All of my fishing was in Florida. We caught fish to take home for meals, fishing from the beach, a dock, or a small boat. The very first time I went fishing, we stayed on the beach and cast out into Choctawhatchee Bay. It took a little while for something to take my bait. When it did, it fought pretty hard, and I had to work to get it to shore. When I finally landed it, I was really excited and started walking toward it.
Suddenly my father yelled out, "Don't touch it!" I turned to him to ask what was wrong and then looked back toward my catch — which was now gone! It had bitten through the line and taken it back into the water with itself.
And that's when my father told me that what I had caught for my very first fish was a moray eel. So much for eating that for dinner!
Since I barely got to see the eel before it retreated back into the bay, I don't know what type of moray it was. There seem to be at least three that are found in the Gulf of Mexico off the northwest coast of Florida — blacktail, chain, and reticulate. I found this photo of a reticulate moray which was caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe that's the type I landed that day.
|"Juvenile reticulate moray (Muraena retifera). Gulf of Mexico."*|
*Fish4333. Credit: SEFSC Pascagoula Laboratory, Collection of Brandi Noble, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Image available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/noaaphotolib/5187500247.