One can’t think of the Gulf Coast without thinking about seafood, and the thousands of full time and seasonal workers that keep the seafood industry wheels turning in order to bring the freshest catch to our plates.
With Gulf Coast seafood a tradition that stretches back farther than our own country, it is no wonder that Curt Gwin was raised to appreciate the salt life as he grew up in Destin near the waters edge, enjoying recreational fishing with his family.
With parents that both hailed from Mississippi farming families, it was his father, an Ole Miss grad, who decided to make the move to Destin in the early 1980’s to pursue real estate development. Curt worked for him in high school, and during college planning to follow in his father’s footsteps until the market crashed in 2007.
Deciding to follow his next passion, Curt made fishing his career choice, saying, “It is very different than being a weekend warrior. There was so much to learn, but our fishing community is strong, and really helped me out.”
Most in the commercial and charter industry work on other fishing boats before owning their own, but Curt took another path working freelance on private boats until he was able to purchase his first center console. After building a regular clientele, he purchased his third boat, a 34-foot Hatteras that he fully restored in 2010 named Only Way. Curt says, “ All three boats have been called Only Way. My father and I named the boat based on our Christian religious beliefs.”
Capt. Curt specializes in all types of saltwater sport fishing excursions catching Snapper, Grouper, Wahoo, Tuna, Amberjack and others, stating, “If it is in the Gulf, I will catch it!” Charter trips range from 4 hours to overnight, and can be customized based on the guest’s desires with pricing reflective of this. The Only Way holds up to six passengers and has air conditioning and bathroom facilities, along with a flat screen television and an eight-passenger life raft. Post trip, Curt and his mate Zach Wolfe will clean, bag and ice your catch at no additional coast. Curt says, “ We provide everything but food and drink, including reels, bait, tackle, lifejackets and a temporary fishing license.” Make sure to bring along a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen, and a tip for the crew, an appreciated gesture, but do avoid glass bottles and black-soled shoes.
In 2013 the Only Way was voted Best Charter Boat by the readers of Destin Magazine, and was the victor of the Cobia World Championships held at Harbor Docks. Captain Curt says, “We get in the tower and site fish along the beach. The Emerald Coast is the only place you can do this in the world! The average Cobia is about 40 pounds and they grow well over 120 pounds!”
Curt focuses on commercial fishing for Harbor Docks Seafood Market from November through May, and says, “Eddie Morgan (General Manger) is a good friend that I have known since I was a little kid, and Harbor Docks restaurant is my go-to place to eat. Everyone says I might as well work there as much as I eat there. I really like the atmosphere, and just wouldn’t sell to any one else. They really help their fishermen out, offer the best selection of seafood, and are the best people!”
After being out on the water for three and sometimes four days, Curt appreciates being able to unload on the dock with the fish going straight to Harbor Docks Seafood Market. Market workers then head, sort, pick, peel, shuck, grade and pack the seafood to sell and ship to restaurants nation wide. Those claiming to serve authentic, fresh, local Gulf seafood, often buy directly from Harbor Docks Seafood Market. Owner Charles Morgan says, “Over 90 percent of the seafood sold in the state of Florida last year was imported, and 59 percent of seafood sold nationwide was mislabeled! Learn about the seafood you are eating.”
Curt and wife Blair live in Destin with their three-year-old son and are expecting another son this spring. The Only Way is located at 210 Highway 98 East at the Destin Fishing Fleet Marina. They can be reached by phone at (850) 582- 4384, or visit their website www.gofishdestin.com for more information. Learn about Gulf Coast seafood and the restaurants that carry it by visiting www.harbordocks.com.
Susan Benton is the owner of 30AEATS.com and partner of GulfCoastRestaurants.com where she shares her passion for food and travel, and her commitment to promoting local farmers, fisherman, chefs, artisans and the best restaurants along the Gulf Coast.
Get to know your seafood and Click on the Vimeo video below!
Harbor Docks kicked off the Cobia World Championship March 22, 2014, ending May 5, 2014 benefitting “The 20th AnnualTake A Kid Fishing Day.” The Crab Cruncher at Harbor Docks begins with a Captains Meeting this Thursday, April 10 and a BBQ sponsored by Back Forty Beer Company . Weigh-ins are at 4 pm Friday with low country boil by Nick’s Seafood, Saturday with Fajita Buffet by La Paz, ending Sunday with Prime Rib and Cobia Fish Fry on the docks sponsored by Harbor Docks. For More information, click this link.
Hear stories from local fisherman about The World Cobia Championship by clicking the video below.
Photos & Video: Harbor Docks