Wejebe touched millions of viewers from his home base in the Florida Keys, where he created high quality programming; from shooting to edit room. He was the star who could grab the high definition camera and dive into the water as the fish he caught was at the boat.
I was about to graduate in the spring of 1976, when a small group of college friends visited Marathon to fish on the flats for three days.
Since only two people fish in a boat, our guide Harry Spear called on a new kid to run the second boat: Jose. I was Jose's first or second charter.
If my memory is correct, Jose had arrived from Cuba either on a raft or a small boat only a few months earlier. He was about our own age, a big raw-boned, barefoot kid. His knot tying skill was like his English: a work in progress. I remember pretty clearly; one day where Harry found bonefish everywhere, Jose couldn't find any until the very end of the day when just off Big Pine Key, a school tormented us to no avail. We kids circled the bonefish in the fading light, muttering. If you bet me then a live shrimp, that Jose would become a charismatic star of fishing television; an icon of a billion dollar industry, I would have swallowed the shrimp.
We fished together once or twice in the 1980's. My father, who lived at the time in Marathon, more often. Success for Jose didn't arrive at the end of a smoothly paved road. But he had done the hard part: survived the crossing from Cuba over the Florida Straits with nothing in his pockets.
Not many people have a success story like Jose. He lived the dream. He dialed-in the yearning of fishermen for new and exotic places and showed how the fish we identify with, live. It was a magical run, any way you catch and release it. God bless you, Jose.