Each year, the Jose Wejebe Professional Guide Award is awarded to one of Hell's Bay's Certified Guides and Captains. The recipient is recognized for their work with conservation efforts, education of the sport, and professionalism in the angling community, and is presented at their Guide Rendezvous. Guides nominate their peers for the award, and Hell's Bay and the Jose Wejebe Foundation choose the winner. Jeff Legutki was the last person Jose fished with, and the first one to win the award.
Jeff Legutki, last year's recipient
Among the mutual respect, love for the Everglades, and ethics he and Jose shared there is something special about Jeff. Not only was he extremely supportive to the Wejebe family after the accident, he is a single father to his two daughters. Jose worked very hard throughout his life not only for the love of fishing, but for the love and dedication to his family. Jeff's passion of fishing, conservation, and family, is why he was the first recipient of the Jose Wejebe Professional Guide Award.
On January 21, 2014, Joe Gonzalez received the second Jose Wejebe Professional Guide Award. Joe and Jose practiced fishing together in Biscayne Bay as young adults, and continued their relationship as successful fishermen. Captain Joe's Funnybone Charters seeks to protect the beauty of Florida's coast and estuaries, as well as participating in the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust's tagging program. Jose believed that it is important to educate others, and Joe does the same in his How-To Clinics at various events in the fishing industry. Based off of everything he and Jose shared it was a no-brainer; however, no one expected what Joe did after accepting the award.
After hugs and a few tears, Joe stated that he was honored to receive the award, and then turned to Rob Fordyce. Rob and Jose fished many shows together throughout the years. Just like Joe, both Rob and Jose are from the same "generation" of fishermen, and off camera very dear friends. Because Rob is part of Hells Bay's Pro-Staff team he is not eligible for the award. The award itself is a wood carving of the Spanish Fly logo made by marine artist David Wirth. Joe surprised us all when he walked up to Rob, and said that he deserves this award, because of the bond, and morals that Jose and Rob shared. There was not a dry eye in the room. With tears and a standing ovation, the two gave each other a very big manly hug, and Rob expressed his gratitude to Joe. Personally, I was amazed at this act of selflessness by Joe, and gained a new found respect for him. Just like Jose, Joe is a truly genuine human being.