|Capt. Franco Gonzales with a big african pompano caught off Mosquito Pier, Vieques, PR.|
|Ensenada Honda, Vieques.|
When I first started fishing off Key West in the early-90s there were about twenty five full time flats guides on the island. Most were indifferent at best to a newcomers like myself. A few of them welcomed me like bad news after a colonoscopy. One notoriously short tempered veteran even threatened me with an ass-kicking after I got too close to him on a huge tarpon flat. I apologized profusely back at the dock and then pointed out to this particular vodka-sponge that, while I could probably use a good ass-kicking, I was twenty years younger and twenty pounds heavier than he was, and I didn't appreciate his way of "educating" me on the water. We settled on an uneasy truce after that. I never crowded him again and he never spoke to me again. Win, win.
|Key West, the end of the road.|
|Bonefishing at Purple Beach, Vieques.|
So long story short: Franco took me out the next day, showed me the entire south side of Vieques, including his two most productive tarpon bays, and hooked me into my first Puerto Rican bonefish within five minutes of stepping onto his favorite flat in Ensenada Honda. I wrote a deposit check for a house later that day.
|Ensenada Honda bonefish.|
Over the next few years we saw a big increase in tourism on Vieques and our two boats became a necessity on several occasions when groups of anglers would visit. In 2007 a New York Times article profiled both Franco and myself and business really took off. Our guide services complimented each other for the most part and my wife and I really benefited from having Franco as a friend down there.
|Capt. Franco and one of his clients with the first permit ever caught on fly in Puerto Rico.|
Tight lines, Franco. See you soon.