Adventures fill your soul


Annie Goodman / The Lion's Roar

Miss Southeastern Louisiana University Chelsey Blank prepares for summer travels.

Bora Bora, The Bahamas and Mexico may be what some think of when imagining the perfect summer vacation, but not I.

My dream summer vacation is much simpler than that: an offshore fishing trip out of Islamorada, Florida.

Islamorada is comprised of six Florida Keys and is most notably known for its coral reefs and offshore fishing. My first trip there was when I was 15 years old. My family and I fished for Atlantic bluefin tuna, mahi-mahi and sailfish. The boat we ventured out on was the ‘Gonefishin V Charter Boat.’

During the fishing trip, we caught a total of 18 fish: three tuna and 15 mahi-mahi. The reason this fishing trip was so different than all of the other trips I have taken was because of the fish we caught – the mahi-mahi.

Also known as a common dolphinfish, the scales change color depending on its emotions, kind of like a mood ring. When the fish is content it is an aqua blue. When stressed, it is a dark green, and when on the verge of death, it is a golden color.

Mahi-mahi fishing differs because when the fish bites, you have to wait for other fishing poles to have a bite. Otherwise, the fish will undergo stress and warn others to escape. The fish also fights like a bull and is known to jump in and out of the water to try and break free from the line. Fish were flying into the back of the boat one after another.

The trip also differed from others because I was not looking at murky, brown Louisiana waters. The area we fished in was between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. It felt nice to fish in some waters that did not look like old chocolate milk. The waters changed between an emerald green and a dark blue. When I was not catching fish, I was staring at the pretty waters crashing against the boat. The beautiful water and fascinating fish made the 18-hour drive worthwhile.

In addition to plenty of beaches, the southern islands also offer mangrove trails, local dining, and ease of access to the not-too-far-away Key West airport.

The worst part of the trip was the long ride back – leaving paradise to come back to humid, hot and muggy Louisiana. The car ride felt more like 18 days as I came to the realization that the only clear water I would see back at home was in a swimming pool.

I had such a great time on the trip that my family and I will be returning to Islamorada this summer. The Florida Keys is where I go to disconnect from my everyday surroundings and can be an escape for anyone.