Who better to tell the history of Florida Bay (and its decline) than the fishing guides and anglers who know every square inch of it? This history and question is the focus of the film “Voices of the Florida Bay: Honoring Tradition, Guiding Conservation” created by Florida Bay Forever Save Our Waters, premiering virtually on Friday, March 26 at 6 p.m. 

The film is the culmination of an oral history project conducted in 2020 by the organization. “Florida Bay has seen so much devastation in recent decades, and the voices who have sounded the alarm again and again are fishing guides,” said executive director Emma Haydocy. “We wanted to celebrate the rich history of fishing in the Florida Keys and honor the contributions of the guide community to protecting Florida Bay.”

The premiere will coincide with the launch of the oral history collection featuring interviews with legendary Florida Keys fishing guides and anglers, including: Stu Apte, Billy Knowles, Eddie Wightman, Rick Ruoff, Vic Gaspeny, Steve Huff, Tim Carlile, Tim and Robert Klein, Craig Brewer and Sandy Moret. 

The project was funded in part by grants from the Florida Humanities Council and the Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association. “The project is the historical record of the Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association and the tireless efforts of our members to preserve Florida Bay,” said Commodore Steve Friedman. “There have been so many instances where our knowledge of the bay has been ignored or diminished by water managers. It’s really special to be acknowledged and revered for the part we continue to play in the fight for clean water and a restored Florida Bay.”

The feature film runs for about 45 minutes and documents the history of Florida Bay and its decline, and is a call-to-action for modern stakeholders and residents to stewardship for Florida Bay. The screening will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 26th on Zoom. Immediately following the film, there will be a panel discussion on conservation and Florida Bay, moderated by Emma Haydocy and featuring current voices in the guide community: Commodore Steve Friedman, Captain Paul Tejera, and Captain Mark Krowka. 

Tickets are available at www.floridabayforever.org/voices for a suggested donation starting at $25. All proceeds will benefit Florida Bay Forever Save Our Waters. For more information contact: [email protected] or call 786-572-7051.

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