Review by Steve Raymond
Wilderness Adventures Press
45 Buckskin Rd.
Belgrade, MT 59714
Skip the first half of this book and go right to page 182. That’s where you’ll find the beginning of Capt. Ben Taylor’s thorough description of how to fish the Florida Keys.
Taylor starts with the ”Northern Fringe Keys” and works south through Key Largo, Islamorada, the Everglades, the middle Keys, the lower Keys and Key West (including the Marquesas and Dry Tortugas), throwing in a brief appraisal of the Florida Keys National Marine Wildlife Sanctuary for good measure. He describes angling opportunities and seasons in each area, as well as provides charts showing local water depths, locations of boat launches, flats, shoals and other features.
Taylor also lists addresses and phone numbers for accommodations, restaurants, fly and tackle shops, boat rentals, marinas, fishing guides and other services in each area – in other words, everything you need to plan a fishing trip to the Keys.
He also covers ”light tackle,” which means lots of words about bait and spin fishing. But don’t worry; you can always hide the book until the kids are in bed and read it then.
Oh, yeah, about those first 181 pages. They’re worth reading, too, offering descriptions of Keys game fish, recommended tackle, stuff about flies and knots, tides and weather, tactics and presentation, and the like. But most of this information is readily available elsewhere, and it’s the enormously detailed description of the Keys that sets this book apart.
Taylor won’t win any blue ribbons for his prose, but his meaning is usually clear, except for his curious definition of the word ”fish” – ”The fish sought on a specific day are fish. If you’re fishing for tarpon, other species are identified individually. If you’re fishing for bonefish, they are fish, but tarpon are tarpon, barracudas are barracudas. Fish are the species you’re actually searching for at a given moment, unless you’re fishing for whatever will bite on a bait-type trip.” Oh sure, that explains it.
The book also features fish drawings by Duane Raver and numerous black-and-white photos of varying quality.
Still, these small flaws don’t count for much when you consider this guide’s value for Keys-bound anglers. Credit Capt. Ben Taylor with providing the key to the Florida Keys.