I first met Don Robb back in the nineties when first moving down to Florida.
He was working in a local tackle shop in Naples where I first met him and he gave me information on fishing the local waters and also sold me one of my first fishing outfits to fish the area. At that time I was mostly fishing off of the beaches.
As I got to know Don better over the years he would turn out to me to be more of a local legend.
It wasn’t that long after moving to Florida that I got into kayak fishing and every now and then in the middle of nowhere in the Everglades I would run into Don who loved to fly fish out of his red 16’ canoe.
I actually first met a couple of other fishing legends while fishing in the backwaters of the Everglades such as Chico Fernandez and Flip Pallot but I’ll remember most the meet ups with Don who would love to tell his stories and sometimes non-stop to the point of me trying to get away from him so I could get back to fishing.
He had said that fishing in the Everglades was his favorite place to fish and that he had fished in many other places around the world including Asia and Europe. I believe he may have been sponsored by Orvis during some of those travels. He gave fishing seminars in Naples although I never attended any and also that he had no problem in telling about specific places where he had good luck and telling people where to fish. Thank god he wasn’t into the internet with all the gawkers out there now days but that was who he was.
I hadn’t seen Don in a couple of years and wondered from time to time about him only to find out that he passed on last year after from what I understand ended up getting Alzheimer’s disease.
What made me write this short piece on Don Robb is a couple of weeks ago I was fishing a small lake with my 7wt for juvenile tarpon along a mangrove lined shoreline when with no warning a large tarpon 60, maybe 70 lbs taking my fly in its mouth goes airborne and almost lands in my kayak. Not having much of a chance of landing the fish on this light gear and him getting into the mangroves I did end up breaking him off. Immediately after I thought of Don as the last time I saw and spoke with him he told me of a similar situation on this same lake and I only half heartily believed him that a fish that large would be in this lake.