Eating your catch in a Florida restaurant

I've several times been fishing off the Florida Keys, renting a boat, complete with crew, from places such as Summerland Key or Key West. Usually it's for half a day, about 4 hours. The crew does the work, heading out to waters beyond the reef where the fish are to be found. They bait the hooks and set several rods in slots at the side of the boat so that the lines trail in the boat's wake. The customers, myself and friends, watch carefully to see if one of the rods bends over, indicating a catch. When that happens, one of us is strapped into a rear-facing chair to begin reeling in the catch. The rod's reel features a slipping clutch, so if a fish pulls sharply in an attempt to dislodge itself, more line pays out automatically.

The prime catch are sports fish, marlin and sailfish, which are released after being photographed. From the photographs fiberglass replicas are sometimes made to display as trophies. There are also eating fish, including king mackerel, which can be almost as big as a person, as well as tuna and grouper. When the boat returns to harbour, the crew fillet the fish and put the pieces into bags for the fisherman to take home. While every restaurant in the Keys serves fish, some offer "your catch" on the menu, and will cook the fish you provide in a variety of ways. I prefer mine done in cornmeal batter, hard to find in the UK, but absolutely delicious. And it’s quite a feeling to dine in the evening on a fish you personally caught earlier in the day.