Capt. Shafter Johnston of Blue Moon Expeditions guides out of Islamorada, Florida – a location that many regard as the saltwater fly fishing capital of the United States (if not the world). Johnston recently sat down to take on some questions for the Venturing Angler:
1. Why do you guide where you do?
Islamorada is the heart of saltwater fishing. I don’t think there is anywhere in the US that has the diversity of fish that we have available here. There is so much history in Islamorada and a great fishing community. Islamorada is the best place in the Keys to get to the Everglades. The Everglades for me is the greatest place on earth to fish and guide. I love remote places and to have Everglades National Park in my back yard is why I live where I do. I can’t imagine guiding anywhere else.
2. What is your favorite fish specie?
Definitely tarpon. As a guide it’s the only fish I get to fight too. The best part of my day is when a client wears one down and I get a chance to get my hands in their mouth. The boat I run and the places and ways I fish are specifically to allow me to tarpon fish year round.
3. What is your favorite thing about guiding?
I really enjoy getting someone their first of a specie, especially tarpon. There is a lot that can go wrong but when it goes right it’s pretty neat.
4. What is the most memorable trip you’ve guided and why?
That’s a hard one. It all kinda runs together after a while. I have great clients and there is nothing better than getting them the fish they wanted when they came to the Keys.
5. What is the funniest thing you’ve experienced while guiding?
It’s usually the things that are frustrating that end up funny afterwards. People can get pretty worked up when they are on the bow of the boat. It’s pretty serious and intense when your trying to get it done on the water but you have to be able to laugh it off.
6. What makes your guide service great?
My goal is to provide the best experience possible for my clients. I think good equipment is very important. I run new boats and the best gear on the market. I also offer multi-day trips from a mothership. There is no one else doing anything like that in this area.
7. If you had only one day off all year, where would you fish and what fish would you target?
I would fish the last week in June. Snook and tarpon.
8. What are your favorite three flies?
I like basic flies. My main flies are some variation of a Clouser in pink and tan, a rabbit strip tarpon fly in black and purple or chartreuse and a white baitfish pattern. If I can’t get them to eat one of those I usually crank the motor and find new fish. The exception would be bones and permit and I would use a Merkin crab.
9. What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?
My VanStaal titanium pliers. They are on my hip at all times in a leather sheath that also hold a small utility knife.
10. Do you have any other passions?
I love big game hunting and would spend all fall hunting if I could. I love spot and stalk hunting for elk and muledeer out west and hunting whitetail where I grew up in West Texas. Rifle or bow I do it all.
To check out more from Capt. Shafter Johnston and Blue Moon Expeditions, please click here.
Disclosure: Blue Moon Expeditions is in a professional relationship with the Fly Fishing Guide Directory, LLC and the Venturing Angler. Though potentially benefiting from this relationship, we do not post what we do not believe to be true. To read more, click here.