Sometimes truth really is more novel than fiction. In the story of Islamorada fishing guide Captain Ted Wilson, the truth is about resolve and dedication, as would be applied to his professional guiding career. You see, before Captain Ted would accept one penny from an angler for a fishing trip, he pledged to fish every single day for two years. And, as painful as it could be at times, especially with his captain’s license in hand, Wilson held to his convictions.
Over 20 years later, Captain Ted is recognized as one of the finest backcountry fishing guides in the Keys.
Born and raised in Cocoa, Florida, Captain Ted attended the University of North Carolina-Asheville, where he played soccer and earned an associates degree. Captain Ted was quickly drawn back to his Florida roots and finished his college career at the University of Florida, majoring in zoology in 1993.
Two days after graduation, Captain Ted moved to Islamorada, fully intending to become a full-time professional backcountry guide. It was then he made his pledge. He took a job at H.T. Chittum & Co., selling clothing and fine fishing tackle. Hal Chittum, an extraordinary guide himself, was one of a handful of people who helped Captain Ted launch his fishing career.
“I learned so much about the backcountry from Hal, I could never thank him enough,” said Captain Ted. “Another man who I learned from was Dick Pope, Jr., who held several world records and pioneered many fishing tournaments in the Keys. He’s a fantastic fly fisherman! Being from Florida , I have been catching redfish, snook and trout for as long as I can remember. As a youngster I would fish from the pier, in the Indian River as my mother always felt that was a safe haven. She also told me to do in life whatever would make me happy and believe me, I’m happy now! Thanks Mom!”
Captain Ted has competed in numerous tournaments including Cheeca Redbone, The George Bush Invitational Bonefish Tournament, World Bonefish Invitationals, Gold Cup Tarpon Fly Tournament, Golden Fly Tarpon Tournaments and many more. One tournament his wife simply won’t let him miss is the Casting for Cats Ladies Backcountry Fishing Tournament where he has guided his wife Shirley to four largest bonefish awards in a row. Captain Ted has been featured in ESPN Outdoors winning the Great Outdoor Games for fly-fishing, ESPN2’s Subaru American Outback as well as in Florida Sportsman, Power Motor Yacht Magazine, Fodors.com, Keys Weekly and more.
Fishing out of Bud n’Marys Marina, Captain Ted enjoys the incredible variety of people he gets to bring onboard and introduce to the wonders of fishing the Florida Keys. No one enjoys exploring the Islamorada fishing grounds with him more than his wife Shirley, who he married in 2005, and his daughter Ali Beth (born July 2007.)
“I have found morning and early evening trips to be very productive,” says Captain Ted. “Tarpon, snook and bonefish usually bite great early and late in the day. Besides that, anglers generally love the awesome sunrises and sunsets and the absence of other boats. I love relating to other people and many of my anglers have turned to good friends from all over the world.”
In addition to fishing, Captain Ted is an avid hunter. If he is not on the water in the Florida Keys, chances are you can find him several hours north in Moore Haven, Florida, running his airboat across the marsh of Lake Okeechobee hunting ducks, gators and frogs.