Christina - Fishing for Dinner

Thank you for viewing my presentation. Here's what I would like to know from you: Do you have any favorite local seafood recipes or favorite fishing spots? 

To respond to my prompt and to submit any additional comments, questions or personal accounts related to my speech topic, please post in my discussion forum on the “
Oil Spill Anniversary Conference” Facebook page. If you do not have a Facebook account, please e-mail me at instead from your personal e-mail account. Please put my name in the e-mail title, so I’m sure to receive your message.

I’m looking forward to communicating with you at that time. Thank you!

- Christina

Informative Speech Professor Approval Draft, 4/4/11



1.   Christina Hamilton-Harvell

2.   Fishing for Dinner: the effect of the BP oil spill on the local fishing community

3.   To inform

4.   As a result of my presentation, my audience will be able to describe who local fishermen are and the impact the BP oil spill in the gulf has had on their families.


 Lets grab our tackle boxes, poles and bait and head out to the three mile fishing pier. Don’t forget your chair if you plan on sitting and a cooler with some drinks and a bag to put the fish in. Lets cast our lines and sit back and enjoy the cool breeze and smell of the ocean. Hi, my name is Christina Harvell and I will be talking to you about the effects of the oil spill on our local fishing citizens. No I am not talking about the commercial fishermen you hear so much about but about those you see lined up on the pier as you travel over the three mile bridge. The local fishermen I want to talk to you about will not be catching fish to sell to the local fish market they will be catching fish to take home and feed their families.  These are the fishermen who stand out there fishing for hours some just to be able to take home dinner to their families. Others are out there because they love the thrill and relaxation of fishing and eating some yummy local seafood. To better understand who I am talking about let’s get to know some of these local fishermen and hear some of their “Big Fish Stories” and how the big one always gets away. How do you prepare for a trip to the three mile fishing pier? Who will you meet out on the pier and what brings people to fish here? Are these waters really safe to fish in and what will the long term effects be on the fishing community from the oil spill? BP oil spill and the heartbreak some experienced.


I.  How to prepare for your fishing trip to the three mile bridge

            When fishing on the three mile bridge you have to be prepared. So we are going to look at some things you might want to bring with you. Don’t worry if you forget something there is a small bait shop as you enter the pier and they normally carry what you might have forgot. But most of the time the people around you are more than willing to help you out. This is one of the great things about fishing on the pier you meet a lot of friendly people. So make sure you grab a chair if you plan on staying for any length of time and if you are planning on catching something be prepared to stay at least a couple of hours. Grab a pole, this can be any pole just as long as you have the right tackle and equipment on it. I use a Shakespeare open reel pole with 10 pound test line. If you are planning on fishing at the very end of the pier you will need a heavy duty pole and strong line along with bigger hooks and weights. For my favorite spot 10 pound test with 5 pound weights and a circle hook work just fine. We now have our pole and chair, lets not forget our tackle box which should have a pair of needle nose pliers, a towel, more weights and hooks. This is also where I keep my bait because I don’t use live or frozen bait we use gulps this is a plastic bait that looks like shrimp and other small fish. Don’t forget to grab a cooler and some ice, we use a bag in our cooler to keep our soda’s from smelling like fish you just put the fish down in the bag and they stay fresh and your drinks don’t have a fishy smell. One thing most people don’t think about bringing is toilet paper. There are port-a-potties all along the bridge but most don’t have any toilet paper so make sure you bring your own. We are now ready to get started so lets go and meet some of the locals who fish this pier.

II. Who Are Local Fishermen

            Local fishermen are the ones who don’t fish for money they fish because they love it. They love to smell the ocean and the bait and to sit and wait for the bite. Chris Hamilton says that it’s, “the trill of not really knowing what is on the other end of your line when you get a bite.” The anticipation builds up as you wait to see what you are bringing in on your line. Will this one be something to throw back or a keeper?  We have a saying when we fish “Is it a sandwich or a meal? That’s how we size up our fish. This isn’t how every fishermen does it of course just the few I fish with. See my family and I fish on the three mile bridge on a regular basis this is our favorite thing to do, our favorite spot to fish is about half way down the bridge closer to the shore around the second port-a-potty. This is where you catch a lot of trout and Crocker fish along with some throw backs which include ribbon fish, eels, and catfish. This is only naming a few of the fish that we catch on a regular basis and if you go to the other end of the pier with a bigger pole and larger weights you can catch a red snapper or a sheep head. If you are feeling pretty lucky and you have a great throwing hand you can try to catch some mullet which run along the pier most of the time. According to the website Gulf Coast Fishing Forum and Pensacola Fishing Forum there are reports that sheep head and trout are biting once again. These websites also are great for fishermen who like to tell fishing stories. My brother has posted many pictures along with anyone else that have caught fish in the local area. This is the bragging board. This is also where a lot of fishermen get to tell the story of the one that got away. I have had this happen a few too many times. I remember once I was fishing on the pier and my pole folded over and I just knew I had a big one on my line but as I pulled it in my line snapped, of course this is my kind of luck because in all my years of fishing I have never caught a thing that I actually brought home. Every time I catch one it always gets away. Fishing on the pier cost only five dollars for a car and driver and two dollars for every other person over the age of sixteen. This is a very cheap outing for many families and with the economy being as it is right now due to the oil spill many families are finding things to do with their family that doesn’t cost much. My family and I have made many friends on the three mile bridge.


III. Fishing for dinner

Keith Jones fishes the pier at least three nights a week. See Keith is a member of a large family there are 9 total mouths to feed in his house and he fishes for the family to help out with the food bill. Fishing the pier saves him approximately $70.00 per month with a family this size that’s a huge savings. He has fished this pier for many years and even after the oil spill you could drive by and see him standing there with his pole in the water. Let’s look at some others who fish for dinner.

Sam Southard and his family fish the three mile bridge along with numerous other spaces around Pensacola. His family loves to eat fresh fish and after a good night fishing he will fire up the fish cooker and invite many friends and family over to eat. This often includes his 3 children and numerous others in the family.

Fishing for dinner is a very popular reason for many who fish along the three mile bridge fishing pier. These people aren’t fishing to sell the fish to anyone they are fishing to feed their friends and family. Unlike commercial fishermen who fish to sell their seafood to the local fish markets these fishermen fish because they don’t want to go to these local fish markets and spend their hard earned money on fish someone else caught. Imagine the feeling to be able to go out and catch the very fish you are eating. This way you know exactly where the fish came from. A lot of seafood markets advertise that they have “local” seafood but if you didn’t see them catch it do you really know how local it really is? This is why I love to be able to say I’m a local fishermen and I know where the seafood my family eats comes from.

But see the gulf oil spill took this away from us we still don’t know for sure how safe the seafood is in the gulf. According to the Federal Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute the fish are tested by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). (Allen, 2011 Retrieved Feburary 22, 2011, from According to the Federal Fishing and Wildlife Community  there are five facts that let us know that the seafood from the open waters are safe.

            Fact 1: Every seafood sample from reopened waters has passed testing.

Fact 2: When waters were impacted by oil or at risk of being impacted by oil, they

were closed to fishermen.

            Fact 3: Areas considered for reopening must be free of oil before testing even


            Fact 4: Dispersants were not applied in areas that are opened for fishing, and tests

of reopened waters do not show the presence of any dispersants.

            Fact 5: FDA and NOAA test samples for oil and dispersants, are every sample

from reopened waters has passed those tests. (Schulman, 2010 )

            According to the Department of Health and Human Services the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is responsible for being continually vigilant for re-oiling, and should re-oiling occur, appropriate steps, including reclosure if necessary, be taken to ensure the safety of the fish in these areas. (Mark Robson, 2010) We can now safely start consuming fish again from the gulf but are we sure that they are all safe? The Department of Health and Human Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation say the seafood is safe and I have to trust them but I think my family will wait a few more months before we begin to fish again I want to make sure I’m not bringing home fish that could hurt or harm my family or friends. I spoke to a friend about this the other day and she agreed with me. When the fish is tested they pick one from several different areas and this is what they test. But my question is what if the fish that didn’t get tested is the one that is diseased? What if this is the fish I catch? How do I know that my family will be safe if they eat this?


(20) I am going to let you go and enjoy fishing just keep in mind that you are the local fishermen and fishing for dinner could save you some money. The FWC says the fish are safe and the waters are open. Just remember BP doesn’t care that we couldn’t fish or even that we maybe had to find other ways to feed our families. The local fishermen in Pensacola didn’t get a big I’m sorry check they had to give up for months something they enjoyed and BP didn’t even know it. But we are back and going out to catch the fish again so I hope to see you on the pier. If you come out and we are there stop and say “hello.” I might even share with you some of my fishing tips.



Allen, R. (2011, Feburary 22). Retrieved Feburary 22, 2011, from


Mark Robson, D. D. (2010, August 13). Public Health Statement. Tallahassee, FL: Department of            Health and Human Services.


Schulman, K. (2010, August 13). Seafood from Open Fulf Waters Is Safe to Eat. Retrieved


Feburary 22, 2011, from


Jones, K. Personal communication. February 3, 2011


Hamilton, C. Personal communication. March 12, 2011


Southard, S. Personal communication. March 31, 2011


Handout: Fishing Recipes


2-3 fresh fish

3 pounds of shrimp

10-12 crabs

gumbo file

crab meat

Oysters (we use the ones in a can)

Zataran’s gumbo base

gumbo vegetables found in your local freezer section.

First you make a roux, then add your ingredients and let simmer all day long, serve this up with some white rice and saltine crackers and you will surely be loved by all that eat it. If you want some more spice add some crab boil or even Tabasco sauce.


To make fish a secret I have learned from fishing friends is to slice an onion and fry the onions with the fish to keep your oil from burning.


One of my local fishing buddies gave me their recipe for homemade buttermilk hushpuppies, they are really simple and when served fresh taste oooh soo yummy! Simply mix together 2 cups cornmeal

¾ cups of self rising flour

2 eggs

2 cups of buttermilk

Onions (if you want them)

Mix this well and let sit for about 20 minutes. Then drop into hot grease by the spoonful. Keep turned and they are done when they are golden brown and floating in the grease.

Nothing better with fried fish then some cheese grits and hushpuppies.