The Florida Keys History and Discovery Foundation is pleased to announce that it has received photos and other historical items from the family of fishing guide legend George Hommell, Jr. to be scanned, preserved and displayed.Hommell Bush

Hommell Bush

The Foundation expects this will be the first of numerous private collections that it will be entrusted with to help preserve. Experts at Florida International University handle the digitization process.

hat it will be entrusted with to help preserve. Experts at Florida International University handle the digitization process.

The Discovery Center, located in the conference center at the Islander Resort in Islamorada, plans to display photos from Hommell’s private collection at the forthcoming Reel Legends of the Line exhibit coming to the Discovery Center in February.

Foundation President Richard Russell said, “George Hommell was a much beloved member of our community. He helped to redefine the role of fishing guides in the Upper Keys. He fished with many well-known outdoorsmen including baseball legend Ted Williams, professional golfer Jack Nicklaus and President George H. W. Bush, our 41st president. We feel privileged and honored that George’s daughter Mary Ellen has entrusted our foundation with the important task of digitally preserving George’s amazing collection of photos and other memorabilia.”

Foundation Curator Brad Bertelli said, “Hommell was great because he recognized that there was more to being a fishing guide than landing fish, George proved instrumental in establishing the practices and standards recognized by the sport fishing community today.

“A champion of the environment, Hommell was a founding member of the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust whose mission is to conserve and enhance global bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and their environment. Along with local legend Jimmie Albright, Hommell worked more than most fishing guides because many of his clients were referred to him by the Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club, a prestigious fishing club established on Hibiscus Island in the early 1930s.

“While certainly remembered for his client list, George Hommell is perhaps more importantly remembered for his role in redefining fishing techniques. He also set the bar for the decorum and professionalism displayed by Islamorada fishing guides. Ted Williams used to say that George had the biggest heart in the business, but might have been better known for his keen eyes. Even in a group of guides, George was the first to spot a bonefish.

“Hommell was not satisfied with just leaving the dock to accommodate a client. In fact, he was one of the first guides to trailer his skiff in order to find the best possible locale to find a good bite. An innovator, Hommell also was one of the first to design a fly with an eye, a bead eye, and called it the Hommell Evil Eye.

“There are quite a few more fascinating aspects to the George Hommell story, which we will be telling in the future, Bertelli said.

About the Foundation: The Florida Keys History and Discovery Foundation is a nonprofit entity formed to develop and operate the Florida Keys History and Discovery Center and Theatre in the Conference Center of the Islander Resort. When completed, the Discovery Center will include a state-of-the-art 40-seat theater and exhibit space totaling 7,500 square feet The foundation’s geographic emphasis is generally on the history of the Upper Keys, but encompasses other areas to help tell the stories and preserve that history in a meaningful, entertaining and educational manner. The Discovery Center will appeal to local residents, school groups, tourists, adults, families and scholars interested in the area. The Foundation Board is working with museum professionals in the community and beyond to develop and create the activities of the Discovery Center.

The Foundation Board and committees are composed of members of the community with an interest in preserving the history of the Upper Keys and linking that history to the overall geography and experience of the total Florida Keys to inspire appreciation for our island chain. The exempt educational purpose of the Foundation is furthered by the development and maintenance of a world-class Discovery Center that accurately reflects the history of the Florida Keys community in a multi-faceted and interactive environment.

For more information:

Facebook: Florida Keys History and Discovery Foundation

Contacts: Rich Russell 305 522-0948, Brad Bertelli 305 395-9889, Jill Miranda Baker
305 304-0052, Frank Hawkins 305 451-1888