Leave It All Behind

by Chasten Whitfield

I had just fished up filming with PENN Reels two days before a scheduled fishing excursion with my client Drake.  I needed to spend some time calculating some spots based on an updated weather forecast, tides, and figure out where I would take him fishing. Set our alarm for 5am the next morning and headed out to the Skyway Bridge, one of my favorite spots to catch some early morning bait fish.  After catching enough bait fish, we headed back to the dock to pick up Drake with a boat full of bait and ready to do some fishing.

As soon as we pulled up to the dock, we rolled Drake’s wheels right up to the edge of the dock and he got out of his wheelchair, climbed into the boat and said “okay, I’m ready let’s go”!  I was so surprised that he did that by himself and how excited he was to go fishing. I love that he left his wheelchair behind to go fish!  While we were headed to the first spot, I was able to spend some time talking with Drake and he had mentioned that he had only caught a catfish before and I told him we were going to change that today.  We arrived at our first fishing spot and threw some white bait out, up underneath the mangroves. It was a super-hot day, as it typically is this time of the year, so I figured there would be fish underneath the mangroves avoiding the direct sunlight and trying to stay cool. Then BAM! We could hear and see some snook start busting on the white bait. We cast some more white bait up under the mangroves and wham, we hook up on a snook. Watching Drake fighting that fish was an amazing sight to watch.  It was one after another after another – we hit the jackpot in this spot! We moved to a few more fishing spots that we had mapped and it seemed the snook just followed him. The self-esteem Drake seemed to gain by catching these fish was so amazing to see. Then, as the typical summer weather pattern took over, we were dodging so many small rain clouds. Drake was able to catch a 12” snook. Drake mentioned his favorite part was fishing for and catching the snook – my favorite part is he left the wheelchair behind to go fishing! Please go to his YouTube video and watch Drake enjoy his day of fishing!! You can watch some of our day at the following link – https://youtu.be/YKBOGf_zv5w

Chasten’s mission is to help kids of all ages, especially girls, become comfortable anglers while teaching positive life skills, thoughtfulness, doing what’s right for the right reasons, and choosing to stay active outdoors. It’s not about what you look like or outside appearance, what matters is what’s inside.
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