Capt. Geoff W Colmes
By: Bob Johnson
Over the past twenty five years Geoff has guided in literally all of the major "all tackle" and fly tournaments throughout the Florida Keys, Biscayne Bay and Everglades. Although Geoff's anglers have won or placed in many of these events, he is quick to point out; "Tournament fishing can make a much better angler or guide out of you, forcing you to make quicker decisions, maximizing every second on the water. However fishing as a competitive sport is not for everyone and at times it can be too restrictive regarding the tournament rules such as fishing times and geography, taking away from the quality of the fishing experience. Furthermore, I'm not convinced that the ever growing number of tournaments is good for the resource. I think that the essence of the sport is not always to catch greater numbers and bigger fish than the other guy, but to enjoy the experience, the solitude, learning something new, providing opportunities for my anglers and returning to the dock relaxed... without the self imposed stress that accompanies competitive fishing. After all, it’s just fishin'!
Geoff was born in Evanston, Illinois, his family moved to South Florida when he was four years old. He grew up there attending Ponce De Leon Junior High and Coral Gables Senior High School. Later, at Miami Dade and the University Of Miami, Geoff majored in music while playing with some of the best rock n' roll bands in the City of Miami. However for young Geoff Colmes, a career in music was not to be – at least for the time being.
"As a child and teenager I had two passions; I was musically inclined, and I loved to fish with my mom and dad, two brothers and my sister. Back in the sixties and seventy's, South Florida was a playground for any kid who loved to fish, and still is. My Father was a banker and my mother was in real estate, buying homes and fixing them up as a business for resale. We moved around Dade County a lot. Nevertheless we always lived on the water; the Coral Gables Waterway, Biscayne Bay, numerous inland lakes, and Florida Bay in the Keys. Fishing in salt or fresh water was the one passion in my life and in my fathers. He was an avid fisherman and if my dad wasn't working, he was taking us fishing. I'll never forget that and hope to be as generous and patient with my time for my own children as he was with us." said Geoff.
In 1962 Geoff's parents bought a home on Plantation Key (now part of the Village of Islamorada) and have maintained one in the Keys since then. When most kids would be learning to ride a bike Geoff had his own boat. His mother always wanted him to stay within eyesight of the dock. However, when she wasn't paying attention - he was gone; exploring the far corners of Florida Bay and the Everglades. For Geoff, two-week grounding meant exactly that. No boat!
Later in the 1970's, Geoff's parents bought one of the historic homes in "Stiltsville" so named because of homes being built on pilings on the shallow flats of Biscayne Bay. When the home was not occupied Geoff would sneak in with friends, totally against his parents rules. Once, the Coast Guard was called by a concerned neighbor about "visitors" and Geoff was caught. Of course Geoff was "hard aground" for another two weeks. "My enthusiasm for fishing would get me into a lot of trouble." recalled Colmes, "When I was a teenager, I spent quite a few long dark nights stranded on a flat, or stuck up a tidal creek full of gators and mosquitoes. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. It has given me a rich understanding and respect for the local waters and wildlife. The Stiltsville home is gone, lost in Hurricane Andrew, and the future is unclear for the remaining homes. Now I only get in trouble when I don't spend enough time with my wife Eliza, my daughter Eliza Leigh and my son, Ben. We really have a great lifestyle."
After Geoff married Eliza, they spent a several years on a farm they purchased in Western North Carolina raising horses. In fact, their first date was on horseback atop a nearby mountain. There in the high country, twenty-five years ago, Geoff and his partner, Sam Houston, formed the Blowing Rock Guide Company. They Specializing in; fly-fishing, technical rock climbing and outfitted horseback trips, becoming at that time, the only local outfitter of its kind. "It was at that point in my life that I knew I was destined to be a guide," said Geoff.
Today, Geoff specializes in fly-fishing for tarpon, bonefish, permit, snook, redfish, largemouth and peacock bass. Although he promotes fly-fishing and is his first fishing method of choice, he would be the first to tell you not to "marry" the fly rod. "Remarkably, the more experienced angler will quickly switch back to spin or plug tackle when the conditions or logistics are not favorable for fly-fishing." Aside from full and half-day fishing trips just about anywhere in the Keys and South Florida, Geoff offers fly casting instruction. Geoff practices an "all release" policy. As for Geoff’s music career you can catch him on the weekend evenings playing the bass guitar for the Dana Collins Band performing at the best venues in Islamorada.