Humble Beginnings

I feel like an old man writing this post, but at 23 years old I don't think that's necessarily the case. I consider myself a seasoned fishermen, but not an old one...although my back will often say otherwise. I remember joining the Florida Sportsman Forums roughly 10 years ago. Back in the days when Shane Edgar, David McCleaf, and Doug? were probably around my age, and were taking far better photos back then than I am capable of today! The days when Voltman was hosting an annual FS Tournament in SWFL, and social media was for high school girls. Those sure were the days.

Shane, David, and Doug really started my fascination of fishing Pine Island Sound for tailing redfish. Back then I was nothing but a river rat fishing the Caloosahatchee from my buddy's 10' Boston Whaler. We used to catch some pretty serious fish outta that little dinghy. Big snook, redfish, jack crevalle, and the occasional tarpon; and then these guys started posting pictures of skinny water redfish tailing like crazy in Pine Island Sound. I mean we thought we had it made until we saw the crystal clear water, endless grass flats, and BIG redfish in their pics. That's when I came to realize there was so much more out there when it came to fishing. This wasn't just something us kids did in the backyard to pass the time, shoot this was a worldwide sport and for many a way of life! Guys like Flip Pallot, Jose Wejebe, and Rick Murphy traveled the world to fish and share their adventures on TV with all of us. Shoot man. I was hooked.

I remember Voltman putting on a Florida Sportsman Winter Classic out of Weak's Fish Camp in Estero Bay. It was the first tournament I ever fished. Back then my pops would let me and my buddies take out his 19’ Tidewater Bay Boat between the US 41 and Midpoint Bridges. My river rat buddies and I loaded up the Tidewater and hit it hard in the river. We penned up whitebait and blue crabs the night before, and put an absolute whoopin' on the fish. It was a six fish tournament: two redfish, two snook, and two trout. We had our redfish and snook by 10 AM, but had to work hard to get our trout. Our final fish was a 13” trout caught idling into the channel at the weigh in, which was enough to put us in 3rd place. Weak’s was about 30 miles one way from the Midpoint Bridge. Sorry pops, but that was one heck of a good time! And the start of what has become a very integral part of my life.

Things haven’t changed much for me. I live to fish! I’ve won many tournaments and a few angler of the year awards around the state; started and helped run a tournament in high school: the Red Knight Home Run Club Fishing Tournament; worked as the marketing intern for Hell’s Bay Boatworks; operated a website that was all about fishing:; and today I am very proud to say I am Co-Founder (and CEO if you will) of Florida Fishing Products.

Now this isn’t to boast, but more so an appreciation post. I’ve been very fortunate to experience a lot in the past ten years, and owe much of it to the Florida Sportsman Fishing Forum and all of you who have kept it rolling all these years. I started from very humble beginnings as a river rat, and now I’m living the dream! I forgot to mention I've met some amazing anglers along the way! Here's to ten more years!
Instagram: ShallowWaterz


Sign In or Register to comment.