OUTDOORS

Buy a boat: "Why Wouldn't We?"

TINA HARBUCK
Joe Griffin is captain of this 42-foot Bertram docked at East Pass Marina. He tagged the boat "Why Wouldn't We?" noting that every bad decision he's made in life started with that statement, "Why Wouldn't We?"

There's nothing like getting paid to do something you love to do.

"When I found out they pay you to fish … that was pretty much it for me," said Capt. Joe Griffin, who now has his own boat "Why Wouldn't We?” a 42-feet Bertram, docked at East Pass Marina along Destin harbor.

"I've always been crazy about fishing," said the 38-year-old captain.

Griffin grew up in Wyoming and then joined the Navy. "It was all coal miners and cowboys and I didn't want to be either, so I joined the Navy and left."

After getting out of the Navy in 1998 he made the move from Jacksonville, where he had been stationed, to Destin.

"My mom was here and it was a place to stay until I figured it out, what I was going to do next. I didn't come here to fish, it just kind of happened," he said.

He started out as a bartender aboard one of Moody's party boats, but then decided he wanted to be on the deck fishing instead.

"I wanted to catch fish," Griffin said.

After about a month on Moody's boat, he went to work for Cliff Atwell on the Princess as a deckhand.

"We had a lot of fun on the Princess. We had a great time. You've got three deckhands and Clifford up there and we all got along. It was all of us against the world."

Griffin worked on the Princess for a year and a half, and then worked with Capt. Eric Thrasher for a while. He also worked aboard the Phoenix with Capt. Scott Robson and the No Alibi and Fifth Amendment with Capt. Chuck Turbanic. Griffin also fished with Capt. Gary Jarvis on the Backdown 2.

"I've done a lot of commercial fishing and tuna fishing with Gary," he said.

After fishing with Jarvis for a couple of years, he got a job on a private boat that was going down to Venezuela.

"I liked Venezuela because it was nothing to get four or five blues in a day. There were a couple of days when we would get a double grand slam."

Griffin says he hasn't caught a lot of really big fish; however he played a part in reeling in a 600-pound shark along with several 150- to 200-pound tuna, plus a 170-pound swordfish.

In 2007 he got his captains license and spent some time in the oil fields driving utility boats.

"I liked the challenge of holding up while they were back loading it," he said. "It was great money, but you've got to be out at sea eight months out of the year to get that money."

Earlier this year he decided to make the move and get his own boat.

"I kind of never saw myself doing this … then one day I realized I was still doing this (fishing)."

So he asked himself the question, " 'Do you want to work for somebody else your whole life or do you want to do your own thing?'

"I felt like it's never going to be the right time. But I just did it and here we are."

He bought the boat in January and brought it up through the Gulf from New Port Richey.

"It was absolutely in shambles when we got it," he said. "The second I bought it, it grew an exhaust leak."

Griffin was able to get the boat in ship and shape and has been fishing hard.

"We specialize in four to six hour family trips," he said noting plans for longer trips in the future

"I love it. It was extremely stressful at first," he said sitting in the captain's chair for the first time. "I didn't know where I was going to go and what I was going to do … didn't know if I could hold the boat up. The first time it was sink or swim."

Now after a couple of months at the helm, Griffin says he likes the challenge of finding fish.

"I like that first bite, when you know the fish should be there and you get a bite and you pull the first one over the rail. There's just a sense of relief. I found them. It's going to be OK. It's going to be a good day," he said.

Griffin says he tries to keep the mindset of a kid and what it was like to catch that  first triggerfish or white snapper, or something new coming over the rail.

Fishing every day, "you get used to seeing those fish come over the rail that you forget what that was like. You don't want to forget that. If you do, then you should probably find something else to do."