Woman on a mission: Whitstine working to be a boat captain

Sammie Whitstine shows off a mahi mahi she caught off the pier.

On Monday Sammie Whitstine was able to scratch another item off her “bucket list.”

Whitstine, 43, now has her boat captains license and hopes to run a charter boat out of Destin soon.

“It’s over and I’m excited,” said the grandmother of three who lives in Fort Walton Beach.

Whitstine passed the captain's test on Monday in Panama City after attending a six-day Sea School in Destin.

“You go through a lot,” she said, noting she had to put in many hours studying.

Whitstine said they learned to do chart plotting, in case the electronics go out on the boat.

“We also learned about tides … basically what I was learning were the rules on the water,” Whitstine said.

But in order to even qualify for Sea School, you have to have time on the water.

And time on the water she has.

Last year she worked aboard the party boat Swoop with Capt. Matt Wheeler.

However, that wasn’t her first time on the water.

“I was a girl raised fishing on a 5-gallon bucket catching bream,” said Whitstine who is from Alexandria, La.

She later followed her dream of fishing on a professional level. Whitstine fished professionally for 11 years, five of those on ESPN Women's Bassmaster Tour.

After moving here in 1996 she fell in love with Gulf fishing.

“It’s amazing … just coming in and out of Destin is awesome. It’s fish for the soul.”

The next chapter in her story is to put her new license to work.

“I just want to get out there on the water and fish. Every time you go out you learn something new,” she said.

Although she likes catching all fish, she loves hooking up with king mackerel, cobia and amberjack, because of the fight they put up.

But her mission is to be a captain and run charters.

“Not because I am a woman, but because I have a passion for fishing and being on the water and I have always challenged myself to be the best at anything I do,” she said in an email.

“Each of us has a bucket list, it’s up to you to follow your dreams, grab a pen and get to scratching them off … doesn’t matter your age, your gender or otherwise. It’s about what makes you happy.”