Captain Mike Wilbur


I was one of those young kids - growing up with shotguns and fly rods in the trunk of my car - who was always looking for a secluded farm pond or a field of pheasants on the way to school. My interests were history, geography and politics and my plan was to head to law school. 

There was just one problem…that plan interfered with my outdoor life and required wearing a tie. 

Moving to Key West in the early 70s put me in, or on, the water most days—scuba diving, snorkeling and of course, fishing. While snorkeling the reefs, inshore basins and channels running through the flats of Key West I was always searching for dinner—snappers, lobster, Grouper. 

Along the way, I learned Permit liked to school where there were small crab and shrimps washing from the flats and basins. Tarpon would frequent sandy holes with ledges holding fish and crab that they could casually dine on as they cruised. 

I found tarpon mid-summer lying in the backcountry basins nearly in the turtle grass even though the shallow water approached 95 degrees. Apparently gleaning oxygen from the grass and rising every 30-40 minutes to take cooling air into the ancient organ air bladder. Comfortable in their slumber they will take a fly or small crab if quietly dangled in front of their large faces. 

Permit and Bonefish do not live on the flats but are everywhere, just visiting for lunch. Watching the terns diving into the schools of glass minnows on a calm flat and wakes of Permit and Bonefish in pursuit you learn shrimp, crabs and small shellfish are not the only items on the menu. 

When you find the Tarpon joining the action...hold on to your rod! This sort of "guppy hatch" can be very exciting (and exhausting). 

This has been a wonderful life and my only passion all of my adult life. I have friends from all over the world and I consider this the best job on the planet.  

Mike Wilbur