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From Billfish to Bonefish, Harlan Franklin Covered It All

Florida Sportsman says farewell and good tides to longtime contributing writer/photographer Harlan Franklin, who passed away on July 20. We offer our condolences to Harlan's wife, Janey Franklin, and others in their circle.

Harlan Franklin guides an angler on Key West flats in the early 1990s. Harlan, who passed away July 20, 2018, was an outdoors writer with deep personal experience in a vast range of Florida's big-name fisheries.


Among Harlan's earliest and most significant contributions to Florida Sportsman magazine was a series of articles in the 1970s chronicling what today's anglers might regard as “small-boat” billfishing. Catching sailfish on a 16-foot boat? Guys were doing it in the Gulf in 1971.

Trailer a 19-footer across the state to tackle winter sailfish in Stuart? Harlan and Janey did that, and he wrote about it.

Single-engine 25-foot CC for blue marlin in the Bahamas? Pretty routine, by 1978.

Harlan also raised an early-warning about the looming crisis of longline fishing on billfish stocks. In 1972, Japanese ships were setting miles of hooks off Destin, and local charterboats were taking action.

Harlan Franklin's obituary, sent to our offices by Janey:



    Harlan Benjamin Franklin, Jr., was born north of the Mason-Dixon line but would never admit where. He was the son of Harlan B. Franklin, Sr. and Carolyn Williams Franklin. He passed away peacefully at Hospice House in Vero Beach on July 20, 2018. Harlan was raised in South Georgia and Tallahassee. The story goes that he fished as a small child stringing the little fish on a pine needle. He never stopped fishing—it was his passion.





    He went to FSU, majoring in journalism and business. In 1959, he married a fishing girl, Janey Getzen, and they spent 59 happy years fishing and cruising. He was a real estate broker owning a firm in Tallahassee and Apalachicola, but best enjoyed the niche in the market where he bought large parcels of land and divided it, selling 5, 10 and 20 acre tracts to the "butcher, baker and candlestick maker".





    Harlan was very active in fisheries politics serving on many state and federal councils and study groups. He had TV and radio fishing shows and a weekly column "Sea Log" in the Tallahassee Democrat. He became a free-lance outdoor writer and was affiliated with Florida Sportsman magazine for 30 years. He also published in Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Yachting, Saltwater Fly Fishing, Fly Fishing in Saltwater and many others.





    In the early 1980's at age 50, he and Janey sailed away in a motorsailer, landing in the Florida Keys were they had spent their honeymoon. The next 24 years in Key West found him enjoying flats fishing so much he guided fishermen to permit, bonefish, and tarpon for 15 of those years. In 2008, they moved to Sebastian on the lagoon across from the inlet with a dock and boat.





    Harlan fished all over North, Central and South American, cruised the Chesapeake, rescued a sinking sailboat in a violent storm, had his boat "Beachcomber" confiscated by Castro in Cuba, later ran a 25 Mako from Key West to Cuba to fish the 1979 Ernest Hemingway International Fishing Tournament and many other adventures, including living aboard for five years. He taught a course in fishing at FSU, sponsored tarpon tournaments in Apalachicola and always promoted recreational fishing and conservation of fishery resources.





    His memberships included Florida Outdoor Writers Assn., Florida Conservation Assn./Coastal Conservation Assn., International Fishing Hall of Fame, International Game Fish Assn. where he held several records, Florida League of Anglers, Bonefish and Tarpon Trust and Indian River Land Trust.



No services are planned at this time; just throw a line in the water, and have a good day!

Arrangements are under the direction of Strunk Funeral Home, 1623 North Central Avenue, Sebastian, Florida 32958. You may sign a guest book on-line at www.strunkfuneralhome.com

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