In 2015 we held an event at the Key West Harbour Yacht Club. Invites went out, we publicized it in local magazines a radio shows. Social Media. Businesses, artist like Caleb Goins, friends of the Foundation like Jim Strickland photography, and Chasin Fin made the way down. Fish For Jose is about celebrating who he was, and what he believed in. His birthday, January 18 seemed like an appropriate day, but unbeknownst to us it was during the playoffs, and we didn’t have a TV. We decided to move the event so we didn’t have to compete with football.
A few months prior I had talked to Tony Murphy at the Square Grouper (my dad’s favorite restaurant) during the dedication of “Jose Wejebe’s Private Party Room.” Tony is fellow guide and friend of my fathers who owns Saltwater Angler. It is located on the water next to the Westin in Key West, and offers a great view to watch the sun set. From day one Tony has had a strong presence with the Foundation and wanted to do a little something at the shop. The date was set for January 29.
Together Tony, and I brainstormed on what we wanted this event to be. “Lets just keep it very Jose.” The concept of “Fish for Jose” is doing something he would do, and to keep his memory alive. You don’t even necessarily have to fish. You could watch South Park for Jose, or eat Sushi for Jose. Fish for Jose at Saltwater Angler was more about comradery of the Florida Keys fishing folks. Tony would donate 10% of sales for 3 days, and provide an open bar. Caleb Goins sent me a text of a striking Wahoo canvas print, and asked if I could use it for anything. $20 for one or 6 for $100 raffle it was, and they sold effortlessly.
Jose fished in an era where there were very few fishermen in the Keys. Tony said on his interview for the Celebration Season of Spanish Fly “There is no doubt in my mind that Jose put the Keys on the map for fishing.” The guides in the Keys fished along side with, learned from, or were inspired by Jose. Listening to the different generations of fishermen share their stories about Jose was fascinating. To the younger generation Jose was an icon, a legend. For them to hear stories from the older generation gave them a different perspective. Jose was just another guide, trying to make a living, provide for his family, and create a name for himself.
Kenny Harris and my dad fished side by side in the 80s, and if you want to hear some classic Jose stories he was your guy. From high fiving a humpback whale, to fighting a Bluefin Tuna in a tropical storm those two grew up together. Then there are guides that were mentored by Jose like Rush Maltz, and Steve Rogers. Both now have their very own shows! And then there is the new generation of guides like Brandon and Jared Cyr, Chris Mendola, and of course my husband David Moloney. They grew up watching the Jose, and his passion for fishing inspired them to make the move into the business.
When I first got there Steve came up to me to give me a hug. Mind you its been a few years since I last saw him, and he didn’t have a crazy beard. So here’s this guy with this gnarly beard giving me a big hug, and I have no clue who it is. Later on I asked Tony if Steve was here. He laughed and said “Steve, you, and myself were talking over there for over 20 minutes. Did you not recognize him with the beard?”
Tim Ott from Wicked Tuna came by on a walk with his pups. I asked him if he wanted to buy a raffle ticket. He said sure, gave me a $100 bill, and told me not to worry about the tickets. Just to take it as a donation. “What are you raffling off?” I pointed to Caleb’s print. Tim took out another $100, and said, “Actually I will take the tickets.” This is a new medium for Caleb, and I know that this kid is going to be a star in the fishing art community.
Walking through the crowd I could hear people sharing the “Remember that time” Jose stories. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get knowing that our family is not the only people that miss him. Tony had to close up shop, but not before we pulled the raffle for Caleb’s piece. I pulled the ticket and announced the winner. As soon as I said “Cheyenne” I heard Brandon Cyr say it was rigged. Turns out Cheyenne is Tony’s sons girlfriend.
After the event I was talking to Bear Holeman, and he said how nice it was to see everyone, and that Jose is the perfect reason for taking a step back from every day hustle and enjoy the moment with great people. Tony and I followed up the following week, and together with the sales in the shop ($3000) combined with the raffle ticket sales we raised $4610 with absolutely no cost to the Foundation! A big thank you for all those that came, and shared the day for “Fish For Jose.” Make sure you leave some time open late January 2017. We will have a date for you soon, and remember you can #fishforjose any day!