Born: Atlanta, GA
Favorite Fish: Florida Keys magnificent tailing bonefish and a laid-up tarpon.
Two Favorite Saltwater Flies: #4 Lead Eye Merkin Crab, cream and tan. Same in brown and tan.
Sandy grew up bass and trout fishing in Georgia. “Fishing was available in my family from an early age and as I grew older I would fish at every opportunity. I always felt a passion for the outdoors, it was just the thing to do on weekends or after school (and often instead of school). I was very torn about leaving the familiar waters and woods of my youth to pursue a business opportunity in Miami in 1972.”
Soon After arriving in South Florida those concerns were quelled when he had the good fortune to meet Flip Pallot, Steve Huff, and Chico Fernandez, all of whom introduced him to the wonders of South Florida, the Keys and Everglades. For Sandy, sight fishing for bonefish, tarpon, snook, and redfish was an incredibly rewarding challenge. Tournament participation provided a chance to focus on specific species and to share knowledge with the finest saltwater fly fishing anglers and guides, the sport was still in its adolescent years. During those times Sandy was Grand Champion of the Keys’ most prestigious fly tournaments eight times.
After selling a successful business in Miami in 1985 he moved to Islamorada full time and was a frequent guest on the Walker’s Cay Chronicles, The Reel Guys, and Andy Mill’s Sportsman’s Adventures. By then he had released well over 100 permit on fly. Sandy has fished and explored extensively throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas, Central America, the Seychelles, Christmas Island and Palau as well as being a member of the first US group to fish for Atlantic salmon on Russia’s Kola Peninsula before perestroika.
After attending a saltwater fly-fishing seminar in the Everglades, Sandy invited his friends to join in teaching a school he would base in Islamorada. The Florida Keys Fly Fishing School had its first class in 1989 and is nearing the 30 year mark in world class instruction. The school eventually led to opening Florida Keys Outfitters, the premiere salt water fly shop in Islamorada that Sandy runs with his wife, Sue.
Sandy was past president of the Everglades Protection Association which merged to create CCA in Florida and served on the East Everglades/Everglades National Park Advisory Board at the appointment of Governor Bob Graham. He is a founding member of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, and past Chairman of The Don Hawley Foundation.