The Only Word to Explain it is … Epic!

Before I get too ahead of myself, let me start from the beginning.

June 20th, 1994 – I was on my first tarpon trip with my ex-husband. It was our honeymoon, and all I caught was a catfish. I had never seen a tarpon; the guide said they were greenish-silver, and I would see them rise on the waves. But I never saw a thing, and neither did anyone else. That day was never thought about again until last week.

April 28th, 2022 – It’s two days before my birthday, and I have three days of birthday fishing planned on the other coast with 14 other lady anglers. I get a call from my neurologist; the tumor on my brain, which has been under watchful waiting for four years, decides she wants to come out and play now, so surgery will be in the next few weeks. I’m in shock as I drive home from the store. This is not great news for my birthday.

The minute I walk in the door, I get a text that the seas are 5-7ft, and the offshore trip for the next day is called off; it’s just too dangerous to go out. I decide to tell my friend Amy about my news and how maybe it’s a good idea for me not to drive across the state. I’m still in shock, so I go to bed. I’m upset because this is not the birthday weekend I had planned.

April 29th, 2022 – I decide to go to the Fly Fishing movie with friends from our local Fly Fishing Club – Mangrove Coast FF Club. Had a great time, won some hats and gave some things away. Saw some great films.

April 30th, 2022 – It’s my birthday, and I wake up deciding I’m not going to stay in bed feeling sorry for myself. So, I meet members from Mangrove Coast out on Longboat Key and try for some snook on fly. I meet up with my friend Jackie, and we do our best to try casting in 15 mph winds. We try not to hook anyone; I came the closest by wrapping a 10-year-old girl in my brighter than the sun yellow. It should be super easy to see, yellow line, and luckily my fly lands on her shoulder with the hook sitting next to her skin; not in it. Whew!

Jackie and I talk a lot about fishing; we swear we see a tarpon rise from the pass, and it starts a new discussion. I told her about the fly fishing film I watched yesterday and how this one guy had waited 12 years to catch a permit fish. I told her it had been six years since I first tried for a tarpon. Just then, my trip from 1994 on my 1st honeymoon raced into my mind, and I started finger calculations. It was the same year our oldest was born, so I stopped counting on my fingers. It had been 28 years since my first tarpon trip, and I had never caught a tarpon.

I told her it was my mission to catch a tarpon before surgery. I didn’t care if I had to beg friends because I know a few that are some of the best tarpon wranglers in town. (Rusty and Lori) Or, if I had to, I would sneak onto the Longboat Key Club golf course and catch a micro tarpon in the pond there. It could be the smallest Tarpon ever caught on record. But I wouldn’t care. I just needed a win after getting such bad news. I just needed a Tarpon.

Without hesitation, Jackie looks at me over the howling wind and the crashing of waves, smiles, and says, “I’ll split a trip with you.”

Okay, I was thinking about different scenarios for getting to a place to find Tarpon. Totally didn’t even think about a tarpon trip. Easy peezy. Man, talk about overthinking things.

So, now I go home, and I reach out to my friend Tim for advice on who to go with. I tell him my situation, and he suggests. Captain Brock Harner of Tarpon Coast Fishing Charter. I had never heard of him, so I stalked him on some social sites, and he looked too good to be true. Giant fish, big smiles from his guests, 4.9 stars. Oh, and Tim said he targeted Tarpon all year round. In Sarasota, I know a lot of captains who see a couple here and there throughout the year. Still, our Tarpon season here is usually just May and June.

For those who don’t know about Tarpon, they get massive, up to 300 lbs. They are very long, solid, sardine-shaped fish made of pure muscle. They are trophy fish, but you can’t keep them. And no, we don’t eat them. But, in other countries, I think they do. You don’t fight these fish for 15-20 minutes; okay, maybe the small ones like only 2-3 feet long. We all want to catch the 5-8 ft fish where you fight for 45 minutes to sometimes well over an hour. We all wish the bigger ones would come in a little quicker, so they aren’t so tired. When they are tired, it makes them more susceptible to being eaten by sharks. Sadly it happens a lot.

After having a large pool of outstanding women anglers and friends to pick from, Amy Lockhart and Nancy Llacuna, both from IWFA – International Women’s Fishing Association, completed the foursome of anglers for our tarpon trip. We started to plan this fantastic trip, and I suggested matching colored performance shirts. Then we just spoke about fishing and how I’m suddenly obsessed with floral prints. I had no idea what was being organized behind the scenes.

On the morning of the trip, Amy and Jackie said they had never received their matching shirts from Amazon. I shrugged it off, thinking, who cares, we would get to catch Tarpon!
Little did I know when we met up with Nancy in Punta Gorda, the “Birthday” gift she handed me would cause so many tears. In the bag was a lavender fishing shirt like the one I picked out, but on the front and back were printed “#teamcorinne” with a beautiful tarpon. There was a matching buff and a floral headband. I was crying because they were so lovely and thoughtful.
Then all the girls laughed at me as they took shirts out of another bag and started putting on matching shirts and buffs. I was so touched, and they understood this was so much more than just about fishing. I struggled with my health and needed to check off bucket list items before removing a tumor from my brain. A surgery that could change my ability to do the things I take for granted now.
We hugged, cried, and laughed. We headed off to meet our Captain, who joined our cause by wearing all grey to support Brain Tumor awareness for May.
I know he felt a lot of pressure to put me on a tarpon, but the weather would add a little more pressure. The moment we hit the water, the winds kicked up a notch, and the white caps started to roll toward shore.
We started fishing in his usual spot, but not before we caught bluefish and ladyfish for chunk bait. We cast our lines in, and my reel went off. Attached to my line was a 5-foot blacktip shark. Definitely a bucket list fish for me! Although it wasn’t what we came for, I was grateful to have caught one.
The winds picked up, and the white caps were now 2-3 ft waves. Brock wasn’t seeing the amount of Tarpon he was used to, so he started calling other captains to see how the conditions were in the pass. He heard all he needed to hear, and off we headed to Boca Grande Pass, the place of legends. On a calm day during the summer months, you can find over 200 boats within this one channel, all dead set on hooking and landing a tarpon. Having 199 other boats with the same goal makes it difficult to fish for Tarpon since they are large, strong fish known for their air jumps and acrobats even when they’re not hooked and being reeled in.

There are many other factors to consider when wondering if you will land or catch your Tarpon. The proper gear is essential, good strong hooks, line, leader, and a rod and reel ready to take a good beating for long periods. The bait of choice is a pass or blue crab, but size can be a significant factor; they don’t want the biggest ones. But then sometimes they do. They have to be just the right size, and they must be alive. How you present the crab can be freelining or can be floating under a popping cork.

The other boats are an issue since they are fighting against the same odds as you are. The boats get close enough to spit on and sometimes ride over the line you have a tarpon hooked on. Definitely not ideal conditions.

So, now you have a tarpon hooked, and you know this because it feels like a car has just fallen off a cliff and is attached to your line. They hit hard. From that moment on, you hold on for dear life. Your hands will go numb, you will use all of your weight to gain some feet of line, you bend from your waist to your knees and pray and bow when they jump. Then you lean back to almost lying down when they rest and stop running. It’s not for the weak of heart, mind, or body.

I feel I need to explain all of this because unless you’ve ever actually caught a giant tarpon, you have no earthly clue what is in store for you. Photos and videos don’t do it justice.

So, back to the adventure. We head into Boca Grande Pass to hunt for Tarpon. I have now checked off two bucket list items. Since the wind was blowing about 15-20 mph, the weak of heart or maybe the strong in mind stayed home, knowing it would be a rough day. There were maybe 40 boats, not the usual 200. So, we were lucky to have one thing in our favor.

Immediately when we arrived, we noticed there were about 3 to 4 boats hooked up with Tarpon. There were about 4 Tarpon hooked up every moment we were there. Still, for the entire 6-7 hours we were out there, we only saw maybe two other boats who successfully landed their fish and got them to the boat. Now the most exciting thing about this moment, is not only are you trying to catch a Tarpon, watch other boats catch Tarpon, but there are tons of Tarpon jumping and rolling in the surf to distract you. It’s just incredible!

Within a few minutes of arriving in the pass amidst the other boats, I was hooked up with nice Tarpon; it stayed on for maybe 5 minutes and was then eaten by a shark. Oh, I forgot to mention the sharks. The 5-foot shark I caught earlier was like a baby compared to what lives and eats within the pass. 14-16 ft hammerheads, bull sharks, and black tips live well on the Tarpon that run back and forth through the pass all day.

So, after we lose that fish, we have another hookup or two, but they break off or throw the hook. When tarpon jump, they also thrash around shaking their heads, most of the time, the hook comes loose, and they swim away while you are left fishless. You have to bow down when they jump and make sure to point the rod tip at them, or you will lose your fish.

We hook another fish; this time, Amy keeps it on. This fish, she’s a big girl! I call all big fish “girls,” which is usually true since the females grow bigger and live longer than the males. Amy fights the Tarpon for about 30 minutes; the fish’s many air-jumps and flips keep us in awe of her strength and size. During her fight, Amy offered for me to fight the fish, knowing while everyone wanted to catch a tarpon today, today was about me catching one. I politely declined; this was Amy’s fish; this one was meant for her and only her.

Amy lands the fish at the side of the boat; we all cheer and quickly take photos. I start tearing up. I stare into this big beautiful eye looking up at me. I see a million different colors reflect off the silver scales. I know at this moment this is something so special, and I’m grateful to be here. The odds against this happening are imaginable. I am soaking up everything happening at this moment. Our team, #teamcorinnesrq caught a tarpon.

I look at the time and realize it’s time to go in. The waves are now 4-6, and the winds have shifted, and while I’m disappointed I didn’t catch one myself, I’m grateful our boat caught one. We ride closer to the middle of the boats, and the Captain stops the boat and starts putting crabs on our lines. We’re not done.

We all drop the lines, and Nancy’s rod bends over within a couple of minutes. She immediately yells for me to get to the cooler on the boat’s bow and sit down. I look at her, and she smiles. She tells me this is my fish. Captain Brock turns on one of my favorite songs by Kenny Chesney, “How Forever Feels.” I don’t have time to get emotional, but all kinds of feelings happen. I have a massive tarpon on my line, and it will be a long hard fight.

It sounds cool to say you fought a tarpon for an hour when you catch a tarpon. But it’s not cool for the fish. When you exhaust any fish by fighting it for long periods, whether Tarpon or sailfish, you risk that fish’s life. They no longer have the strength to outrun a shark. If they haven’t been eaten while you’re fighting it, the odds of getting eaten increase the longer you fight it.

I’m battling this fish, doing my best to get her to the boat as fast as possible, so she can swim away, but that option is not within my power. She is far too strong for me to strong-arm her in like I do with a redfish or snook. I always try to get fish in as fast as possible, so they can swim away strong. This fish had other plans.

While I was fighting the fish, I noticed that I almost fell off the cooler into the water a few times. The waves are now 5-7 ft; it looks like a scene from the movie “The Perfect Storm,” and I’m holding on for dear life with my toes and butt cheeks. I had a rod in my hands, so there was no other way to hold on. I know hundreds of sharks are in the water below me, and they are close by because they are chasing my Tarpon.

I notice my Captain has put the boat in reverse, and we start heading toward the beach. The beach is about half a mile from where we are, so I keep reeling when she rests, and I hold on with all I have when she runs the line out from my rod. It’s a dance of give and take, which lasts about 45 minutes.

Waves are building, the wind speeds are increasing, and I’m not sure I can hold on much longer. I don’t want to lose this fish, but it’s all over for both of us if I fall in. I’ve never been so scared and so excited in my entire life. I’m praying to God and asking for help from my fishing partner, Melissa, who I lost last year to cancer. I fished the Sarasota Tarpon Tournament with her for three years and still never caught a Tarpon. Those were some great days spent well on the water, talking about life and appreciating the beauty right in front of us.

As we get about 50 feet from the beach, I notice we have other captains that followed us in to watch me land my fish. There are about 20 people now taking photos and videos from up on the beach. I’m trying to get her to one side of the boat, but I can no longer reel; my hands are numb, my back is in so much pain, and I have no strength to stand up and keep reeling when the boat is so unstable.
Captain Brock quickly decides to beach his boat since there is no way his power pole would hold for this. He beaches the boat, jumps down to the beach, and waits for the fish. I hand the rod to Jackie to hold so I can stand and get my bearings. I walk a few feet to the side, she gives me the rod, and I bring the fish to the beach. I hand the rod to Captain Brock, and when I step off the boat, I fall right into the water and can barely stand. I’m that tired.
Captain Brock helps me up, I grab the rod, and the fish is right at the beach. All of the girls cheer and laugh as we sit holding the Tarpon in the water for photos. The waves are hitting us as they break on the shore, knocking us over but giving the fish time to rest.


When the girls stand up, we then take a photo with our Captain Brock. Then we hear someone ask the Captain about his boat; it has now floated into the dark part of the water where the sharks are. He swims off to retrieve the boat, and I am left holding this fantastic creature with all of the care and love I have in my body. Tears are running down my face, but nobody notices. I’m soaked by each wave, but I still hold her.


God had carried me to this moment, with friends supporting me every step, new friends, old friends, crossing off more than just catching a tarpon of my bucket list. I wanted more than anything to have a beach photo with a tarpon, and I got exactly that. Brock said it was destiny that the fish wanted to go for the beach; she wanted me to have my perfect catch and photo.

So, this is the part of the story where I ask for some help.

May 24th, 2022 at 7:30 AM – I go in for surgery to remove a tumor on my brain. I will have a long recovery, and I will not be able to have much in the way of adventure unless I watch a movie, but what fun is that?

So, I’m encouraging you to get out there and have your own adventures! Whether it’s a new food, a new way to exercise, a new jeep, a theme park, fishing, looking for birds, skiing, scuba diving, anything that makes you feel alive … I want to see it! For you and for me! I want to live your adventures with you until I’m healed enough to experience them again on my own.

Can I ask you to do that for me? For any photos or videos, just use the hashtag #teamcorinnesrq when you post them, and I can see them all. Either on Facebook or Instagram. I can’t wait to see what you’ll post!

Until my next adventure and story!! Have a great life because it’s the only one we’re given.

-Corinne Noel

I need that like a hole in the head

When life gives you lemons … what do you do?

This week, I was given a lemon in the shape of a tumor on my brain, which has unfortunately reached the perfect size for harvesting.

I knew I had a “lemon.”

They discovered it about 3 years ago. It was checked for growth, but it never showed the maturity needed for “picking.”

So we waited and checked it two years later. Nope, still not ready.

Well, it’s ready now.

My first visit with the Neurosurgeon was a little disenchanting. He said, “Your tumor … is insignificant.” I lost my breath for a moment and time froze. When I could finally speak, I said, “Well, it’s pretty significant to me!” He looked at me and tilted his head like a puppy distracted by a strange noise. He backpedaled a bit, apologized, and then recovered quite nicely.

There were months when I was still mad. I was angry at his insensitivity. He was cold. Detached. I thought he didn’t have a sympathetic bone in his body, and I repeatedly asked myself, “why am I seeing him?”

Bedside manner is something they try to teach in medical school, so I’ve been told. I worked in the medical field for almost 20 years, and I found many of the doctors I worked for must have skipped over “Bedside Manner 101” every semester it was offered. I would hear how patients were spoken to in the hall, but I always shrugged my shoulders and went about my business.

I was never on the receiving end of insensitivity at a time when I felt utterly helpless.

I had no idea how much it could hurt.

I know now what he said was to reassure me that it wasn’t something to worry about. Had I not been so scared walking into my appointment, I probably would never have felt attacked. I completely misunderstood his good intentions.

When I asked for a phone call to discuss the results this week, I didn’t want to wait until he was back from vacation, and I was sure it was just going to be the usual.

“It looks the same. No growth.”

“Really?”

“Yep, no change.”

“No change! Great! Thank you! I’ll see you in two years.”

That isn’t quite how it all went down. As always, he was so kind and careful with me. But this time he explained how it had grown, he didn’t like it, and he was sorry to have to tell me, it was time to take it out.

When I am looking for a doctor to do the job, the best it can possibly be done, I don’t care about bedside manner. If their skills are exceptional, the last thing I should care about is if they don’t hurt my feelings. When it’s life and death, you look at the facts.

Many of the best doctors have absolutely no people skills.

I have peace in knowing every doctor I’ve ever worked with, who lacked in the sympathy department, were some of the best doctors in their fields.

My Neurosurgeon is one of those doctors.

I am also happy to report that he has an excellent bedside manner. So, I beat the odds.

I won’t lie and say I’m not scared.

I am scared. Actually, I am terrified. And I wish this wasn’t happening to me.

I had been experiencing weakness on my right side. My balance is a little off, and my mood has been more than a little off. I think I knew this was coming. I’m still not entirely sure if I’m awake or if this is some terrible nightmare. But I know I’m in the best hands for what I need.

I know all of the specifics, from shaving 1/4 or more of my head, removing a piece of my skull, to cutting out the tumor. I know about the titanium screws and plates, taking seizure medicines, and possibly staying in the ICU for a night or two. I know about how the brain swells, and how I’ll need more meds like steroids for that and how there could be loss of motor functions or speech.

My fears are losing my ability to communicate, dance, walk, and fish. I know the fishing thing is silly, but fishing has never been silly to me.

But the biggest fear: Seizures. 

I’ve been around to witness three full blown seizures in my life, all unexpected and each one just as equally frightening.

But, I have peace in my doctor’s abilities, and I have faith in my God.

I worry more about what happens here on this earth if there are complications than I am about not waking up.

I know where I am going.

I have lost many friends in the last two years, too many to talk about, and if it’s my time, I know there will be one heck of a welcoming party there to welcome me in.

I have incredible peace with that scenario.

I know I have a date/time stamp on my life, set before I was born, and no matter what I try to do to stay longer or leave sooner, it won’t matter. I don’t have that control. None of us do.

I have no idea what God has in store for my life with this tumor, this surgery, or my time after. I do know, if it’s I’m here or there, it will be a great adventure. God will make sure of that!

When life gives me lemons, I buy a coffee mug to remind myself to keep it light, find the humor and always look for the positive in every situation.

I buy many bright-colored floral items and surround myself with beautiful things.

I stay away from people and things that can steal my peace and joy.

I watch out my window at the birds on the bird feeder, or I watch my cat sleeping.

I hug my children, my family and I hold my husband’s hand a little tighter.

I lean in toward God for the things others can’t give me.

He’s pretty great in times like this.

I hope you’ll look to Him in your times of need.

He’s such a great listener and a patient friend.

-Corinne Noel

Back to the Old Boring Blog

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” —George Bernard Shaw

I’ve been through a pandemic, so have you. We’ve been stuck inside and forced to do things differently. Things are just different, very different, and we are all different too. 

Here I am again.

I’ve been here before—many times. I’ve been all of the things for all of the people in all of the careers. I think that just about covers it. I’ve been back to this blog, time and time again, a love-hate relationship with photography. Hey, guess what? I’m back to fishing after 30+ years … but first, let’s try Mary Kay; oh, did I forget to mention Insurance sales? Oh, I really meant Real Estate … you get the picture.

Here I am again. Doing the only thing which has been constant since I was little—I’m writing. Maybe, in the beginning, it wasn’t on a Mac, or an iPad, or iPhone; in fact, I know it wasn’t, since none of those things were even a seed in the belly of technology at that time. Paper. The smell of paper and the sound of a pen leaving a trail of my thoughts on the page, and only time, water, and fire can make them disappear.

I’m back. After two years of school and a degree in writing and photography, I’ve come back to where I first sent my thoughts and writing out into the void of the internet to see what would come back. I have very few followers; you could count them on the one hand. Really, you actually can since I have exactly five followers. Surprisingly, what came back were very kind words from five people who stuck with me over ten years of trying to find my way. 

I can’t believe I ever left. I’m sorry I left.

I decided to resurrect my blog; it has been waiting patiently in a shallow grave for the last two years. I missed telling stories, sharing my photos, some of my memories, and maybe there was even a response back from somewhere within the void. I forgot how important it was for me to tell stories. I am a storyteller. Whether it is with my camera, computer, pen, or voice, I was made to tell stories. I have always written my stories to have significant meaning, maybe not as important, as an epic poem, a fable, or myth. But they have always had a purpose, connected with the heart, and left the reader thinking about things differently. I feel we all could use something to connect us with our hearts in times like this. 

So — I’m back.

This time I won’t pretend like I wasn’t destined to do this; I know I was. I have rekindled my love with photography, so I’ve even picked my camera back up. I’m ready to take some incredibly meaningful photos. I’m a little rusty, so if you need a portrait or headshot, give me a shout. I could use the practice.

I went back through every blog post I’ve written over the last 10 years, and I saw so many things I wanted to rewrite, change the phrasing of, the punctuation, and spelling. But then I got honest with myself, and sometimes we need to do that. I am only in competition with myself to make myself better today than I was yesterday. I left every misspelling, comma splice, incomplete sentence, blurry photo, and run-on sentence right where it was. If you want to see how technically flawed a writer and photographer I was, go ahead and read my old posts, there are some doozies. If you’re wanting to read some good stories, go ahead and read my old posts, there are a few I’m still proud of, even without the corrections. 

I’m back, flaws in plain view, humble, and ready to step into shoes I’ve been tiptoeing around since I was 8 years old. 

My name is Corinne Noel North-Fuller and I’m a storyteller. 

I write sentences. I take photos.

I hope you’ll stay and see what happens next. 

To my faithful five — thank you ❤️ and here we go again!

— Corinne Noel 

Forever Recalculating the GPS of My Life!

8DCD954E-9147-4BC9-B2E4-2C2A6B03895CI’m sitting with my feet up on the big comfy couch in my living room. I stare out the window in front of me, and since I have the blinds pulled up to the top, I can see the grey overcast sky so thick with fog that I can’t find the sun. My cat is pacing across the top of the couch like a new father in the waiting room of labor and delivery. She sees a lizard doing reptile pushups.  I read somewhere that it’s a mating thing, but I secretly think they are just showing off ! They probably watch me trying to do even one pushup, silent laughing (I’ve never heard a lizard laugh, so they must do it quietly.), Then they purposely sit on my windowsill, knowing I’m struggling, so they push out like 25 in a minute! Jerks! I won’t try to save them next time they get trapped in the house, I’m let my cat play with it, eat it, spit it back out and continue to play with it … all while I sit quietly laughing so they know it’s personal!

Well … that went in a totally different than I thought, but really it will make perfectly imperfect sense soon! Well, those that have followed along with me, know that I was a photographer for a long time and since I’ve had this blog for 8 years you know I like to write. Looking at the amount of posts in an 8 year period, you would think I hated it, now that I look at it. I don’t hate writing, I absolutely love it, just like the small bowl of cheddar cheese goldfish that I’m devouring! When I’m writing, it’s actually freakishly similar to eating these goldfish, because I do it so effortlessly, that I don’t feel like I’m eating an entire bag or writing a small novel!

If you’ve followed along on my blog posts, website, Facebook or even Instagram, you would see my love/hate relationship with photography. The art and act of Photography is a deep love of mine, it’s in my soul and no matter how many times I have walked away, run away or hid in a small closet from it … it still finds me, it knows my heart and knows how I cherish that gift. All that being said, I despise what has happened to the photography industry. Just like a an older women of incredible size and lack of balance, with no grace, rhythm or strength , it’s fine if she dances in her house, with family and friends, but … she probably (just a hunch) shouldn’t try out for “So you think you can dance?”  Neither should someone who just picked up a new $300 camera on Craigslist last week, think that they should post an ad and offer their services as a “Professional Photographer” to poorly document and disfigure an entire wedding party with over editing each photo, all for the bargain price of $100! I’m all for starting out somewhere and I did many weddings and events for free in the beginning, until I was competent and consistent to charge for my services. I went through stages of trying to keep up with every new fad and dropping them as fast as they went away …by the way the black and white photos with just a spot of color, that has been gone for years, it wasn’t even that cool then, please stop! I love to shoot, to capture cool moments and feelings, but I hate to edit! I know I could hire someone else to edit, but really why, it’s my work, I feel editing your own work should be required to still slap your watermark on it and call it yours! I was taught, online by some incredible photographers, that you try to take a better photo and less editing in post processing. However, I like all the cool presets and filters, it’s fun, frustrating and exhausting! So, I’m not looking to carry my photography any further, unless it creeps into me while I’m sleeping and possesses my mind, which then I still haven’t conscientiously made the decision to move forward, so okay, there’s that scenario. I want to just use it when I want, for what I want, with no expectations or pressure. Well, we will see how long this last … this time!

I’ve been writing poetry and stories since I was a kid. I still have the first poem that I wrote my best friend Natalie when I was like 8 years old. Looking back, not bad for an 8 year old who grew up back then, as for an 8 yr old now … it would be total crap and a 4 yr old could wipe the pavement with me. I saw my love for writing and the ability to tell stories, woven like a fine silver thread through my life and now I feel I want there to be a greater concentration of silver in this part of the hand-made cozy blanket of my life.

Where was I going with all of this clown up on a soap-box blog post … to tell you that I have a hunch that you’ll see a bit more of my blog posts popping up in the near future. As for what you will find here, well, I can’t really be sure, I just want to write to get it out of my head. Sometimes I want to paint you a picture of something touching and beautiful and other times it’s something silly and pure brilliance! Either way, I hope that you will stick around to see how this all turns out. I’ve got my bag of popcorn out now and I’m waiting for the good stuff to happen now too, so lets see where this circus will stop next!

-Corinne Noel

Portfolio

Below are some of my favorite images. I have many more sport, wedding and event images that are great as well, but that’s not the direction I intend to go in. I have come to an age where I want to produce authentic images that incite feelings and meaningful thoughts! I hope you enjoy

Corinne Noel †

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If you focus too hard on the prize, you might miss the beauty of the journey!

This…this is the face of joy, contentment and gratitude.

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My journey started back in February when I found out that I had to have a tumor removed from my head. They failed to get a good sample in the biopsy, so until April when it was removed, we had no idea if I had cancer or not. To not know, but think you might have cancer, can really change the way you look at your life. It can completely change you and hopefully your circumstances if done right. Praise be to Jesus, there was no cancer!  While we were waiting for the surgery, I decided to go with Heroes on the Water for an event at Robinson Preserve. They take Veterans out on kayaks to fish with their families for no charge…it was amazing!! Though I only caught one fish, it was enough to remind me of the great love I had for fishing as a child.I was in a tandem with a great guide, he paddled the entire time, which is great, because I’ve never been in a kayak before! 01a2db50382180168f27873ccd5aacaf8958808158

Bronson, my 15 yr old and I rented kayaks from Economy Tackle a couple of times and I heard about a fishing tournament sponsored by the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida – CCAFL, it was called the CCA Florida Star tournament. The tournament was for 108 days, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, all Summer long which was perfect for me, since I still wasn’t working. I had walked away from a position with US Senior Vets that I loved! I’ve never had that much passion for a job, but there were major stresses that took a toll on my health, so I had to step down. Bronson was out of school for the Summer and I feared he would spend the entire Summer on his iPad, so I thought this would be the perfect way to get him out of the house. After having a tumor, not sure if I had cancer or not, getting ill after the surgery, having suppressed autoimmune disease symptoms attack me and keep me in bed for a few weeks. I wanted out of the house and my renewed love for fishing was the way we would start to change our lives! I’ve wanted to move out of Florida since I was about 15, I’ve hated the beach, the gulf…everything about Florida, but all of that was about to change. I would learn that God could change a heart and that I would grow to love this beautiful state and how fortunate I have been all of these years to live where I do!0145c4b514ebb23a5a6b04d645e10939900dbedfaa

We started fishing in the kayaks we rented, we continually would ask the guys at Economy Tackle for fishing advice on lures, where to fish, best hooks…okay, really everything, because we had no clue! See, this tournament was an inshore fishing tournament, to catch a tagged redfish would bring the biggest prizes, but there were other fish in the Open category that had great prizes too. So, we were hunting, red fish, cobia, sheepshead, spotted sea trout and snook. Not a problem, except that neither of us had ever caught any of the fish needed for the tournament and we didn’t know how or where to find them! I fished a lot growing up until I was maybe 15, then maybe 5 times in the last 30 years and my sweet grandfather always took care of knotted lines or putting hooks and weights on the line, so I really didn’t know anything! I did watch him, so I think it may have helped a little…but I knew how to fish, he taught me that and I think you never lose that! We also were fishing out of kayaks which I will tell you, isn’t very easy and to make matters worse, the first time we rented one, was the first time I’ve ever paddled a kayak on my own and only the 2nd time I had been in one! So we were learning everything as we went, maybe not the smartest way to do it, but heck, we had 108 days…anyone could learn anything in 108 days!

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I found a friend on Facebook that was selling like brand new Kayaks at a steal, so we bought kayaks of our own. We had only invested $60 for me to enter the tournament, my son since he was under 17, it was only $15 for him to enter. The Youth division was for scholarships, there were 2- $25,000 scholarships and 10-$5,000 available. It was enough of a motivator for him to get out and fish and I wanted to win a boat so we would continue to fish and because I personally  was having a problem fishing in the kayak that I wasn’t sharing with anyone. I had developed a fear of sharks & what I can’t see in the water under me, when I was probably 4 or 5 years old. I never outgrew it, I fought it and tried scuba diving with them, no problem, but now if they can get under me or if I don’t know they are there…I get very anxious and I have panic attacks. However, I haven’t really told anyone, because I’ve never really had a fear of anything, no fear at all, until I came back from the Army. I wasn’t in battle, it wasn’t that, but something in me changed while I was in and now I get panic attacks. Anyway, the only person who was seeing me freak out was my son, but he just thought I was scared of sharks or that I was just being a girl! 019d1a96fff76569a195006156392ef99f55361173

 

 

 

 

 

Bronson had his 15th birthday celebration on the boat of my friends Tony & Shelley Ballam. He offered to take us out, they knew we were wanting to really do some deep sea fishing, since the closest we had been was the Flying Fish twice in the last 2 weeks, catching grey snapper and grunt.My older son was home on leave from Ft Bragg, so he went on the Flying fish with me too. It was more like a video game, not much to it.We would bring up 2 to 3 fish at a time and we would have a contest to see who would catch the most, so the Flying Fish is not really the type of fishing we wanted to do. So, going out that morning with Tony & Shelley the weather was rough, most boats never even made it out of the 10th street boat ramp, but we were with a real pro! Bronson caught a 4 ft barracuda, I caught a 15lb Jack Crevalle and we caught our limit of Red Grouper. It was a blast, we had the best time and they were amazing hosts! So grateful for that trip! Tony is a great captain!!01a4c850bf33842c234a0fbc956701eafd3c6392a4 01a5cb31a849e21e63cac26318a52610fd3bef0c91 01ab8b9a1fefae4b34d47ca45acc229fe20fe90179 01c5ea49a005796f04027b6c356e6602c9da3c7ebb 0120c5bbfe9925a00a175e015fe6f9fccb2480741d 0154fe009e5f1268bb9e875a7ecb9ea573a55b409d

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, we fish our little hearts out for a month between the kayaks and the local pier…we bother Lt. Dan from Economy Tackle so much about these redfish, that I have still never seen after fishing for a month in the tournament, that he offers to take us wading in Lemon Bay. He jokes about it being a shark breeding area, but says the water is clear you can see sharks coming and says he and his wife, Toni will meet us down south on Sunday. I research every possible thing about what attracts sharks,how many attacks and deaths from people wade fishing and if wading gear is a deterrent . We show up on Sunday and it’s overcast, and the water is murky…he says if something bumps you, hit it with your pole! Panic starts to take over my body as we are wading to almost hip high, he’s concerned that we can’t see anything if it was coming for us…then I catch my firsts red fish and she is beautiful and all my fear is gone!! I let her go and then catch my first sheepshead. It turned out to be a great day, but the sheepshead was bleeding a bit and I could hear the panic in his voice to send it on it’s way before we called in the sharks. Still, an amazing day and a great friendship was formed. If it wasn’t for Dan, I think we would never have found any fish!0128b77aeab2aeafec68df68ea5b9c9f60d2162808

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two months into the tournament, we have become decent fisherman, mostly out of the kayaks and if no luck, we stop at the pier on the way home to cast under the pier and catch mangroves so we feel we caught something. The guys at Hart’s Landing Bait shop, said I bought more bait then anyone other than fishing guides…we were there A LOT!!! Bronson caught a redfish from under the pier one day, I was helping bring it up, the line broke…he will never let me forget that…I am putting it in writing just in case he forgets that he will never let me forget  it 😉 We are fishing about 4-5 times a week, still no new redfish, but we are mastering seatrout, so we have entrees for the open division, so not all is lost. People are catching tagged redfish right & left, but they were never registered for the tournament, so they don’t win anything, all 5 boats were still up for anyone to win!01139a1a41d5d0a0351bbe9189ad9d3acdb96b8429

 

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A friend from High school Tami Doutrich had posted a photo of a redfish that she had caught and after asking a few questions…we had a new spot to fish, said to be loaded with redfish! When you don’t know where to find a certain type of fish, everyone will tell you where and how they catch them and 99% of the time, it doesn’t work. I say this, because we chased unicorns for 2 months before we went to the spot Tami told us to go to. She was an angel sent to rescue me from going insane! The first day we went, Bronson caught almost 20 redfish, though all under 14 inches, we were excited, because they were really there! I caught a sheepshead that first day and we realized this was where we needed to fish for the last month of the tournament and we did almost every day for the last month! Tami sent me a message on Facebook one morning and told me her brother had caught one of the tagged redfish in the place we were now fishing that morning and released it. We were fishing in the right spot and now we were even more determined to catch a tagged redfish that would win us a $60,000 boat, motor and trailer!!! We fished in the rain, we fished in the heat, standing up the entire time, battling oysters, a huge population of mangrove snappers and we caught a lot of fish! We mastered sheepshead! I caught over 7 keepers in one day and I made it my goal each day to catch one to log and then try for the redfish. I caught a huge redfish, over 30 inches one day, had to have the park attendant help me bring it up, but my line broke 4 feet out of the water. It didn’t have a tag, so no big deal, but wow, what a fish!

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The last day of the tournament, sister Beth’s boyfriend Jeff Weber, offered to take us on his boat with a friend who catches a lot of redfish.My sister wanted us to win the tournament too, so her and her boyfriend came back from their stay in Miami a day earlier, just to take us out on his boat! We are still blown away by their selflessness! Still wanting to win a boat…we drove down to Cape Coral went out into the storm on Labor Day, fished for hours, dodged thunderstorms, chased tarpon in the marina at dusk, but no tagged redfish. Bronson did catch a beautiful redfish and lost a 40+ inch redfish, and I caught a huge catfish! We did everything we could have, we went from no knowledge of fishing to being pretty good fishermen! I spent hours alone fishing, praying, singing, yelling and crying to God! I wanted a boat so bad, in the end, there were days where I fished 6 hours, came home and then went back out another 4-5 hours, it had become my job to fish! I was exhausted! I was so upset that I didn’t win a boat by catching a tagged redfish!I know that God isn’t  Santa Claus or a magic genie that grants wishes, but I know that if you put in the work, that you will be rewarded. On the ride back in the boat on Labor Day, after the storms had cleared and all was calm, I noticed so was I. I had time to reflect on these past 3 months and I’ve come so far. I have battled my fears, I have fought for time with my boys making memories that will last forever and I have found a new life so far from the one before my surgery. In 3 months, we learned how to fish, and fish from kayaks, while in a tournament! I have found my love for fishing and want to do this professionally one day! I see many more tournaments in the future! I am so grateful for the people who have so selflessly offered there knowledge, their secret spots, their time, their money and their hearts! My husband is the most understanding and amazing man and he became a fisherman’s widow for the last 3 months. He let us fish, encouraged us to fish and cheered us on! None of this could have happened without him. He worked hard while I went off to fish every day. I am so appreciative for his sacrifices to allow us to live this dream! My faith in God carried me when I was ready to give up, His love carried me and He renewed my spirit every day that ended without a tagged redfish.He is faithful…it’s always His way and His timing, but in the end…He still gave me a boat 🙂  Bronson won a $5,000 college scholarship and  I won a boat!!! I promised if I did win a boat that I would use it to help other women, kids and families to learn to fall in love with fishing, with the outdoors and make memories! I want to help others to learn to fish, so they can enter amazing tournaments like this one and win things that will change their live! Even if they don’t win…they will make memories that cannot be made in front of the tv or on the couch with your phone in your hand!

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I don’t know everything about fishing, I’m a long way from that, but I know enough to be dangerous…to the fish! I’d love to help anyone who wants to learn to fish, maybe catch some, but mostly have some fun and not be judged by if you are afraid to touch a shrimp or a slimy fish! This is where the story ends, but our new journey is just beginning 🙂 By the way, I don’t know how to operate a boat or have a place to keep one, so give me a few days to figure it  all out and then let’s go make some memories!

Tight lines and God bless!!

Corinne Noel †

 

 

 

 

 

How did I get here and why did it take so long to find myself?!

me at 6This is the first photo that I have of myself fishing. The fish was actually frozen stiff, but I didn’t really care, I wanted a picture with my fish. My grandmother had dinner ready so we put it in the freezer for just a minute and well…hours later we remembered him! It’s one of my favorite photos! The year was…ummm… a few years ago and I was about six.  I was spending the summer with my grandparents down in Venice. My family moved to Sarasota, Florida and my grandparents lived close, so I would go stay with them during the summer while not in school. I spent most every summer down there until I was about 11 years old. Sometimes my three older sisters would be there or maybe it was just my cousin Christopher and I.  Those summers we spent down there were some of the best summers of my life… but I forgot how great they were and how happy I really was.

Back in the 70’s…giving my age away… both of my parents were working a lot. I had older sisters who would watch me most of the time, but to go to my Grandparent’s house, that was the best!! They lived in a mobile home park, which to this day is still one of the nicest I’ve ever seen. They had two clubhouses with huge pools and many lakes. I would be lying if I said it was the most boring place for a six year old. Oh and I got to drive golf carts around everywhere, it was awesome! They had pairs of swans that patrolled the lakes they were super scary and they chased me home a lot, but it was still fun.

My grandfather, I believe, was one of the most patient men that had ever walked the face of this Earth. He had 4 granddaughters and 3 grandsons and we all wanted to fish. He taught his daughters and all of his grandchildren,  because he knew we would love it as much as he did. He spent most of his time putting bobbers and hooks back on our poles after breaking our lines that were always horribly stuck in the rocks at the Venice Jetties. I don’t believe that I actually ever remember him fishing at all. He was always helping us and there were so many of us! He would go from one to the other and never stop the entire time we fished. We were very high maintenance, it’s a miracle he lived to 99…we must have really kept him in shape!

Most of the time I would fish in the lakes at the park. They had a beautiful clubhouse with a porch overlooking the lake with big wooden rocking chairs. I would gather a bag of old bread and a couple of hot dogs, and head over to the clubhouse porch to fish every day! They had thousands of blue gill  that could easily be caught by balling up a piece of bread or ripping off a piece of hot dog. You would carefully put it on the hook and lower it into the water. Hopefully it stayed on long enough for a fish to get it and if you mastered the art of bread balls…you could pull up fish every minute, all day! They would feed like piranhas! Not much sport in it, but could be very competitive when seeing who could catch the most or the biggest.

Now the biggest fish in the lake were the bass, but the biggest was this one large mouth bass, “Big Daddy Bass.” He was a mythical creature that others spoke of, but few actually ever saw. In my years of fishing there, I saw him maybe five times and I caught him once! He was too heavy and broke the line, but it was an awesome day!! I loved fishing and it was hard to keep me away from the water back then. I don’t know really know what happened to me, but I guess I just discovered horses and boys, which left no time to fish.

As I look back, there was never a time where I loved living in Florida, I’ve always wanted to move to the mountains and be near lakes. I’ve truly hated living in Florida and as I grew older, I never went to the beach and definitely would not go in the water or fish. If it was a holiday that my big, crazy, awesome family would spent out at the beach I would go. I might fish, but it was just to pass the time, no real enjoyment. Then in March of this year I was contacted about a Heroes on the Water event at Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. They offered to take my family and I out in kayaks to fish for no cost, since I was an Army Veteran. Not many fish were caught, but I caught the fishing bug that day…my love of fishing returned and what happened next would change everything!

Shortly after that, I had decided to have a tumor in my neck/head surgically removed. I had ignored it for a few years, for the fear of having partial facial paralysis. I was having problems that left me no choice but to remove it.  We tried to biopsy the tumor, but it was in such a tight area, they couldn’t get a good sample. So going in to this surgery, we had no idea if it was cancerous or not. I was under a great amount of stress from my job and my doctor said there would have to be changes made in my career and a lifestyle change with more fun and less stress! I spent every moment like it was my last, I fished a lot with my younger son and then I went in for the surgery. Praise Jesus that it was not cancerous! I realized there were many changes I would have to make in my life. When I was recovering, I realized how much I had truly missed fishing all of these years. I realized how much I LOVE where I have lived for almost 40 years. I realized that I have not been living, just going through the motions and I was ready to start the life I owed myself, my husband and my children. I was ready for joy, laughter, contentment and peace with who I am. For anyone praying for God to change a family member or friend’s heart…I’m proof! He completely changed my heart…it took 40 years, but it can be done, please don’t lose hope!

I know this was a long story, but I felt the need to bring you up to speed, to how I got here and why I’ve turned a photography blog into a fishing & lifestyle blog. I’ve been fishing non-stop since I recovered from my surgery back in May. I’ve searched for 2 months for the elusive redfish and finally caught one! I will have to tell that story another time, but know that it’s my favorite fish, so strong and gentle all at the same time! Don’t get me started on how beautiful they are! I try to fish 3-5 times a week and it still seems like I want to do more. When my son is tired and wants to quit…I’m just getting started. I would love to fish professionally one day, hopefully before I’m 60 or I won’t be able to get the fish in the kayak! I fish by kayak when weather permits, but it’s summer and highly unpredictable like a toddler. So lately, it’s been pier fishing, which is not my favorite, but please know how grateful I am to just be fishing, to be alive and to spend time with my husband and kids! Someday I’d like to have a small boat, maybe I’ll win one…maybe I won’t…but it won’t matter either way…because I’ll still be fishing! If you ever want to fish, I’d love to go!  If you don’t know how to fish,  I’ll teach you everything I know, which honestly isn’t a lot, but I’ll make sure we have some fun. If you know a lot about fishing, I’d love to learn anything you are willing to share.

I wish for you all…lines that are tight, bait that is lively, hooks that set & big fat beautiful fish that make you smile 🙂

Corinne Noel †

Where do I start?

It’s a Wednesday afternoon, I’ve been working my insurance job most of the day and for a moment I reflect back on my photography career. I’m sure many will let out a laugh or maybe roll their eyes, thinking that it wasn’t much of a career. I was never famous, I was never paid $20,000 for a wedding, I never won an award at WPPI for one of my photos and I never went on tour teaching others my style of photography from my tour bus. However, I did start taking photos when my oldest son Anderson was 5 and he’s 18 now.

In the last 13 years, I’ve photographed weddings, graduating seniors, babies, families, pets, talented athletes, homes for sale, new businesses, wild animals, amazing sunsets and much more! If you asked anyone about their photos…they would say I captured the right moment, the one look that defined the moment or that I helped them to realize something special and beautiful. I made a difference in someone’s life or something’s life, like a dog that needed a forever home, but I made a difference!! That means more to me than being a Rock Star Photographer!

I’ve made money, but I did a lot for free and you can’t have a successful business or support your family when you do too many things for free. I did a lot of photographing for myself in the beginning and I find that I really got away from that quickly and then it all seemed like work and forced creativity, which is painful for any artist! Again, I’m sure there will be more eye rolling, but I am an artist. A great chef isn’t great because of the stove or cooking ingredients, it’s what he creates with them. It’s not the camera, it’s where I focus my attention, the lighting I choose, the mood I want you to feel…that is art! I forgot about the art, I focused on what others were doing, or what I needed to do so I was like all the other photographers! I lost the part of my photography that was me 😦

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When I think about where to start, I know I need a camera and that is still awhile off, but I need to find out where I want to be, what I want to photograph, what were my mistakes, what really worked for me, where was I comfortable and did I push myself in a direction that I couldn’t connect with? What do I photograph that takes my breath from me, but still makes me feel alive?

I don’t have $3,000 for a Canon 5D Mark iii with a 24-105mm lens today, so I’m going to work with what I do have. There is a cheesy saying ” I think I was taking photos long before I ever had a camera!” It may be cheesy, but it’s so true! I will photograph with my mind until I get a camera, I’ll remember how to see what others miss, to appreciate each moment, to wait for that thing… that one thing that happens at the right second and its tells the whole story in that one moment! It’s humbling to start over, to pull yourself out of the ashes after crashing and burning, but it’s also really beautiful. I get a do over and who doesn’t love a do over!!

Corinne Noel

It’s more than just a rock!

I’m sitting at my desk and I have to admit, I’m feeling…numb! It’s not that I’m feeling nothing, it’s more like when you feel too much and then you can’t feel anymore, so you’re numb, but totally aware!! I find that I’m most humble in this place, I get sick of the sound of my own voice. I notice my faults, weaknesses and mistakes…but it’s where I feel most like me. Here, in this place, I can see EVERYTHING!! It’s such a place of clarity for me, I’m not bogged down with emotion, because I’m past the RAW stage, where it hurts, now I can use it to make me stronger, I can lick my wounds, make changes and start again. This is what it must feel like to the forest after a fire…with the potential to grow again, brighter, stronger, higher…better 🙂 There is so much beauty in being humble and fragile!

I see the steps of where I’ve been and the path before me looks a little familiar, but my footsteps veer off into a high traffic area and that’s not where I want to go! I’ve been there, I’ve failed, I got up, tried something new, succeeded but felt empty, tried something new…you know how it goes. I know I’m getting all serious and usually I’m all laughs or I make you cry, but today I know that I need to do something different! Today, I live intentionally and as real as I humanly can! I LOVE photography! I LOVED being a photographer and while I’ll admit there were many things about it that I loathed…I feel like I can’t breathe without it!!

I believe that is where you have to get…get as far away from something that you love, walk away, free yourself from every camera, every lens, backdrop, photo book, etc. and then you can miss it, you can appreciate it and vow if it will let you come back, that you’ll be different this time. I want to come back!!! I have nothing, but an iPhone and a dream in my heart…but it’s somewhere to start!!  I want to be a professional photographer again…for real this time, no giving up, for better or worse!! But how…how do I get there???

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This rock…this boring smooth stone…I took this, well actually I asked permission (can you believe that!!) from the desk clerk at the MGM Towers, I asked if I could have it from the waterfall in the lobby, waiting to come back home after my 1st time at WPPI 2011. I wanted to remember how AMAZING WPPI was and how WONDERFUL this photography community really is when you reach outside of my city, to where there are truly big name photographers that are nicer than some of the  local ones with half the talent!  I was on fire and I let it blow out. I still have this stone to remind me of what I felt I could do, of what I dreamed that I could create, of what I really felt…was real!! I’m ready to be real too 🙂 It’s a long way back…but I know all the roads, I’ll be taking a few different ones, the ones I was afraid to take…this time…it’s going to be BEAUTIFUL!!!!

Welcome back…Corinne Noel Photography 🙂

Mission #1 …going to need a camera…oh and probably one with a lens might be good 😉

The Passing of a Photography Business…

 

This is a bitter-sweet day for me…I have decided to close my photography business. My first paid job was family portraits at the park for a friend, I really had NO idea what I was doing, since I had only photographed birds and my kids 🙂 7 years later, being professional full-time for the last two years brings me full circle and to the understanding that I still have NO idea what I am doing, but it would have to be more with running my own business. I love photography, but I’ve come to the point where I no longer enjoy it & that is the saddest part. If you ever get to that point with what with something that you love…walk away before you hate it! Many will think that I am another victim to the new photography community where everyone with a camera thinks they are photographers, with $250 weddings & a $50 family portrait session…CD with full res images included 😉 If anything that drove me harder to be better, to be different and to give more customer service 🙂 I have many people in this community to thank… Becker, Dane Sanders, Jasmine Star, David Jay, Doug Gordon, Sal Cincotta, Me Ra Koh, Kevin Jairaj…and I could go on. There was so much support, that I don’t think I would have made it this far without them. However, they were too far away to save this little company & I couldn’t get the support locally that I needed. It’s very difficult to run your own business, I know that now, I’m grateful for the lessons, the friends and the memories 🙂

I thank all of my clients…well, we were really friends, weren’t we 🙂 Thank you for trusting me with your beautiful moments…it was truly my honor 🙂

I’m moving on to other pastures…I’m teaching skin care and makeup artistry with Mary Kay Cosmetics full-time now, so if you’re ever in the need of a free facial, a lipstick or just a friend to chat with…I’m your girl!

My blog is going to change a bit…still heartfelt stories, but not about photography, so you can still visit me!

With love & blessings…Corinne Noel †