Loss of a Legend part 1
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Last week, March 11, we lost a dear friend and the Tampa Bay fishing community lost a true legend. Jon West was a very young 46 years of age when he lost a year long battle with cancer, and even as I type these words it seems so very odd to think of Jon losing any battle. He was a big man and a serious opponent, especially if you were a fish...and if you were a fish, you wouldn't have a chance in Honolulu of beating him!
Like many people in the Tampa Bay area, Jon was known as a writer first. But many also knew of Jon as supreme deckhand for Capt. Dave Mistretta on the Jaws Too, the first real skipper I ever fished with. Then Jon as Capt. Jon, running his own rig, Junior a.k.a. Jaws Jr. It all seems a little fuzzy now, but one thing is very clear...it was Jon West the writer/journalist that first inspired me to be a better and more informed fisherman. It wasn't all of the great pictures and many many articles of fishing that made me subscribe to the Florida Sportsman magazine for years. It was the 'local area' reports only sometimes written by Jon, but when Jon West wrote, I read. That was over 20 years ago.
Over the years of fishing in the same areas as Jon, and having the same passion for King fishing, it was not uncommon to see him throwing a cast net at 4 a.m. underneath the old Sand Key bridge, or running into him at a tournament Captains meeting. Even more common was seeing him at the weigh-ins with the Jaws Too team...on the leader board, usually at the top! Heck, we even ran into each other at a Tom Petty concert in Tampa one night. That night Jon was sitting behind us and tapped me on the shoulder and offered me a smoke, I couldn't say 'no', he knew we were familar with each other but had no idea how excited I was to be having a conversation with 'the' Jon West. Ask my wife(girlfriend then), I was like a school girl that just met Bon Jovi or something. That was just the beginning.
Fast forward to 2003 when I bought the old Jaws Too from Capt. Dave and started Jawbreaker fishing charters. After 7 years of living the dream and having a few different deckhands, in 2010 I was looking for a new mate...guess who applied for the job? Yep, the man himself..Jon West.
Please re-visit our reports in a few days for a continuation of my memories of Jon West. Happy Fishing, Capt.Dan
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