Jose Wejebe, a renowned Florida Keys guide in the 1980s and 90s who went on to become the popular host of the television series “Spanish Fly,” died Friday afternoon when his kit plane crashed into a field near the runway shortly after take-off from Everglades Airpark in Everglades City on the southwest coast of Florida.
I guided in the same waters as Jose for many years, sharing clients and contesting territory on the Florida Keys flats, and before he ever became a fishing “personality” he was a dedicated and very talented fishing guide who loved fish and fishing as much as anyone I’ve ever met. Jose had a tremendous instinct for finding fish and for ensuring that his clients had the best opportunities to catch them. He was a master of tackle, knots and techniques—something the average Saturday-fishing-show devotee, who only saw his insight into fish and his ability to communicate the wonders of their behavior, might never have discovered.
In the past several years his interest in building and flying kits planes consumed most of his free time. This is a picture of the kit plane in which he died. Witnesses say the plane appeared to have been caught in a crosswind during takeoff.
I will personally remember Jose as part of a friendly rivalry that taught me part of what it meant to be a professional guide, and as someone who sought to transcend the role of a fishing guide with only a select clientele and share his deep knowledge with the world. The fishing world has suffered a great loss with his passing.