Middle Keys - Fly Fishing Guide Experience
I don't post here, but I do search here frequently to read guide recommendations. I wanted to post my experience in the Middle Keys so someone doesn't have the same issues I had.
I planned a trip to the Middle Keys in early March, so I started looking into guides back in December. I came across Capt Brandon Henley (http://flyfishingthefloridakeys.com/), and it looked promising. I called Brandon and had a decent discussion and he seemed knowledgeable, so I sent him $150 and booked two days the first week of March.
A few days prior to fishing, I was getting excited for the trip so I reached out to Brandon a couple of times via text and phone to get some details on the trip (meeting place, time, gear, etc) and to see how the fishing had been...but it was radio silence. Finally, at about 6 PM the night before the first guided day I'm able to speak with Brandon. We work out meeting location, gear, and time and everything seemed set. About 15 minutes later he texts me that he "forgot" that he had a Coast Guard physical the next day and could no longer take me. He wanted me to go with one of his guide buddies. A quick internet search and one of the first results is his mugshot for felony abuse and obstruction...not really a guy I want to be fishing with. I tell Brandon that wasn't the deal and that I'm not going to go with the other guide. He is cordial and says he'll refund my deposit.
Fast forward to a couple weeks later and I still haven't received the refund. I reach back out to him and again he promises to send the money back. Two days later, still no luck. I reach back out to him and then he becomes hostile...telling me to "Go **** myself" and that I'm an "arrogant prick." He's now refusing to refund my money. For clarity, after I texted the second time about the deposit he texted back a story that his wife died of an overdose and his young son is keeping him busy (something I sympathize with, but not a reason for stealing money). It also appears that may be a complete fabrication based on his social media posts.
I would highly recommend folks staying away from Brandon; he has a reputation with other guides of being like this. For me, it's not the $150 (although I really think he should refund it) he put a huge damper on a trip I was really excited for.
On the other hand, Capt Todd Zeils was over the top exceptional, and really came through in a pinch. He took me out on his day off after the plans with Brandon fell through, and then lined up another guide (Capt Dale Bishop) for the second day who was equally as professional and a great dude/fisherman.