Court Douthit grew up in Southern Illinois where he spent the majority of his time playing in the woods, exploring the lake by his house and tromping through the bottoms of the Little Wabash River. On a few occasions he was invited to join an older neighbor as he went pan fishing with a fly rod. They would meet at his house as the sun came up and walk to the lake where they would board the neighbor's small john boat. Court would use earth worms and crawdads that were gathered from the creeks in the neighboring woods. Every time this gentleman and Court would go out, he would catch three-plus pan fish to Court’s one. Since that time Court has honed his fishing skills and is sure he could get the ratio a little more even. The damage was done by that memory.
At Indiana University Court joined the Indiana University Bass Fishing Club Team after pressure from his friend Kevin White. This allowed the opportunity to converse with other anglers, learn more about fishing new waters and targeting species of fish in unfamiliar conditions. These experiences helped Court to learn more about fish habits, and different techniques that may entice fish to eat.
Seattle, Washington was the first stop after college. Hiking the Cascade and Olympic mountains was only interrupted by salmon season. Once again, Court was intrigued by fly fishing. In the mountain rivers, anglers were stealheading, and in the alpine lakes and streams, backpackers would pull out their three and four weight fly rods for trout.
After two and a half years, in Washington, Florida’s pristine saltwater flats called Court to their shores. This is where saltwater fly fishing became the main focus in Court’s life. After being introduced to Jim “Mo Henry” Nielsen, Court finally had someone who promised not only to take him fly fishing but to get him hooked on this sport. Jim took Court out and introduced him to his good friend Capt. Fred Glenn. On their first outing they met at Fred’s house and then proceeded to Ft. Desoto State Park.
They dipped that sixteen foot Hewes into the bay on a perfect day for fishing the flats. Fred and Jim both bombarded Court with tips and pointers on how to cast, strip, and set the hook (rod pointed at the fish). The plan was to mainly watch and try to cast from the stern side of the boat. Jim decided to take a break and let Court on the casting platform, partially because they had not seen a tarpon in a while.
Almost instantly there was a pod of three or four, 100+ pound tarpon cruising down the 4’ deep flat directly at the boat. Court froze with anxiety and adrenaline. Jim pushed him aside and flipped the fly that John Homer, owner of Salt Water Angler in Tampa, FL, had tied and recommended for these particular tarpon. The lead fish in the pod opened up and inhaled the white and black cockroach fly.
Instantly, it sounded like someone had dropped a VW bug in the shallow water next to the boat. The poon tail walked for several yards and then disappeared. As soon as the fish submerged we realized that Jim had cleared his line off the deck and the fish was ripping drag off the twelve weight Water Works reel. The fish jumped a second time at least a hundred yards off the port side of the boat. Shortly after the second jump, the fish broke the twenty pound class tippet and the fight was over. Everyone was excited and in awe, but Court had a whole new perspective of fishing and possibly life.
Implementing Tarpon Preschool 2011...
In 2006 Court had taken his captain’s course mainly for personal knowledge. He spent 5 weeks in Boca Grande chasing poon and listening to fishing stories from some of the most reputable guides in flats fishing. Several local guides and anglers took him under their wing and started explaining the intimacies of the saltwater species targeted primarily on the west coast of Florida. After spending most of 2007 fishing every single day Court has since been chasing any type of fish that he runs across, throwing a fly to tempt them; Tarpon, Barracuda, Trout, Snook, Red fish, Flounder, Bass, Blue gill, Ladyfish, Spanish Mackerel…Anything that eats.
With a job that paid decent and afforded much flexibility to get out on the water, Court spent the next couple of years simply honing his skills and getting more familiar with the local ecosystem. However, over the last 3 to 4 years the freedom and flexibility have dwindled. With the birth of his son Gabriel in the Spring of 2008 and career change in 2010 fishing the flats had taken a few hits in prioritized time. In the last year and half nearly every Saturday has been spent working, and time with family and fish have been increasingly neglected.
To make a year and a half long story short, Court and his better half, Meredith, decided to make a bold change for the benefit of the family by switching roles. Court has put his job on hold for the Summer to engage and teach Gabriel in an outdoor preschool setting while Meredith furthers and cultivates her career on a full-time basis. They feel that this opportunity will greatly benefit the family in the long-term, and this time spent on the Gulf of Mexico will be the bricks and mortar in Gabriel's foundation.
Featured curriculum of Court's "Tarpon Preschool" will include activities to instill and improve development in Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Hand-Eye Coordination, Environmental Science, Physical Education and Swimming. Their daily activities will be featured on the Tarpon Preschool blog. Take a look.
Mid 2016 change was brewing again. The family decided that it was time to make some changes in what we do and why we do them. Meredith launched Dunedin Soap Company in January of 2017 and Court began sharing his love for fishing with others.