BLOG: Hooking and cooking fish from the Gulf

Alyssa Raymond's Fishing in the Gulf -- 530
Alyssa goes fishing in Destin - 645

DESTIN, Fla. (WTHR) — "I've got to stop wishin', got to go fishin'."

After 20 years, I did just that in the luckiest fishing village in the world. The largest commercial fishing fleet in North America floats in Destin, too! On Saturday February 9, day 2 of Chuck's Big Adventure, I hopped onboard Starfire and went fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

We picked Captain Brandy Miles to guide us on this fishing trip. She's the same age as me, and she's the only female fishing captain in Destin's fleet. She's been fishing her entire life. She learned from her father, and now she's teaching her five children to love and respect the water. She's outstanding!

She took us about seven miles out into the Gulf. The wind was whipping and churning up the waves. I listened to Captain Brandy as she told me a little bit about herself. We weren’t out on her boat because it suffered some damage when Hurricane Michael rolled through. She’s planning on bringing it out of the water soon to get it all fixed up before the busy season (mostly June, July and August) begins. She named her boat “5th Day.” She says she picked this name because on the fifth day God created the fish in the sea and all the birds, and he told them to be plentiful. For Captain Brandy, the fish have been plentiful. She promised I would catch a fish because she’s never come back to the shore without catching one.

She delivered on that promise. I reeled in two little fish! I caught a triggerfish and a squirrelfish. The plan was for me to catch some fish and for Chuck to cook what we caught, but unfortunately because of regulations we had to throw the two fish I caught back into the water. After I hooked the second fish, we decided to head back to shore because our photographer, Steve Rhodes, and I were getting a little queasy.

The following day we went to Brotula's Seafood House & Steamer. It’s one of those Gulf to Table restaurants. This was my favorite meal in Destin! We had this joint on our itinerary because the plan was for the chefs (and Chuck) to cook whatever I caught on my fishing trip the day before. But that didn’t end up going as planned since I had to release the two fish I caught.

But good news: If you don’t bring your catch, no worries! They get fish right off the boat every morning and that’s what they cook for the day. Florida grouper is their most popular fish, but they had us try everything. Truthfully, they spoiled us and fed us like kings and queens.

They brought out this enormous platter. We had grouper and Mahi-mahi prepared three different ways, boiled shrimp, snapper, hush puppies, fried corn on the cob, brussel sprouts, grits, mashed potatoes and green beans. Everything was delicious!

That day we also took a drive to meet up with Bob and Becky Kevoian! Yes, Bob from the nationally syndicated show, Bob and Tom. Becky runs the blog June Bug Journeys now, and that’s what brought them to Destin. Chuck and I drove to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park to visit with Bob and Becky. The state park was gorgeous and peaceful. They’ve taken their Mercedes Airstream RV to 44 states so far and plan to visit four more states very soon.

On our way back to the Emerald Grande, Chuck and I stopped by the Donut Hole Café and Bakery. The place came highly recommended by our very own Rich Van Wyk. Thanks go out to Rich for giving us a recommendation that definitely did not disappoint.

And what beach trip isn't complete until you witness a gorgeous sunset? Well, we got one!

Three Things I learned About Chuck Today:

1. Chuck eats the same thing for breakfast every morning: oatmeal and two turkey sausage links.
2. It was 13 years with WTHR before Chuck went on this first work trip, which was when Sunrise went to Florida in 1998.
3. Chuck’s allergic to mushrooms.