A family with Saltwater in their Veins
It’s a two-hour drive from Miami International Airport. We pick up our bags and head for the Florida Keys, crossing bridge after bridge. The small tropical islands are surrounded by turquoise water and views that could be on a postcard sent from paradise.
We’re approaching Duck Key. The road leads us to a quiet but developed archipelago anchored by the family-friendly Hawks Cay Resort. Down at the pier we see Ozzy Delgado, a semi-professional fisherman, waving at us, gesturing to us to hurry up. Apparently, the fish are biting today and he doesn’t want to waste any more time. He tends to be a bit more excited about going fishing than to his friends. They say it’s his passion that makes him a good fisherman. We get on his boat and he sets course to one of his many secret spots, or “honey holes” as he calls it. The sun is casting short shadows as it sits on its highest point, taking a rest before continuing its westbound journey. The first cast is made and the hook breaks through the ocean surface.
Ozzy was born in Cuba and moved to Miami with his family when he was six years old, the same age as his youngest daughter Zuri is now. Her brown eyes light up when we ask her if she likes to fish with her dad. She gives us the biggest smile we’ve ever seen and says that she loves it. Her dad couldn’t be any happier about that answer, and says, “Fishing is in our blood. My grandfather was a fisherman back in Cuba, and my dad too.”
He starts to tell the story about how he as a kid used to compete with his grandfather about who would catch the first fish. His grandfather would always let him win. He tears up a bit and looks at his daughter, who doesn’t really understand why her daddy is crying. He explains how he wants to teach his kids the same values that he was taught from his grandfather, who was his hero. That’s where the passion for fishing started, before it got passed down to the next generation. Now he is doing the same thing with his daughter, and hope she will pass it on to her children too.
We ask him why he loves fishing so much, and he says, “Being out on the water makes you forget about stress and all your worries. It’s not a failure to return without any fish.” That’s easy for him to say, considering his wife has never seen him come home empty-handed.
The Florida Keys is called the fishing capital of the world, and it’s easy to understand why. The clear water gives you exactly what you want as a fisherman – an endless variety of different types of fish. No day is the same and there’s an excitement to that, so it wouldn’t be possible for him to live anywhere else. He loves being next to the ocean and says it’s because he has saltwater running through his veins.
The sun is slowly setting on the quiet water on the Gulf of Mexico, turning the sky on fire. There hasn’t been a boat nearby in quite some time. Even though Zuri just wants to catch one last fish, it’s time to head back to Duck Key. We catch him staring into the vivid sunset, and starting to talk about his relationship with nature. He explains that we need to respect the things around us, join in and give back because there would be no fishing without the ocean. He takes off his sunglasses and goes, “I hope my daughter will fish until she’s not able to walk anymore. My grandfather would have loved that”.