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Bio & History

My name is Captain Rich “On the Rocks” Nelson and my passion for the water and what lies beneath has been with me since I could hold a fishing pole.  My fishing album is my most prized possession as it tells the story of my life; gradually growing taller over the years as the fish in hand also gradually grew larger.  From my first fish in a small pond, to my first snook with my dad, to finding and learning new fishing spots, the excitement that follows my fishing experiences remains what I cherish most in this world.   The adrenaline that courses through my veins as I move into position on a fishy looking spot and feeling the *THUMP* when a monster grabs the line.  The flashes of madness that ensue while the unbeknownst creature tries to pull you into the water as it runs and jumps in between boats, bridges and docks is what I live for and what I love to share with those around me.  I specialize in reading the water and weather conditions between the bay, inlets and offshore waters of Florida’s east coast.  My teenage fishing years hopping inlet rocks and quietly stalking fish hiding in the shadows is where I earned my nickname.  I will never forget the joy in my father’s eyes when he marveled at me in the victory of each of my fishing milestones. I hope to share new experiences and wonderful memories with you as we chase the powerful game fish that roam the shadows.

The Two Fishing Adventures That Made Me Who I Am
I remember the excitement building when my dad and I dug through a dirt pile searching for some wriggly earthworms for bait.  Sadly, none were to be found, but my dad made due pinning a few skinny centipedes to a tiny hook probably knowing all too well the feeling of excitement coursing through his 5-year old son’s brain.  I sprinted towards the lake while urging my dad to hurry up and cast the line in the water for my first fishing trip.  My dad made a short cast under the branches of a small tree overhanging the sloping bank of his buddy’s backyard pond.  My old man gave me the run-down I imagine all fathers give to their son on their first father and son fishing trip.  “Ok son, keep the slack out of your line, and keep your eye on the bobber.  When it goes under, set the hook and don’t give that fish any slack!”  My dad handed me the pole and began to walk away.  I don’t remember my dad walking more than 20 feet before the bobber went under and I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest!  I immediately pulled the rod back and the tug of war ensued!  My shouts at the fish caught the amazement of my dad who doubled back to share in the excitement and shout real-time coaching tips to his son’s first fish.  Plenty of yelling followed from us countered with ample thrashing and splashing from the specimen at the end of my line.  When my dad leaned over the bank to lip the biggest fish I had ever seen, I remember I jumped so high in the air that I almost went tumbling into the water when I came back to the ground.  The childhood picture of me toothless and gleaming at my first fish remains at the front of my fishing album and is my most prized possession.

The start, my 1st Fish!

Loved ones tell me stories of how fishing and love of the water had always coursed through my father’s veins.  With the same blood running through me it came as no surprise to my mom that I would follow in the same fishing path.
I continued on my fishing journey whenever I was fortunate enough to be near any body of water.  Species and location were irrelevant as the sheer excitement of catching a fish overwhelmed all other conscious thoughts.  Numerous blue gills and the occasional largemouth bass followed over the years until my dad decided I was old enough to chase the fish he held in the highest esteem.  I was in fourth grade when my dad saved up enough money to buy a small 12 foot aluminum jon boat with a troublesome 15 horsepower engine to propel us on our first of first boating journey together.  When the stars aligned we would pack the boat and set course for the West coast of Florida to fish his favorite spots in Chukoluskee State Park.  During the precious hours we spent together he would reminisce with stories of his time on the water and I would listen with unwavering attention to his adventures pulling monster snook out of the stained back country waters.  He would always underscore the intelligence of this wary fish when on fortunate occasions he was able to outsmart this worthy opponent.  The elusive snook lived up to its reputation as it would take several more trips before my first encounter with the denizen of the shadows.

My dad woke me up at 4AM the second weekend of May 1995 for an early start to fish Chokoloskee State Park to celebrate my 12th birthday.  Despite the wee-morning hour and my father’s orders, I was too excited to sleep as we made the cross-state journey from Miami to Florida’s West coast.  Greeted at the boat ramp by swarms of backcountry mosquitos, we quickly slipped the boat into the lapping water and shoved off in search of my dad’s prized quarry.  Though my father held snook in the highest of esteem, I remember placing no special significance on any particular species of fish at that early stage of my fishing career.  My dad brushed off my requests to pull over and catch the bait fish jumping in the wake of our jon boat as he raced the sunrise to his favorite spot.  After navigating the hazardous shallows and oyster bars that compose Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands we finally arrived and quietly lowered the anchor at a place which will forever be engrained in my memory.  I had become a confident young boy with the fishing pole and quickly began casting as the sun began to peek up over the horizon.  I stealthily sent my lure towards the rip-line following an oyster bar just off the white sand of the spoil island while my dad whispered pointers from the memories of his fishing adventures.  The outcome of that cast was different yet reminiscent of the thrashing and splashing of my first fish that pulled my red and white bobber under the water 6 years ago.  I remember never having time to set the hook as something grabbed hold of my lure and line started peeling off my small spinning outfit.  A brief stunned delay ensued before my dad came to his wits and shouted, “That’s a fish son!”  Once again, my heart felt as it was going to jump out of my chest as I focused on the line racing of my reel! 

The drag continued to sing a non-stop tune as whatever was on the other end on my line either had no idea it was hooked, or just had no intention of slowing its journey.  My dad jumped into action and pulled in the anchor while simultaneously advising “We’re gonna have to chase this one down!”  My old man pulled the cord to start up the outboard, and continued instructing “Keep the line tight and rod tip low!”  I remember a certain degree of uncertainty on how to follow my father’s advice of keeping the line tight as the fish continued to peel through the hundred yards of 10# line spooled on the sporty little Shimano fishing reel my father gave me for my birthday.  With the engine fired up we began to chase down the fish and gain back line which had worn dangerously low.  The fish and fisherman approached the submerged oyster bar at the same time and the dynamic of the battle change from just holding on for dear life to the most challenging tug-of-war in which I have ever participated.  The fish charged for the oysters trying to cut the hair-thin line barely connecting us.  My dad continued coaching me from the stern of the boat.  “Rod up, don’t let her wrap you on those oysters!  Line tight son!  Pull her away from those oysters!” the fish began weaving in between the oyster bars and would occasionally make a mad dash under the boat trying to cut the line on the propeller.  After dodging obstacle after obstacle the father and son team managed to pull the fish away from the obstructions and into open water.  For the first time, we caught a glimpse of what was at the end of my line.  My dad let out, “IT’S A SNOOK SON!!!” 

I could not believe the size of this fish compared to what I previously thought were monster largemouth bass!  My dad now pleaded for me to keep the rod low to discourage the fish from jumping and cutting the line with the razor sharp gill plates that accompany this prized game fish.  It is a miracle I kept my composure as the snook was splashing and pulling now only several feet from the boat.  My dad continued coaching me, “Keep the rod low, line tight, and bring her over to me” as he waited in eager anticipation with the landing net.  I felt I would never get the fish close enough for my dad to net as the fish would sprint away 10 yards for every 5 I reeled in.  My small cramped forearms quivered beneath a sweat drenched shirt as the sun had risen well above the horizon.  Emotions overwhelmed me when my dad slipped the monster into the landing net and brought her aboard, which to this day is a sensation that has never left me.  As I peered into the net to see the beautifully colored silvered fish I struggled to pull the biggest fish I had ever caught into my tired arms while my dad hugged my last panting breath out of me from shared excitement.  My first encounter with this elusive snook was one which will enrich my life forever.

A day I will never forget.  My 1st snook!
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