The Conservation Captain for March 2016 is Capt. Dave Denkert out of Islamorada, Florida. Captain Dave has been involved in a number of BTT research projects throughout the years including the Everglades National Park mapping project, bonefish tagging, bonefish genetics sampling and our recent logbook program.
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT): Where do you guide and how long have you been guiding for?
Capt. Dave Denkert (DD): South Florida and the Keys since 1994.
BTT: How did you become a fishing guide?
DD: I passed the Coast Guard test, But seriously – a long time fishing buddy, Rick Berry, convinced me to get my captain’s license so I could guide him in a local tournament.
BTT: How many days per year do you guide?
DD: Around 240 days.
BTT: What species do most of your clients want to fish for. Why?
DD: Most of my clients want to fish for tarpon on fly. I think a lot of the enthusiasm stems from our locale- it’s easy to get to the Keys. And when you get here, you fish for trophy fish, sleep in a comfortable place and eat good food in a beautiful setting.
BTT: ell us about how your fishery used to be, compared to today. (Numbers of fish caught, seen, number of anglers on the water, etc.)
DD: Across all species, there used to be a lot more fish and a lot less anglers.
BT: In your opinion, what is the most important conservation issue facing the flats fisheries right now and what can be done to help fix it?
DD: I think a lack of food is a major issue. We need more baitfish, shrimp and crabs. We need to regulate the forage base. No food, no fish.
BTT: Despite some of the negative things happening to our fishery, why do you love it so much?
DD: Love it? I like fishing, I love my wife. Fishing the flats doesn’t get old. Site casting to target species keeps you 100% engaged, all day. How many recreational activities offer that much entertainment?
BTT: Why do you support Bonefish and Tarpon Trust?
DD: That’s simple: I believe in what they’re doing.
BTT: In your opinion, what is the most important work that BTT does and why?
DD: Bonefish recruitment and retention. How do we get them here and how do we keep them here?
BTT: Why should a fisherman that doesn’t live in Florida or the Caribbean care about BTT?
DD: BTT is working to conserve a unique fishery that’s easily accessible. We can’t risk losing vital habitats and world-renowned fishing.
BTT: You have the day off. What species are you going to fish for, where are you going to find them, and how are you going to catch them.
DD: Bonefish on fly and anywhere from Biscayne Bay to Key West (I don’t mind traveling a couple hours up or down the road).
BTT: Tell us one of your favorite fishing stories.
DD: It was the Redbone series of 2014. During the October Baybone tournament, we were fishing on the oceanside of Islamorada. My angler lost my home-built, custom spinning rod with a Stella reel over the side of the boat (and I really liked that rod for bonefishing). Thirty days later in the final tournament of the series, the Redbone tournament, none other than my son-in-law found the outfit a mile and a half away on the bayside – it went through the bridge! What are the odds of actually finding the rod?, two the person that finds it is someone you know? The rod and reel were in great shape and it’s still one of my favorite spinning outfits.
NOTE: Featured Image of tarpon – BTT image.
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