Fly Fishing Florida KeysFlorida Keys Video

Its easy to find a fishing guide in the Florida Keys but hard to find a good fishing guide in Florida Keys. There is an old saying that goes something like this, “10% of fisherman catch all the fish.” I think the same is true for fishing guides, “10% of fishing guides catch all the fish.” Oh sure, there are lots of pretty guide brochures, lot’s of talk and lots of nice websites online. Many of these marketing materials are perfect for the average tourist who wants to do a day of fishing in The Sunshine State. After all, Florida is the home of Disney World and many tourists see a fishing trip as just another ride. There is nothing wrong with this and many guides do a great job of servicing the average tourist who is happy catching anything or even nothing at all. With a slogan like, “The Sport Fishing Capital Of The World” – its no wonder that fishing is and has historically been big business in the Florida Keys. I think of it kind of like “the major leagues” in baseball. Just like baseball, many saltwater fishing guides want and try to be in the big leagues. The difference with fishing is that there are no try-outs or anything like that. For all practical purposes, any fisherman can enter “the big leagues” with nothing more than a captains license. And, they do. The Florida Keys, by nature, are a very transient place. It’s somewhat rare, to meet someone who is born and raised in the Florida Keys. Most people and guides are transplants from other places. And, its common to see guides towing flats boats with license plates from Montana, Idaho, Michigan etc.. Don’t get me wrong, some of those guides are probably really good. In fact, I know some are excellent keys guides because I am friends with some of them. But, there is something pretty cool and very similar about the 2 guides I fished with last time I was in the Florida Keys. One of them wasWill Benson, a shallow water fly fishing guide, born and raised on Sugarloaf Key. The other wasAugie Wampler, an offshore fishing guide, born and raised on Islamorada. I could go into all the fine details about what makes both of these guys such great fisherman, but I won’t. Because, for me, the tell-tale sign that these guys were great fisherman – had nothing to do with awards, credentials, tournament wins or any of those things that don’t impress me much anyway. From the moment I stepped on each of their boats, I could feel it in my gut that these guys were fisherman. And, my gut turned out to be right. Boz and I ventured way off-shore (1,000 feet of water or so) with Augie and it was nothing short of spectacular! Augie was thrilled that we were fly fisherman and, true to what he told us the day before, he found us countless schools of Mahi-Mahi. Boz and I were in blue water fly fishing heaven onboard “The Predator” and Augie would get just as amped up as us when he found the fish. Then, I really got lucky! My long time friend Dave Teper squeezed me onboard Capt. Will Benson’s flats boat. Will and Dave had plans to film some permit fishing, Will wasn’t booked and it was a perfect day! Anyone who fishes the Keys, knows that “perfect days” are few and far between. To be honest, I felt kind of like I didn’t belong on the boat – but Dave assured me that it was totally cool. The plan was for me to film and Dave to fish, and I was way cool with that. Honestly, I was happy to just to be out there and see and learn how these guys fish. I had seen their Permit fly fishing films and Tarpon fly fishing films, so it was something of an honor just to be onboard and part of their crew. So, I set up with the camera and got ready to take a seat in the middle and chill out. Then, out of the blue, both Will and Dave say, “Jeremy, get up on the bow.” I really did not want to be up there on the bow, and I tried to get out of it – but they wouldn’t let me. Will takes his fishing very seriously, and he takes fishing the fly on the flats to a whole new dimension. There is a right and wrong way to cast, strip and present the fly. So, I tried my best to fish like he showed me. I stripped line off my reel, stood on the bow, Will made a couple pushes with the pole and before I could even think I had a bonefish on my line. I released that fish and within a few minutes, I was hooked up to another bonefish. Dave got on the bow. Immediately, Will found some Permit and Dave had multiple shots. Then it was Tarpon time. Will handed me the 12 weight rod and before I knew it, I was surrounded by laid up tarpon. The fish were very tough to get to eat. I lined a few, spooked a bunch and my confidence was way down. Then, I pulled myself together. Will found the perfect fish. I made the perfect cast, or “buttered it in there” as Will likes to say. I made long, slow, even strips and watched a monster Tarpon turn on my fly and inhale it! I set the hook and I was in fly fishing heaven! To date, this was the best Florida Keys fly fishing trip I have ever had. So, if you are a fisherman (not just a tourist), and you find yourself in “The Sport Fishing Capital Of The World” – consider a day of flats fishing with Capt. Will Benson and a day Off-shore with Capt. Augie Wampler. These two guys are fisherman. Also, if you find yourself in the keys – you have to head down to Key West and experience Duval street. Exactly what you will experience, is anybodies guess! Watch the video that accompanies this article and you will see what I am talking about. Also, wanted to say thanks to Will’s parents for putting me up in “The Rat Hole Studio”, Denny for some great meals, Mitchell for taking me night tarpon fly fishing, Bill Houze and the rest of the World Angling crew for a great time – and for making me feel at home.