How long have you been guiding in the Keys?
I have been a full-time Keys guide for almost twenty years and have been fly fishing for over forty years.
Are you going to yell at me?
NO!!! I know this question may be surprising to some but it is one of the most frequently asked questions I get from customers. Fishing guides, and Keys fishing guides in particular, have a bad reputation for blowing up and going off on customers. In my book, that kind of behavior is inexcusable regardless of the mistakes an angler may make. For me, the point of this fly fishing thing is to have a good time, de-stress and hopefully put life into perspective for a little while. Anything that runs counter to that is defeating the purpose of being on the water.
What is it like to fish with you?
This may be too much for some but it’s said after a lifetime spent outdoors: I fully believe in the power Nature has to put us closer to our Creator. For me, the outdoors has always been my place of solace and a place where I feel God the most. Fly fishing is nothing more than a vehicle to get me there, and I am incredibly fortunate to be able to share the opportunity to do it with others. The point of fishing for me is about having the entire experience nourish the soul; a time for reflection and perspective and for looking at the world with a child’s eyes, while laughing and catching fish at the same time. If that sounds good to you, let’s go fishing! Having said that, if your fishing interests and goals are limited to your Instagram page, your Facebook Live Stream, a photo for your office desk, a bucket list species to check off, or the otoliths (ear bones) of a bonefish (or any fish for that matter) to make a necklace with, please do me the courtesy of choosing another guide.
When is the best time of year to fish?
Whenever you get the chance! That said, there are times of the year when certain species are less realistic targets with a fly because they are either a migratory species or are tougher to find due to water temperature. Wind and weather is always the determining factor when targeting fish with a fly but this especially true during our winter months. If you’re planning on coming during the winter months to escape colder northern climes being flexible in terms of what you’re fishing for is really the key to success.
Should I book more than one day?
I fully understand budgetary constraints when it comes to booking a fishing trip. It’s not cheap. The truth is if you can pull it off, booking multiple days only increases your odds. You never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at us and chances are we’re going to be dealing with something: wind, water temperature, cloud cover or fish with lockjaw. Booking multiple days only increases your chances of success.
Where do you leave from?
Plantation Yacht Harbor Marina located in Founder’s Park, Islamorada.
How can I prepare for my trip?
Stop watching fishing videos! They’re entertainment, not reality! Too many anglers come to the Keys with unrealistic expectations simply because they saw their favorite fishing TV host do it in a half hour. Trust me, it doesn’t happen that way.
Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice your casting and learn to do it in the wind. Whether throwing a crab to a permit with a spinning rod or chucking a fly at a tarpon, good casting skills are essential to angling success when sight fishing. For fly anglers, casts not only have to be made accurately but with minimal false casts as well. If you don’t know how to double haul, learn it or let me help teach you. Practicing your casting whether with a spinning rod or fly rod before a trip will pay huge dividends in the end. Believe me, you do not want to be facing down a string of one hundred pound tarpon while “getting the rust out” of your casting arm.
How far should I be able to cast a fly?
I get asked this one all the time, especially from trout anglers. For a general rule of thumb, 50 feet under all conditions. If your longest cast is 50 feet with no wind and you’re faced with 10 knots of headwind, you’re simply not going to be able to make the cast. Just as important is having the ability to cast accurately with minimal false casts. If you’ve never sight fished before you’ll be surprised at how fast everything can happen. With less than ideal visibility sometimes we’re not spotting fish until we’re on top of them. Having the ability to make a shot with minimal false casting can mean the difference between catching and not catching.
What’s your favorite thing to fish for?
Sight casting to big snook in clear, shallow water. There is nothing better in my book.
What’s your least favorite thing to fish for?
Big tarpon. Big tarpon fishing gets all of the hype but I think it’s completely overrated. There are far better things to fish for in my book.
Do you teach fly casting?
Yes. I’ve been fly fishing for over thirty years and taught fly casting for The Orvis Company. Whether you are a novice or simply want to hone your fly casting skills we can easily customize your trip to include fly casting instruction.
What should I bring?
I supply all tackle, licenses, bait and ice. You should bring polarized sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, camera, food, drinks and appropriate clothing. For the summer months long sleeved fishing shirts and pants will keep the sun off and provide some protection from biting insects. For the winter months a warm jacket is recommended.
Can I bring my own fishing gear?
If you are planning on bringing your own fishing gear let me know as some gear maybe inappropriate.