“I like the 36-hour trips. You get out there by those oil rigs and you feel about that little,” he said motioning with his hands. “It humbles you. And a tuna will whoop a customer's butt.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final story in the Manning the Deck series, where The Destin Log has been looking at some of the men that help ensure that folks fishing aboard the boats have a good time while hopefully pulling something over the rail.

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From a weed eater to a rod and reel, Jordan Colson now has a grip on what he wants to do – fish.

Looking at the 6-foot-6 young man who works the back deck of the Twilight with Capt. Robert Hill, basketball does come to mind.

And for the 26-year-old Colson, he does love basketball and it was basketball that opened the door for him to fish.

While playing pickup game at the Methodist Center in Point Washington he ran across a couple of guys, Christian Holden and Billy Lorren, who were deckhands aboard the party boat Destin Princess.

Colson hopped aboard, fishing for fun and helping out where he could.

“They liked me coming because I would clean the boat on the way in, and when we got back to the dock, I’d do all the grunt work … because I was just happy to go fishing,” Colson said.

When Billy moved on to another boat, Capt. Reid Phillips of the Princess offered Colson a job as a deckhand.

Colson, who was working with his dad in the landscaping business, jumped at the chance. But at the time the Princess was headed to dry dock.

“So I went from holding a weed eater with my dad to holding a sander,” Colson said.

At that point he wondered what he had gotten himself into.

“We sanded on that boat for almost three months before I ever got to fish,” he said.

But when asked if it was worth it, he replied with an ecstatic “Oh yes!”

After a couple of years on the party boat, Colson went to work on a six-pack boat, Backlash, with Capt. Chris Kirby where he fished for 2 ½ years before making the move to the Twilight.

“The party boat is kind of where I learned to deal with people, knots and tangles,” he said.

And when he made the move to a charter boat everything changed.

“Everything was at a different level,” he said. “Over there (on a party boat), all you had to do was have your two-hook rigs ready and cut bait every day.”

On the charter boat he gets to use live bait, while the party boat is all about squid with a bit of Boston mackerel mixed in.

“As far as running slip led, live baits and mackerel fishing … it just opened up a whole new world for me,” Colson said. “I really thought I loved fishing and then I started using live baits. … You can catch some cool stuff using live baits.”

Colson said Kirby was an awesome teacher.

But then he made another move, this time to the Twilight, a 52-footer.

“I had been pestering (Robert Hill) since I started on the Destin Princess,” Colson said. “He’s the best and I want to work for the best.”

Colson started aboard the Twilight last October, during the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Since that time, he has learned how to tuna fish, sword fish and grouper fish.

“I’ve caught grouper in the past, but I had never been grouper fishing,” Colson said, noting Hill knows how to target them. “He’ll tell you exactly what to do and if you do what he says, you’ll catch them. And if you don’t, you won't.”

Colson loves working with Hill.

“If I could draw up a boss, it would be Robert Hill. He’s low key and doesn’t yell,” he said.

The two of them have had a busy season.

From May to the end of July the two hardly ever run anything shorter than a 12-hour trip.

“It’s never a six-hour and go home,” Colson said, noting most of his days start at 4:30 a.m. and end about 9 at night.

Colson said between March 1 and the end of April they fished about 30 trips.

“And then May 1, it’s go time. We do a lot of tuna fishing in May,” he said, noting that’s some of his favorite fishing to do.

“I like the 36-hour trips. You get out there by those oil rigs and you feel about that little,” he said motioning with his hands. “It humbles you. And a tuna will whoop a customer's butt.”

But Colson loves working with the customers or anglers.

“I’m a people person … I could talk to a rock,” Colson said. “The hardest thing and most rewarding is teaching people the right way to do stuff,” he said.

He explained that some folks come aboard with freshwater habits where they are used to setting the hook on a fish.

“I tell people the only time you need to pull that rod up is when you can’t turn that handle. If you can turn the handle there is on reason to pull that rod up and put undo pressure on that hook that’s in the fish’s mouth,” he said.

However, Colson admits he doesn’t have all the answers.

“I don’t have a way … it’s (Capt. Hill's) way and his way is the right way," Colson said. “And I’ve learned that if I just listen and work hard and have a good attitude and just listen to what he says, it usually all goes the way he wants it to go.”

And attitude is key.

“My number one job on the boat is keeping a good attitude,” Colson said. “The sun gets to you, the work gets to you, and everything gets to you. Some days you get bad tips and some days you don’t like your people or your people don’t like you.

“I’m not the best fisherman in the world that’s for sure, but my attitude is what got me my job right now,” he said.

The two of them on the Twilight are booked non-stop for the upcoming Destin Fishing Rodeo that starts Oct. 1.

Colson said they have 541 hours of fishing in 31 days booked.

“That’s just time on the boat … that’s not cutting bait and getting ice,” he said. “We fish the Rodeo hard. … Robert wants to win.”