Wahoo. A fish that could have wrapped up the entire competition on day one! With only 5 points scored. I could do nothing but hope that the Lady Fish had suffered a similarly bad day on the water, but we had no such luck! Faith and her team hauled in a few Tuna, which put her team out front. We had some ground to make up on day two.
After a night on a deserted Island no bigger than 50sq feet we were set for day two and the final day of our competition. We were picked up by our teams at 7am and after meeting the bait boat and stocking up we were on our way. Conditions were similar to day one, a lack of current made drifting the water as planned almost impossible. After a few more failed hours we knew we were going to have to change our tactics.
We decided to head for a wreck just off the Miami coast. The plan was to fish the bottom and try and pick up some fish that would actually score us some points!
I could tell at this point that it wasn’t just me getting twitchy. George had fire in his eyes. He wasn’t going down without a fight. We rigged up, drifted over the wreck and dropped in just a single line. BANG! We were in, a small mutton snapper. Second cast… BANG! Another snapper! Things were looking up. For the next hour it seemed that every time we dropped a line over this wreck we picked up another snapper. They weren’t high scoring but they may just be enough to scrape a victory.
With almost our last cast into this area we stuck into a much bigger fish. After a good fight which almost saw me overboard, we hauled in a 35lbs Cobia. A prize catch and the reaction of the team suggested to me that it might just be enough to win us this competition.
Confident we hadn’t embarrassed ourselves we switched back to drifting the open water in hope of a last minute Sailfish. This was mainly our egos talking now, we wanted to haul in a Sailfish!
With minutes to go before the competition ended one of our lines ripped away and just kept going! As I grabbed the rod, off in the distance the fish jumped high out of the water! SAILFISH screamed one of the crew members. It is well documented that when hooked, Sailfish often give the most incredible display both below and above the water. Conscious not to lose the prize catch, we were submissive in the fight. Eventually we saw the fish again. This time much closer, as it gave up the fight close to the boat. It wasn’t Sailfish as we originally thought, it was a Barracuda! I couldn’t hide my disappointment and worst of all. A Barracuda wouldn’t even count in the competition.
There was nothing left to do but head back to land and see if our respectable haul of small mutton snapper and a large Cobia was enough to clinch us the victory.
As we got back to the marina I was actually nervous. I really wanted to win this.
I also really didn’t want to be cleaning a boat that evening which was the ‘prize’ awaiting the loser.
After two tough days on the water in extremely difficult conditions the only difference had been George’s knowledge of this wreck. We scraped to victory only by the fish we had managed to pull from that wreck. I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to fish with George and his team and when all was said and done the competition was irrelevant. I was just happy to have finally managed to complete my wish to go off shore fishing and in quite some style!
Thank you to my Captain and crew, George and Carl.
Mark Chase is the first international Director of Toughness and joins the company from Gloucester, England. Raised on a diet of climbing, skiing, camping, hiking and rugby, it was obvious that a warm office and a cozy bed was never going to cut it. An ex Semi-professional Rugby player, Mark is used to pushing himself both mentally and physically and is always up for a challenge. You can follow Mark’s journey as Director of Toughness here and social channels including: Twitter | Instagram