Growing up in Mobile County, Alabama, Mandy Tillman (@mandytrn75 on Instagram) was raised on the Gulf and its inshore waters.
“My father was a boat builder, owned a shipyard,” she says. “I grew up on the water.”
As a boat builder in South Alabama, shrimping was a way of life for Mandy’s father.
“I spent my childhood fishing inshore and fishing offshore,” she says. “I’d go out and catch speckled trout, flounder, jack crevalle.”
She didn’t stray too far from her roots when she met and married her husband, Kurt (@captain_kurt_t on Instagram) — who was a South Alabama shrimper.
Mandy, who is a registered nurse, would sometimes go out shrimping or fishing with Kurt. But “fourteen or fifteen years ago,” they bought their first fishing boat.
“We started in the Bay, and then eased our way farther out as we caught on,” she says. “Your knowledge base grows as you experiment with different types of fishing.”
Eventually, Kurt added a charter endorsement to his captain’s license and now he concentrates on taking folks out and teaching them about the bounty that the Gulf of Mexico has to offer. On weekends, when she’s not busy with her job as a representative for a pharmaceutical company, Mandy will go along on charters.
“I especially love deep-drop fishing,” she says. “You never know what you’re going to pull up — it’s kinda like a big surprise!”
Mandy’s particularly fond of hauling up deep-water grouper and snapper.
“On one trip we caught 13 different species of fish,” she says.
Mandy and Kurt use electric reels for their deep-drop bottom fishing.
“It’s awesome,” Mandy says. “I can push a button with one hand and hold a beer with with the other.”
Their primary fishing grounds are 60 to 80 miles south of the Alabama coast.
“We usually head out to the edge of the shelf, where it drops off,” Mandy says. “There’s just such a cool sense of peace out there.”
Because of her full-time job, Mandy doesn’t get out to experience that sense of peace as often as she would like.
“Fishing is what I do on weekends,” she says. “But it is so relaxing if I had a stressful week. And the sunset never gets old on the Gulf.”
Mandy really enjoys going out on charters with Kurt.
“It’s something my husband and I get to do together,” she says. “It’s just a lot of fun.”
Kurt runs his charters off Dauphin Island, a place Mandy describes as a “great little fishing community.”
She hopes to one day start a bed and breakfast there. Of course, they would still do the charters.
“Chartering is a great way to meet new people and connect with other people in the fishing community,” Mandy says.
We’re sure the feeling’s mutual with the Tillmans!