BlogJanuary 2019

Florida Family Fishing Trip Highlights with "Top Mom" Sweepstakes Winner

Florida Family Fishing Trip Highlights with "Top Mom" Sweepstakes Winner

By Debbie Hanson

Jan 25, 2019

Learn which fish species our Top Mom Sweepstakes winning family caught, which new fishing skills they learned while on a saltwater fishing adventure in Florida

One of the best things about fishing is being able to share your experiences on the water with others. There is just something about the thrill of a catch that unites and connects us in a special way. This fact was reinforced when I had the pleasure of joining "Top Mom" Sweepstakes winner Simone Traverse and her family as they explored the waters of Estero Bay in Southwest Florida with Captain Alex Dolinski.

The Take Me Fishing sweepstakes prize trip took place out of Fort Myers Beach during the first week of January. We had warm weather, sunny skies, and an outdoors-loving family of four from Texas who were ready to kick off a brand new year on the water.


Watching the Traverse family as they embraced an array of saltwater firsts was the perfect reminder of how fishing brings people together. If you remember your very first fishing experiences, I have a feeling that you'll want to read about the memories that Simone, Garrett, Max (age 10), and Mati (age 6) made while wetting a line Florida.

  • Max and Mati learned about the benefits of circle hooks as well as proper fish handling for catch and release. Since shrimp was the saltwater bait of choice, both kids became enamored with the crustaceans as they circulated around the livewell. Two of these shrimp even received the high honor of being uniquely identified and referred to as Mike and Sarah.
  • Mati started making waves early in the trip by catching her first saltwater fish, which was an exceptionally acrobatic ladyfish. She clearly had previous fish handling experience because she proudly displayed her catch with a firm grip, wide smile, and little assistance.
  • About halfway through the morning, a jumbo crevalle jack grabbed Max's line and proceeded take a long, hard run straight into the mangroves. After a bit of coaching from Captain Alex, Max brought his huge jack to the boat. This was undoubtedly one of the most exciting moments of the day!
  • The final fish of the Traverse family trip was a redfish (red drum) that Max caught close to an oyster bar. After the fish was brought aboard, both he and Mati quickly measured the catch before it was released. Max was particularly mindful of making sure that the fish was handled with the utmost care. It was fantastic to witness the next generation taking on a conservation mindset.
  • Both Max and Mati had an opportunity to get behind the helm while under the watchful eye of Captain Alex.

As the 21-foot boat headed back toward the marina, Simone mentioned that the family enjoys bass fishing on local lakes and ponds near their home in Round Rock, Texas. The only thing that prevents them from fishing together more often is finding the time with busy school and work schedules, so they truly appreciated this opportunity to make new fishing memories without distractions.


Don’t forget, you can always find a convenient family fishing spot near you by using the places to boat and fish map. Tight lines and happy fishing everyone!

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.