It isn’t every day that you get to fish with a country singing sensation, and when that day comes along, you sure hope the fish are biting.
In the case of Capt. J. B. Layne, it got about as good as it gets.
Layne, along with Florida Seafood Festival President John Solomon, had a chance Nov. 4 to go out fishing with Lee Brice and members of his band. After a fantastic concert Saturday night to close out the 49th annual festival, Brice and his boys were ready for the fishing adventure.
Brice’s tour manager had called Layne late Saturday night to arrange the trip. “All we want to catch is redfish,” he told Layne.
“I can take them where they’re at,” Layne told him. “It’s your job to reel them in.”
Leaving out of Ten Foot Hole about 11:30 a.m. the following Sunday morning, Brice brought along a high school buddy, his personal trainer, drummer and lead guitarist. Layne found them a spot over near Dry Bar, and the boys went to work, reeling out with 10-pound test line to prove their mettle against the fierce fighter.
“Everyone was real knowledgeable, but they grew up mostly on bass fishing,” said Layne. “This was the first redfish any of them ever caught.”
And caught they did, each of them snaring at least one, and some of them two, for more than a dozen on the day, most all of them deemed oversized and thrown back.
“Every one of them was over 27 inches except three of them,” said Layne. Size limits call for not less than 18 inches and no more than 27 inches total length.
The biggest one of the day, 38 inches long and 22 pounds with the Boga grips, was caught by lead guitarist Travis Bettis. Layne coached him how to let out the line, and then get the fish to turn his head as he heads to the bottom. The charter captain had Solomon hoist the anchor to ensure against losing the bull red, and they didn’t, finally landing him after Bettis proved as able with the rod as he is with his guitar.
Layne said the fishing trip was a wholesome affair, with Brice’s personal trainer nixing the alcohol and having them drink coconut water instead.
“(Brice) is really big into football, he monitors it 24-7. Every 30 minutes or less he has to check his phone and the scores,” said Layne of the former Clemson football player, who he said made the large-framed Layne look tiny.
“It was a blast, they’re just regular guys, down to earth,” said Layne. “Every one of them caught one, and that was the best part.”
With three keeper reds in tow, Layne dropped them back off at Sikes Cut, near where the band was staying in the Plantation at a unit provided by Resort Vacation Properties.
Layne beached the boat and then cleaned them right there, asking only that Brice autograph his shirt and hat. The singing star was more than happy to oblige.
“It’s the least I can do for you,” he told Layne.
“They were real nice people,” Layne said. “Everyone was super nice.”