Captain Bill Welder
Captain Bill Welder, who for well over 20 years fished his 21' Parker, the "Keyed Up", out of Cudjoe Key, passed away Saturday, January 4, 2020, after a tenacious and stubborn fight with lung cancer. He is survived by his dear wife, Gail, an incredibly strong woman. To most people, Bill was known as "mother", and if you had the pleasure of knowing him, you know why.
I first met Bill in the very 2000s, and over the years my family fished with him more times than I can count. He was a great fisherman, and almost everything I know about salt water fishing I learned from him. But more than that, he was a wonderful story teller, often recounting hilarious stories of fish caught, mishaps and memorable customers, more than few of whom (me included) were on the receiving end of Bill's sharp tongue after not following instructions. For Bill, it was always about the client, and making sure they had a memorable experience. He couldn't guarantee fish, but he never failed to deliver a great time. His "full day" charter was never less than 10 hours, and often approached 12.
I think Bill enjoyed teaching children about fishing more than anything else. Bad weather forced a cancellation of the very first trip I booked with him, but he invited my son and me over to his home and gave us some tips, including where to anchor up in Bow Channel to try to catch a tarpon. That evening, my 9 year and I did exactly as he suggested. My son caught a tarpon, and was hooked on fishing from that moment on. My daughter became so skilled from fishing with Bill over those many years that she routinely out-fishes the rest of the family, and is "in charge" on all of our fishing trips.
Above all else, Bill was a true friend. Problems and unplanned issues often arise over the course of a 2-3 week vacation in the keys. Regardless of the problem I had, Bill always "knew a guy" who could help me. From trailer or motor issues to unlocking a bedroom door the kids had locked from the outside, Bill never failed to help me get out of a jam.
My kids are adults now, but my wife and I will continue to vacation in the Keys every year. The kids and their spouses/SOs will drop in for several days when possible. We will visit Gail, and her kids/grand kids if they are there. Nothing meant more to Bill than his family.We will all miss Captain Bill, and be forever thankful for the times we had and the memories made with him. He was one of the good ones.