NEIL TAYLOR – Tampa Bay, Florida
By Jerry White
There is no shortage of fishing guides here in west central Florida. So, finding someone to lead you to fish is never a problem … so simple, even a cave man could do it. But here in the fishing capital of the world, a few guides stand above the crowd by standing on their ethics. One of those guides is Neil Taylor.
Neil is noteworthy as an angler and a kayak fishing guide. But, catching fish can sometimes be secondary. It’s about the process, it’s about stewardship of the resource, and it’s about the paddle fishing journey. Walk with me.
I’ve fished several tournaments with Neil, attended his seminars, listened to him on the radio, and conducted a very impromptu interview. The song remains the same. Neil is concerned not only with making his clients happy today, but making sure fish are there for all of us tomorrow. Yes, conservation can lie down beside vocation. Win / Win.
Neil is a graduate of the University of Arizona (finance and accounting), on the Board of Directors for the Pinellas Coastal Conservation Association, and an active supporter of Tampa Bay Watch. This equates to someone that understands how numbers and statistics matter when it comes to protecting the Tampa Bay estuary – brilliant! Never underestimate the power of columns and rows, and of course, fluorocarbon leader.
In a former life, Neil was a pro baseball umpire. Like all of us, our past molds our present. In Neil’s case, the assertive nature of an umpire allows him to take charge of a charter and be not only a guide to the fish, but an educator, and a mentor to the sport of kayak fishing. The clients (myself included) never know they’re being schooled. Aside from that, Neil has a story to tell, and he’s a sports fan. Fishing doesn’t always equate to catching, so you better have the gift of gab to get you through the slack tides. Neil can gab.
Neil has caught his share of fish, and moved on. Since that’s been proven and digitally documented, his prime focus on a charter these days is to teach his clients to catch fish, both during the charter, and for years to come. Don’t bring your GPS to mark locations, but do bring your mind, and be willing to fill it with knowledge – it’s there for the taking. It’s that whole “give a man a fish – teach a man to fish” thing. Trust me, knowledge about the sport and perspective on the “big picture” will serve you much better than a collection of good waypoints.
Neil is paddle fishing guide, period. His business card doesn’t say “Captain” on it because fossil fueled charters aren’t part of his offering. Imagine – spending every day on the water, fishing, from a kayak. This results in doing one thing well … I rest my case.
Neil is the owner of capmel.com; the host of the annual Captain Mel Classic; Co-host of CapMel.com radio; the founder of Florida Anglers United and a lifetime honorary member of countless organizations. Want to get better at fishing? This is an easy way to do it.