Living

Florida's first family of fishing starts young

To call the Shevlins a fishing family is like calling Shaquille O'Neal a basketball player. Attorney Barry Shevlin and sons Josh, 12, and Jake, 8, go fishing every chance they get - either on the family's Jupiter 31 sportfisher, from their backyard dock or with a South Florida guide.

"I've been fishing since I was 3 years old," Barry said. "Josh started fishing when he could walk. Jake started pretty much right after that."

Josh, who caught his first bonefish at age 4, and Jake are the reigning IGFA junior and pee wee world champions. Josh also won the title in 2005. Both have won master angler honors in the Metropolitan South Florida Fishing Tournament. Barry won MET men's resident master angler honors two years ago.

What's the appeal?

"Fighting them till they get in the boat," Jake answered. "Catching bait and baiting the hooks."

He said one of his hobbies is collecting the eyeballs from dolphin fish he catches and cleans.

Josh says his favorite catch was a sailfish. For Jake, it was a shark. Josh would like to try to catch a swordfish at night, but his mom says he must hold off until he gets older.

On a recent outing off Miami Beach with captain Bouncer Smith and mate John Herndon, the boys caught and released a jack, a barracuda and a couple of lifter-sized dolphin. They released two smaller dolphin, one of which Smith tagged as part of the South Carolina-based cooperative tagging research project.

Smith found the dolphin at the tail end of a weedline in 1,145 feet of water. They ate six-inch Williamson trolling lures.

"Dolphin for dinner, guys!" Barry said happily.

The crew set out to hunt for some more fish, but a large thunderstorm threatened from the south, and Barry decided the safest course would be to beat it back to Miami Beach Marina. Josh wanted to stay; he didn't care if he got wet.

Ultimately, Dad prevailed. There would be plenty more fishing opportunities to come.

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