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I'm a Florida Sportsman.

I am a Florida Sportsman; I am forever a prisoner of the salty air and emerald green waters near the beaches of the Gulf Coast. Some of my earliest memories are of fishing with my family, either offshore catching grouper or along the beaches, passes and beautiful turtle grassflats fishing for snook and redfish. Some of my fondest memories are of the summer trips my family would take to the keys. Setting a spread of six and trolling a weedline off the coast of Marathon for dolphin and sails-those were the good old day.

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You see, I am second generation Floridian. My father was born in Hialeah and my mother was born in Niceville. As for me, I was born and raised in Clearwater. I honestly don't think a weekend would go by without me participating in some sort of fishing--whether it was my two brothers and I riding our bikes loaded down with rods and castnets headed to Alan's Creek, or holding on to the T-top looking back at the sun rising over the condo-laden beaches of Pinellas County as we headed out to the grouper grounds. I will never forget that feeling of excitement and anticipation of what I was going to catch that day. But my decision to join the Air Force in 1995 would take me away form my passion for the next 15 years.

My career in the Air Force would take me places some have never heard of. I had the chance to fish remote waters, but none satisfied the craving I had for home. Once or twice a year, I returned to Florida to get my fix. But it was never enough. Not a day would go by that I didn't want to be on the water of my hometown doing what I loved to do. As luck would have it, I was transferred to Eglin AFB in 2010. Just down the street from where my mother was born.

For the last couple of years I have been fortunate to launch my boat in the gorgeous waters between the East Pass in Destin and Pensacola Pass. It is now my turn to pass along to my two beautiful girls what my mother and father taught me as a child. I can only hope my girls experience the same excitement and anticipation that I still get to this day. Thank you Mom and Dad!

Master Sergeant Bryan McLaughlin, Age 39

Occupation: Tactical Aircraft Maintenance Specialist

Hometown: Navarre, FL

FS Reader for "most of my life"

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Author:McLaughlin, Bryan
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Dec 1, 2012
Words:423
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