Florida Keys sportfishing captain Mike Weinhofer hasn’t had charter clients since the new coronavirus closed the Keys to visitors in March, but he’s still fishing.
Weinhofer has operated Key West Florida Fishing Charters for more than 30 years. In the past six weeks, he and his crew have caught, filleted and distributed about 624 bags in the Keys, where the tourism industry employs half of the workforce.
“I started giving away free fish just to help out,” Weinhofer said Thursday evening, after he took his two daughters out fishing. “You know, a lot of people are having a tough time right now.”
After a day on the water, he fillets the catch and texts people on his “request list” to pick it up at his slip at Key West’s Charter Boat Row.
“The best part is when people send you pictures of the fish they’ve cooked, and the smiles and the happy faces,” Weinhofer said.
The program has received assistance from some of Weinhofer’s past charter clients, who have sent fuel money for his boat. Other local charter captains and guides have donated additional fish for distribution.
“This is a really big help to the whole community and for everybody here that’s hungry,” said Key West resident Liam O’Kelly as he picked up a bag of fish Thursday night.