TALLAHASSEE (AP) - Fresh from a tour of the Florida Panhandle, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday joked about a whopper of a fish story he told while promoting the region's recovery from last year's devastating oil spill and kidded about his fear of alligators.
The governor gave employees of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission a light-hearted rundown on his Panhandle trip earlier this week during a visit to the agency's headquarters.
While touring from Panama City to Pensacola, Scott caught fish, ate seafood, walked on the beach in his cowboy boots and shopped for an anniversary gift for his wife, Ann.
"I caught a 40-inch redfish," Scott recalled. "On national TV I did say '40 foot.' And somebody corrected me."
Scott, though, said it still was the biggest fish he'd ever caught.
The tour, which included frequent stops for media interviews, was designed to spread the word that the fishing is good, the seafood is safe and the beaches are clear of oil from BP's Deepwater Horizon well, which exploded a year ago this week in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana.
Scott said Florida's the perfect place for outdoor activities such as bird watching, fishing, hunting and just communing with nature.
"My least favorite though is our alligators," Scott acknowledged. "I don't want to be close to them that much."
He later added, though, that he'd be "receptive" to shooting one if that would help promote Florida.
Employees gathered outside the commission's Tallahassee headquarters to meet with the Republican governor, a former hospital chain CEO. Scott has been making similar visits to various state agencies since taking office in January.
One staffer asked Scott if his 82-year-old mother, Esther Scott, who campaigned for him last year but then went back home to Kansas City, Mo., would be moving to Florida.
That gave Scott an opening to crack wise again.
"For my wife, remember, she's a mother-in-law, but she's a wonderful person," Scott said. "She of course wondered what part of the (governor's) mansion she'd have to move to. ... My wife said she'd get back to her on that."
Scott, though, said his mother, who is recovering from hip surgery, may be making frequent visits to Florida but plans to continue living in Kansas City where she's near other family members.