Of Fort Pierce, Florida, Tell Their Stories
When I interviewed him for this book, Roger lived alone in the small cement block structure house that he and his wife had shared for much of their lives.
The walls were covered with pictures of himself and his wife bass fishing, pictures of his two daughters, a painting of his first kingfish boat and shelves containing trophies from bass tournaments.
In front of his easy chair was a large square coffee table cluttered with boxes of hooks,fishing line, swivels, liers and sundry other fishing tackle, along with the daily newspapers, sports pages, and Florida Sportsman magazines. Reels and fishing poles surrounded his chair.
Born in 1919, Roger Farlow fished whenever he could until his death.
He died during the lull between Hurricane Francis and Hurricane Jean
in the fall of 2004.
Both hurricanes made direct hits on Fort Pierce.
Roger Farlow, born December 4,1919, in McLeansboro, Illinois, was the oldest of five King fishermen interviewed. Although he sold his King fishing boat upon retiring at age 80, Roger still fished. He purchased a seventeen-foot Carolina Skiff with a sixty-horsepower outboard, outfitted with outriggers and trolled for Spanish Mackerel when they were running along the beach, as well as Amberjack in the river, in the Fort Pierce Inlet, and along the beaches.
Roger in 1983 with a 25 pound snapper caught at the south end of off shore bar
Steve Lowe was born February 8, 1936, in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Steve, is the youngest of the five King fishermen interviewed. He grew p on the waterfront in Fort Pierce. His father had a house and a fish house on the mainland (west) side of Fort Pierce's old South Bridge from 1938 to 1964. Both were destroyed in the 1949 hurricane that Roger Farlow spoke of.
From his earliest years, Steve found that he could make a better living from fishing than from anything else he could do, and he liked it better. Nevertheless, for much of his career, after his father became ill and later died, Steve ran the family's wholesale fish business, which had been moved to the west end of Fort Pierce's North Bridge.
Steve has since sold that business and property and now King fishes full time. He keeps his Kingfish boat, the Lora, on a canal behind his house on North Beach in Fort Pierce. Steve has fun fishing, and is usually one of the first boats in from fishing each day. Even though he leaves the fishing grounds early, as a rule, he catches more fish than most other boats that stay out all day. Steve is considered by many to be one of the best King Mackerel fishermen in the area and has a wealth of knowledge about Fort Pierce and about commercial fishing off Florida's east coast.
Johnny Jones was born August 17,1927, and is a mainstay of Fort Pierce's hand line King Mackeral fishery. He lives on the Indian River, on property his great-great-grandfather homesteaded. His great-great-grandfather was a soldier in the United States Army, stationed at Fort Capron on the Indian River. The fort was established after a Semole Indian attack on settlers in 1849. The property on the Indian River Lagoon has been in the Jones family since the 1850's.
Today it is located in St. Lucie Village, a municipality of about a thousand people just north of the city Fort Pierce along a mile-wide section of the Indian River lagoon.
Johnny Jones is at home in his favorite chair. His home is one the Indian River property that has been in his family since the 1850's.
This is a model of Steve's present Kingfish boat made by Lester Revells, another Fort Pierce fisherman.
Johnny has fond memories of growing up here on the waterfromt and still relishes it to this day. Now he likes to see the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean while beginning a day of King fishing.
Johnny holds a harpoon that his granddaddy used for sea cows. "What you killed, you ate...one sea cow would provide a lot of meat."
Like Steve Lowe, Johnny Jones's home suffered some damage from the hurricanes of 2004. There are three houses on Johnny's family property on the Indian River. HIs son Tommy, a King fisherman, lives in ones, his daughter Debbie lives in the old Jones home, and Johnny and his wife, Carolyn live in the new home right on the Indian River Lagoon. His home is like a museum, with many artifacts from past generations --items from lives lived on the Indian River.
Before the storms, Johnny and Tommy took their Kingfish boats across the Indian River, and tied them in the mangroves, like fishermen have done during hurricanes for years in this area. Their boats sustainded only minor dmage. Johnny, like most King fishermen, spent much of the year after Hurricanes Francis and Jeanne repairing his destroyed dock and sea wall, and the damge done to his family's homes. Johnny is a master carpenter.
He was finally able to resume fishing with the remainder of Fort Pierce's ragtag commercial Kingfish fleet in late spring and summer of 2005. He and his family recovered and finally have things back together.
The 2004 Hurricanes were hard on Johnny and his family. And, like Steve Lowe, it was good to see Johnny back on the ocean in 2005, King fishing once again.
Al and his wife, Emma, at their Fort Pierce home in 2002
Al Tyrrell was born on August 15, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York. He served in the Marine Corps in the Pacific during World War II. He, like Roger Farlow and other American combat veterans, prefers to recollect the more positive experiences and shelve the darker momories of the war.
Al once told another fisherman that while he was in the Pacific during the war, his boots completely wore out.They were rags. One day he shot a Japanese soldier coming over a hill. The body of he soldier rolled down to where he was. Al said the dead soldier's boots fit him perfectly and very well made, so he wore them for the rest of the war. Only a handful of the men in Al's unit returned from the Pacific after the war.
Al and his present wife, Emma, raised seven children. For many years, when you saw Al fishing, you would see the little heads of his children bouncing around the boat. His wife and children have experienced many adventures at sea with Al who likes to travel up and down the Florida coast following the Kingfish. He keeps his boat in Fort Pierce only when the fish are biting best there.
From his early years as an avid swimmer and competitive sportsman to his time as a Marine in the Pacific where he spent much of his spare time on the water and fishing. Al Tyrrell has always had an affinity for the sea. He seemed to be destined to become a hand line King Mackerel fisherman. HIs story is a fascinating tale. His biography is an amazing adventure.
Al fishes off Naples, Florida, in 1967 in a 25" skiff
Tommy McHale was born on June 21, 1932, in New York City on the Lower East Side Of Manhattan. He started fishing in the lakes and ponds of Ventral Park and progressed to the New York Harbor, Sheepshead Bay, and Jersey Shore. Some have argued that he was Fort Pierce's best hand line King Mackerel fisherman.
A common saying about Tommy around Fort Pierce is, "The fishing is not as good as it used to be here, but nobody told that to Tommy McHale."
Tommy nearly always caught fish. Like the other fishermen, age did not slow Tommy's enthusiasm for fishing. At seventy, he still out-fished the competition regularly. He survived broken bones, waterspouts, collisions with the jetties, near sinkings, lightning, predators of the deep, islands of trash, and divorce. Nothing diminished his passion for fishing.
The author, Terry Howard (on left) and Tommy McHale with the Fort Pierce Inlet in the background in the fall of 2002