Swordfish Snacking was a challenging and rewarding painting for me. I grew up on the ocean, mostly surfing and snorkeling, and even though I had fished several times, I wouldn't have considered myself someone who fished. After we bought our own boat 2 years ago, now with two young boys who we wanted to share the ocean with, my husband and I took up fishing. Diving would have been too much time in the same place, while waiting for mommy or daddy to come back up, and though I can't wait to eventually surf with them, they're really not quite ready for that.
So, the last two years have been youtubing, learning from friends, watching Local Knowledge, and experiencing it for ourselves as often as possible. Many people have commented on the change in subject with my artwork to more fishing related material, but like most artists, I paint what is going on in my life- and right now that is fishing! (The bird phase seemed to happen because I was so big and pregnant, mostly driving for friends while they dove, or just planting myself in a bean bag on the boat watching birds).
My husband and I don't yet have a ton of experience with Sword fishing, I don't have any if I'm being totally honest, but I do have some connections! Meet Tanner Strohmenger.
I met Tanner and his wife, Maddie at an art show in Deerfield once, and they had purchased one of my Deerfield orignal paintings through instagram in the past. I always liked the name Tanner, and saw that he was an ocean-lover and all around waterman, so we actually named our second son after him (and one of our favorite Lantana lifeguards is also named Tanner). It might have been a little creepy for them since we really didn't know each other well, but I always feel connected to other people who have a passion for the ocean. As I met more of their extended family at other art festivals, I was even happier with our decision, because they are some of the nicest locals you will ever meet.
I knew that if I asked Tanner about his swordfishing experiences, he would be more than willing to share the knowledge, and help make this painting as authentic as it could be. Hillsboro Inlet is a historic area for swordfishing and just so happens to be Tanner's stomping ground. Below I share part of our interview and a couple pictures of Tanner in action.
First, before we get started, I do want to address a question that I myself get asked often (especially with some of these bloodier fishing photos): If I am an ocean conservationists, why am I so into killing fish?
The answer is... I LOVE the ocean and all creatures, and I think that people who are on the water often can agree with me in saying that the more time you spend out there, the more time you want to. Everyone feels the need to protect what they love, and people who fish, spearfish, surf, boating, dive, kayak paddle board... those are the people with a lot of love and respect for the ocean that continues to grow. Florida Fish and Wildlife works hard creating regulations that protect our local fisheries and as long as you are well-versed and obey those laws, I don't believe it's wrong.
This is, however, a personal decision. For those of you that are vegetarian or vegan to protect all creatures, I respect and admire YOUR decision too. I don't think that trying to convince others not to fish will help our conservation cause, though. People who fish, bring dinner home to their families, and don't want plastic, pollution, or illegal fishing practices to mess with their source of fun and food. To make a difference, we can actively hold each other accountable to pick up the trash we find on the water, instead of contributing to it, and remind each other never to get greedy, regardless of how great the log you drive up to might be... Always obey fishing regulations, and inspire others to do the same. People who are out there the most can have the greatest impact and influence... Let's continue to ask ourselves, "How can I make a difference today?"
Tanner, what is different about Sword fishing than other fishing?
The bigger game and everything that comes with that. Heavier tackle, more ocean, less opportunities, which puts more stress on bite.
Describe how you feel when you know you have one hooked.
Excitement. They really gets the heart going. I've had big ones fight like small ones, and small ones fight like big fish. You may have an idea of what is going on at the other end of that line, but they seem to always have a few surprises.
If you could give others a word of advice before fishing for swordfish, or something important that you've learned about it? It can be specific to fishing or about life in general that fishing has taught you.
One word of advice is fish your own way, and don't worry about what everyone else is catching. It seems like it's one big contest every time you go out now with nearly everyone in your region on social media. I could come in on a great day or a skunk and there's always at least one guy that's like, "oh yeah, but did you see what so and so caught in the keys, or west palm or wherever?" Just enjoy your time out there, even if you don't catch anything, you still probably learned something that day.
Thanks so much for all your help to inspire this painting!
I love that last part in his interview, because it seems that way with everything now. Even as an artist, I feel the need to compete with other artists. When we turn that urge off, and think collaboration instead of competition, we can make each other better. Share the local knowledge for fishing, and we could all be more aware, more invested, and more encouraged to conserve our playground!