Nate Weinbaum spent most of his life working hard, running his own construction business. Then one day, he started thinking: Every day is a gift, might as well spend it doing what you love. So, he started fishing full-time.
“You’re in these amazing places, and people want to talk about work. I get people onboard on the phone, ducking behind the console, logging billable hours,” he told us with a laugh. “I was that guy for a while, too. Couldn’t work enough hours in the day. I heard it all: fishing is for kids, it’s foolish, leave it for when you’re dead. But it starts to wear on you. You don’t detach, you don’t hear yourself think. There are too many distractions. Out here, in the backcountry, there’s none of that. You can feel everything slowing. You start to hear thoughts again. Little details come forward. You become sensorially, viscerally in tune with everything.”
When we contacted Nate to do a little escaping of our own, he had the perfect idea—head to the backcountry. “Cape Sable is an island in Everglades National Park, about 45 miles from Islamorada, and it’s only accessible by boat. There are crocodiles and mosquitoes. It’s underutilized, it’s rugged, it’s remote. I went there about 5 years ago, and as soon as I did, I thought, ‘This is my place where I can get away.’”
But just because you’re getting off the grid doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable or eat cold beans out of a can like some Steinbeck character. “For me, just being tired, sweaty and smelling like fish guts doesn’t mean that I’m eating poorly,” Nate said. “I might forget a pillow or a sleeping bag, but I’ll have $20 steaks and good wine. Everything tastes better when you’re on a boat. It adds to the whole experience. It helps me sit back and think—my life cannot get any better.”
For Nate, these moments when he finally gets a day off are a time to relax, recharge and realign himself with what he loves. “The older guys in the marina tell me, ‘You’re gonna burn out, this is your fifth year, and you’re fishing 12-hour days, for 20 to 30 days in a row.’ So when I tell them this is how I spend my days off, they don’t get it. But I have to get out there and cast for myself to keep going. I have to remember the nuances and the joy of it all.”
“It’s not just the fishing, it’s being able to do whatever the hell I want to do,” Nate tells us. “It’s important to learn how to relax and to be in the moment. To not have a schedule. I think that taking trips like this, that’s what it’s all about.”
“If you don’t step out of your comfort zone, you’re never going to experience great things,” Nate told us. “With adventure, sometimes you have to be a little uncomfortable—the bugs might come up, it might be hot or it might rain. But in the end, hopefully everyone will realize it was worth it.”