Rigs Guide: Lacey Kelly – Flylords Mag

Lacey Kelly is one of the worst guides we have ever had fun spending time with. Lacey is a full-time fishing and hunting guide from the Crystal River, Florida, which some might say is the last remaining area of ​​”Old Florida.” We had the privilege of spending a day on the bow of her boat in the historic waters of Homosassa to follow the great tarpon and most importantly learn more about what makes it sound.

Portrait of Lacey Kelley

After a fun day at the water, Lacey and I sat down to ask her about herself, fishing, the conservation issues she is passionate about, and her platform!

Flylords: When did you first get a fly rod? (any stories to get into fishing as well)

Lacey: Growing up in a family that did not push traditional sports. Instead, we were spear fishing and fishing every weekend. My parents threw me in the boat when I was 6 months old in my car seat! It was my whole childhood, no matter what age I was, it was a family thing for us. I finally chose to spend my adult days guiding and investing in fishing and hunting full time.

For fly fishing, I was in my 20s when I first got a fly rod. At the time I was a full-time conventional bait / gear guide in the Sanibel area of ​​Florida and was looking for the next challenge in the water.

Flylords: What was your journey to becoming a guide?

Lacey: I grew up mostly underwater and in the woods. My dad has been spearfishing all my life and still does some to this day, so we spent almost every weekend in spearfishing and fishing. When I finished high school, I went to college for Hospitality and Tourism Management, but I knew this was not my calling or what I intended to pursue as a career. I was definitely not cut out for office life or a 9-5, I tried briefly for a few short periods and I always knew that being a guide was my calling. I spent all my 20s guiding in the Sanibel, Captiva and Pine Island Sound areas. Fishing was my main concert, but I also did trips for sightseeing and shelling. I got into fly fishing and realized that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my guiding life! I found my so-called purpose and never went back.

Flylords: You spend almost every day either in the woods or on the water. How does your daily routine look to you?

Lacey: My daily routine varies from season to season.

Tarpon season: until 4:30 am, coffee, shower, email and customer reservations, etc., load the boat with ice, gas and accessories. Getting around 7am in Homosassa at the dock, poon guide all day, an old-fashioned Florida Cracker Monkey Bar with customers, wash the boat, dinner, emails and bed!

Turkey season: rises at 4 am, coffee, shower, email and customer reservations, etc., load the truck with turkey vest, phone calls, chairs, customer chairs, customer pick-up until 5:30 in the lodge, hunt until lunch, regroup, head head back, stay a bird, dinner with clients, email and bed!

General year-round fishing I wake up at 6:30 am, same as tarpon season, but location changes, I fish all the way from Homosassa North to Cedar Key.

Flylords: By spending a day in the water with you, you and some of the other guides like to worry, but also help each other. How would you describe the guiding culture around Homosassa?

Lacey: The guiding culture in Homosassa is the epitome of “Old Florida” to this day. It is the only place in Florida that I know that keeps it flying only during the tarpon season in tarpon flats. It is a difficult area to get into a guide as foreigners are not welcome. I have been fortunate to become friends with many OG guides in the area I have been looking for for years. It’s a small fishery and there is really no room for new guides until some of the older guides retire and do their best to protect it.

Drone shot of the boat

Flylords: Most people who fly fish, especially to Tarpon, know about Homosassa from the days of record-breaking in the ’80s and’ 90s. What was it like to call those waters at home?

Lacey: I wish I had been a fly in a boat in the ’80s and’ 90s just to see it once. One thing I love about sitting in Lorelei at Islamorada is being able to hear the stories of Old Homosassa from OG Key guides. Fairy tales may be as long as all the fish stories, but they still make me appreciate how lucky I am to call this fishing house nowadays. I’m not sure if I really believe tarpons eat scallops as Captain Billy Knowles claimed on a salty afternoon, but I learned a lot about what fishing once was and what we need to do to continue to protect it.

Flylords: Following this question cilat What conservation issues are you passionate about? Is there any organization you see making a difference in your fishing?

Lacey: Holding Florida, Florida. We have massive problems in our state mainly due to an influx of people moving to Florida every day. I’m a 5th generation Floridian and I’m heartbroken to see all the development going on in the last decade. We are solely responsible for the state of emergency in which we put our fishery and land now. Organizations like my friends at Captains For Clean Water and the Bonefish Tarpon Trust are doing their best to research not only how to better protect our water and our fishing, but are also raising awareness of our residents as well as young people moving in Florida. its big. I really believe most people who are moving here look around and think it’s great that fishing is great, but what they do not know is how much has changed and fallen.

Flylords: Tell me a little about your Rig!

Lacey: My daily driver is a 2017 Ford F-150. It’s essential to what I do every day whether it ‘s hunting or fishing season. To stay organized, I have a DECKED drawer system in bed to keep all my essentials for a successful guided trip organized. Behind my truck, I pull a Hellsbay Professional 2020 that is mounted with 70 horsepower and jeweled seats created for the comfort of the client. I can fish up to two fishermen and myself. Cheated with Gloomis Fly rods, Hatch coils, YETI coolers, everything on my boat is there for a reason and it has an ultimate purpose!

Flylords: Do you put your truck differently for turkey season versus tarpon season?

Lacey: It’s just a gear shift really. Tarpon Season I have cleaning equipment, boat brushes, towels, etc. DECKED toolboxes are great for keeping all the essential things on the boat organized. Turkey season I am in charge of chairs, needle chairs, turkey vests and calls, shotguns, etc. I’m a big fan of the Piecekeepers DECKED for hunting season to keep my shotguns and rifles safe when I’m traveling.

Flylords: Why did you choose a DECKED system for your truck?

Lacey: My lifestyle and travel. Most of the vehicles I travel with are valuable and making sure they are closed, away from anyone, is the best place for him. I used to have a truck top, but the problem with it was that it was impossible to see the boat trailer when I was pulling off the ramp at 5am. With the DECKED system, I organize all my safe devices, while I can also see through my rear view mirror.

Flylords: What’s next Lacey?

Lacey: I have been fortunate to manage and assist in running the Florida Outdoor Experience for almost a decade now and it is time for the next chapter. What the next chapter will look like, I can tell you after I finish knee rehabilitation due to 3 surgeries and lead full time. It has been a struggle to get back into groups and do a ton of physical therapy, but hopefully, next year, it will be better than ever!

Thank you Lacey for bringing us out for an extraordinary time! If you are looking to get your device called and organized like Lacey, be sure to check out the DECKED systems yourself HERE.

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