January 2018

January 8th, 2018

Often I find it difficult to find a topic to begin a blog because I am technically writing about the future with the knowledge of what is currently happening.  The fishing is pretty good, so maybe a local status update and some operational information would be most helpful.  Fishing report at the end.

Certainly you are all aware we had a historic cat 4 hurricane roll through here less than 4 months ago.  The Keys are open and generally speaking we are doing pretty well.  Almost everything is open or operational to varying degrees.  It is all going to be rebuilt to better than it was before, but it will be a lengthy, tedious, exhausting process.  Locally, we understand the importance of tourism to our economy and we have collectively done the best job humanly possible to be open and presentable for our vacationers in time for peak season, which is now.  Our visitors are returning and life is inching back to what our normal used to be.  The difference this year is there is less everything for more people.  Think about it for a minute.  Less homes for residents, less vacation rentals and hotels for visitors, less grocery stores, less beaches and attractions…just less of everything across the board.  Not a problem at all if it is approached correctly with a little planning and the right attitude.

Everything in life that has value is generally earned.  If it is easy, has been handed to you as free or you have no respect for it, it possibly has little value to you personally.  When it comes to making a life on an island or on the ocean, nothing is easy, nothing is free and very little is handed to you.  Everything in my life matters to me, perhaps more to me because it was earned with great effort and risk.  This is relevant because there are also qualities that make a huge difference in the type of visitors we have or the type of guests I host on my boat.  Believe me, there are plenty of bad visitors here and plenty of bad guests on my boat.  A little common sense and common courtesy go a loooong way.  Christmas week brought me a lot of problems.  The type and degree that if Christmas week were my normal, I would quit and do something else.  I had customers not show up at all, show up late, show up flu sick(which got me really sick), show up completely unprepared without any thought put into what they were about to do, show up with surprise medical conditions to me from broken bones to not being able to lift up a leg up a 6″ step, and customers just not having any ability to follow basic 3 step instructions that are repeated over the entirety of the trip.  If this is how we start a trip, what do you expect from me?  I make this really, really easy for my guests.  The whole experience is designed to be easy.  I have a system for everybody to be successful and have a good time.  I call it a recipe.  Think of it as making cookies.  Recipes work, but if you change the recipe by throwing sand in the bowl instead of sugar or you take sugar totally out of the recipe, then the cookies are not what they should be.  I don’t know how to explain it any easier than that, but it has been a sandy cookie couple of weeks.  Communicate with me, act like an adult, prepare for your trip, read the information I have provided on my website and it all goes according to plan every time.  My trips are fun and I like to have fun on my trips.  The weather or the fish, tide or trip logistics should be the big challenge, but it’s my guests on board that are the wild card of all the variables.  If you feel no responsibility to prepare for a trip with me, don’t book a trip with me.  If you are sick, your body is broken or the difference between left/right open/closed confuses you, I suggest you stay on land.  Every one can be on a boat, but being on a boat is not for everybody.  I named my business Florida Keys Reel Adventures because on my boat you are really participating and performing the actions that make the experience have value.  There are many different types of charter services out there that are for most every type of person.  On my trips you are communicating with me, receiving instruction, participating in the action and are in a learning environment from the time you show up until you walk away to your car.  It is crystal clear to me that this is not for everyone and this is sometimes misunderstood.  Final point on this topic..I have approximately 800-1,000 people I have never met on my boat every year.  I generally get 4 hours with these people to make a lot of different activities happen to their liking despite anything.  I’m doing this on a medium small boat in the ocean in all conditions.  I am not a mind reader, a psychic, can not hear your whisper conversations behind my back nor can I be your therapist for whatever personal issues you have.  If you do not have the ability to communicate with me a issue that can be resolved on board in real time and choose to be a very vocal minority of your issues or misinterpretations of a reality you do not understand, please realize you are doing a double wrong.  You are in the wrong for not giving me the information that could have made a positive difference in your trip.  You, the customer, will always be in the wrong if you have the nerve to critique how I fish on my boat when your family caught a ton of fish.  I recently received a negative trip advisor review for a family trip of 6.  They caught a ton of fish and had a good time.  I had no voice, so it was a difficult trip not being able to explain everything in detail as I do.  They were not good listeners, which is very common.  My rods were being damaged through improper use and my fishing line on 2 reels were damaged, which I needed on my next trip immediately after theirs.  The Mom didn’t fish and a child had a big cast on his broken finger and could not operate the reel to participate in fishing.  In this poor review I was misquoted in my description of the fishery as I instructed them of the operational concept of how the fish feed to misquotes of how and what the purpose of my systems and equipment in place is for.  Of course, it was all biased from a negative perspective, when the reality was I was teaching them with no voice at all and incorporating hand signals and body language to compensate for the words that couldn’t come out of my mouth.  I was completely satisfied with the whole trip,but I felt bad for the kid that COULDN’T fish.  He didn’t complain at all and I felt compassion for him.  The mom didn’t fish, so I gave them a $100 discount.  My choice.  It was Christmas eve and 2/6 people didn’t fish and I only charged them for a trip for 4 people.  That will never ever happen again ever for any reason.  Never ever ever.  To have this guy take the time to go out of his way despite all the good that happened on his particular trip tells you what my reality has been.  I encourage ALL of my customers to write social reviews of their experience.  If that happened, I would have about 6,000 or more reviews.  Be careful when you expose your wealth of ignorance of your experience when you just didn’t understand what was happening.  I too make mistakes and not every trip is great for whatever reason.  If you had a safe and successful trip and I worked in every way to make that possible, maybe a good tip is how you should finish the trip if it is obvious I went above and beyond to make to a good trip despite you being there.  Some people are assholes, end of story.  Speaking of assholes, please be kind and thoughtful on your time here on our island.  Keep in mind you are visiting a place where there is a lot of hurt, heart ache and very difficult situations.  What I hear and see from visitors this year is salt in fresh wounds.  Dial back your standards and expectations and cut each other some slack.  We are in an exceptional situation.  Open your heart and your mind and practice some exceptional behavior that benefits us all.  It is all too easy to identify an accent or a license plate with a negative situation and it creates a divide and a bias that will not work out well for anybody.  Act like a guest and you will be treated as one.  The Keys need good guests now more than ever!!  Please don’t let these words go to waste.

Fishing since Hurricane Irma has been exceptional.  There are far fewer boats out there fishing in combination with a seasonally changing fishery.  This makes for great diversity and an abundance of opportunities for anglers .  Coming off the coldest air mass we have seen in 3 years, the water is a little cold.  Actually it’s pretty darn cold inshore, but it hasn’t slowed the catching much.  Despite the winds, we have been fishing the close to shore ocean patch reefs a mile or so off the beach in reasonable sea conditions.  It has been a pick of having to weed through lots of smaller fish, but the catch has been very mixed with plenty of medium and big fish to keep it really interesting.  Lots of bent rods, challenging fights and plenty to take home for dinner each trip.  The weather ultimately dictates what we can do and where we can fish, but it has been all good.  Keep in mind this is our windy time of the year, so plan your trip with me early in your stay in case the wind forces me to reschedule your trip for a better day.  Also, pull up our local wind forecast if you are making a last minute booking.  As a helpful guideline, any wind speed over 15 miles per hour is going to compromise the quality of your trip.  If your booking is advanced, watch the trend as your trip approaches.  Show some interest in your day by watching what the forecast shows for your day on the water.  Communicate with me and we can get it moved to the best available date to give you the best trip possible.  Makes sense, right?

In the water activities are a total gamble.  January doesn’t look promising for snorkeling or spearing.  Not to say it isn’t possible, but we need conditions to improve, warm up and clear up and remain steady to have a realistic chance to put something on the books.  Because of the compromised complications of booking these trips, ALL IN THE WATER TRIPS booked will go as planned.  All attempts will be made to make the booked trip successful.  If the conditions are not appropriate or do not support the trip being successful, the trip will operate as a rod and reel fishing trip or alternate activity appropriate for the conditions or to your satisfaction.  Your other choice will to be to forfeit your deposit if this is not acceptable.  Local dive and snorkel shops are currently in critical financial stress or going out of business due to the length of poor conditions that have been mostly present since the storm.  I will not go out of business, so we are going in some way, shape or form.  I’m going to make this work and your cooperation and understanding is appreciated.

I’m going to pass on posting trip pictures for this report.  This is long enough, perhaps too long.  Fishing is good.  Things here are good.  I post trip reports and current updates on my Facebook page at Florida Keys Reel Adventures.  Arm your self with the available information and be good guest.  Hopefully your visit to the Keys gives you some perspective of appreciation of what you have in your life.  Hopefully I’ll see you soon on the water!

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