How I came to this!

Born and raised in Florida and growing up on a farm my childhood was spent outdoors, blazing trails through the forest surrounding my home, to exploring and tubing down the freshwater rivers of North Florida.  Visiting relatives on the coast allowed opportunity to discover saltwater fishing and gain a curiosity for the winter swells that brought world class surf.  Being a “gen-X’er”, skateboarding, BMX riding and bodyboarding were all a part of the adventure.  My love for the outdoors continued with other hobbies.  In college I discovered photography and pursued commercial art (even played guitar in a couple bands for a while) but it’s hard to pay the bills and go to school when you’re not selling!  

In pursuit of outdoor interests I began cycling a LOT more.  Racing BMX became racing cross country mountain bikes and then some dabbling in triathlon to cross train in the off-season.  Eventually, moving to NC for a year in my 20’s, still racing occasionally but only with a recreational perspective, I spent a lot more time backpacking and climbing in the Western Carolina backcountry that just nurtured my love of the outdoors. Sadly, my time in NC came to an end and back to FL I went.  Begrudgingly in pursuit of career at this point, I wound up in retail management… miserable! 

I did still manage to make time for fishing.  This time on the flats of the Big Bend region of the Florida Gulf Coast.  Speckled trout, redfish, flounder and an occasional cobia were all on the menu.  My passion for it grew and the idea of becoming an inshore charter captain enticed me but, yet again, finances got in the way.  During that pursuit I continued to come across mentions of the U.S. Coast Guard.  I researched a bit more and kept being intrigued by what I found.  At the same time, the company I was working for started to struggle and was on the road to chapter 11 bankruptcy so I decided to jump ship and found my way to a USCG recruiting office in Jacksonville, FL.  The best decision I ever made!

The places the USCG has taken me, friends, memories and experiences I’ve had are incomparable to anything I could have imagined.  The Carolinas, Florida, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Alabama and the far Pacific island of Guam have offered me some of the most diverse terrain, marine life and coastal experiences imaginable.  I’ve evaded Kodiak brown bears while salmon fishing in Alaska, dodged alligators in my kayak while sight casting to red drum on the Louisiana flats and spearfished on Marianas reefs.  

Always near the water, a board or fishing pole have always been at the ready.  And, of course, a camera in hand to capture nature’s incredible displays! With two sons to share these experiences with and a wife that tolerates my exploits (and even tags along occasionally) I often have to slow things down but couldn’t be more blessed to be able to share these adventures with them.  They are my “Goonies” and we “never say die”.  Somewhere, some place there are sights we have yet to see and challenges we’ve yet to overcome. This is our outlet to share the images and moments of life experiences. If I’m able to inspire a single person to experience something new, then it’s all worth it.   -Mike Wolz