POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Love, respect, patience, discipline are all qualities necessary to be successful out on the water.

What You Need To Know

“It’s really exciting because I never really catch fish,” said 14-year-old Deimaris Barlow.

They’re also qualities Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says are needed to be successful when connecting with the community.

“I think it’s important that we build friends from the beginning. One of my quotes is, ‘You can never build trust during a riot. You can never build friendships during a riot,’” said Judd.

On the surface, of course, the goal is to catch a fish. 

But if you dive a little bit deeper, you’ll realize it’s really about the learning experience that both the kids and the deputies are taking away.

“Well if you can’t build relationships around fishing, then you can’t build relationships,” said Judd.

Spread apart while building strong bonds, kids got the chance to get out of the house for one of the first times in months due to the pandemic and hang one-on-one with the deputies, talking shop, of course.

“They taught me you’re supposed to wait for the worm to sink to the bottom. And that you’re supposed to play with the fish, act like it’s living. That’s what really gets the fish biting,” said Barlow.

But they also reeled in inspiration.

“I think it’s cool [the sheriff’s office is doing this] and I came here today because I actually want to be one when I grow up,” said Barlow.

And that may be the biggest catch of all.

“So you learned about more than just fishing today?” Bay News 9 reporter Ashley Paul asked.

“Yeah, I learned a lot more,” said Barlow.