Capt. Jake Jordan honored at Crystal Coast banquet

CCA NC Executive Director David Sneed presents Capt. Jake Jordan with the Outstanding Service Award. Jake, Rick Pope of TFO Rods and friends watch a video of congratulatory wishes from other fly fishing legends.

By Rip Woodin
CCA NC Editor

The Crystal Coast Chapter (Morehead City area) of CCA NC took the unprecedented step of recognizing Capt. Jake Jordan, a Life Member in three states, for 50 years of dedicated service to fishery conservation and CCA.

Jake, whose 75th birthday coincided with the March 18 banquet, has been involved in just about every aspect of fly fishing from building boats and owning a fly shop to manufacturing fly reels and guiding all over the world.

“A fiction writer couldn’t create a more colorful life,” said Dr. Callie Freeman, a member of the chapter’s banquet committee and now Eastern Regional Director of CCA NC. In 1965, Jake built a house on Summerland Key, FL, and two years later launched his guiding career in a flats boat he constructed himself, Freeman began.

Jake got into other ventures like rebuilding antique wooden boats in Ft. Lauderdale and manufacturing STH fly reels in Argentina for Orvis, Cortland, G. Loomis and other retailers.
Through it all Jake considered himself foremost a Florida Keys tarpon guide, she continued. “This is where his passion for conservation flourished.” He started the first catch-and-release tarpon tournament then worked with Dr. William Kruger from the Woods Hole Institute tagging 4,600 tarpon over the years to help understand their biology.

Capt. Jordan began his connection with CCA in the late 1970s when he took a Texas oil man named Walter Fondren fishing. A close friendship developed while Fondren was putting together a group called the Gulf Coast Conservation Association, the predecessor to the Coastal Conservation Association. Jake donated trips for fundraisers to help get the fledgling organization running and even ended up becoming a seminal “Lifetime” sponsor in support of this group, Freeman said.

Several years later Jake joined a group of guides who were concerned with the disappearance of pilchards and mullet from runaway netting. This group called itself the Florida Conservation Association. They along with Florida Sportsmen Magazine started the SOS petition or “Save Our Sea” Life that resulted in a statewide vote and ban on gillnetting in Florida. This group later became known as the Florida Coastal Conservation Association and Jake Jordan also became a Life Member in that state.

In 2005, Jake made his way into North Carolina fly fishing in the fall for false albacore with Capt. Sarah Gardner. After Hurricane Wilma damaged the Keys, Jake decided to make Havelock, N.C., his permanent home.

Of course Jake began donating trips to the local Crystal Coast CCA chapter and found himself part of a push to enroll life members. And again Capt. Jordan became a Life Member for CCA in his third state. Freeman said Jordan has also helped his friend, Gary Loomis, start a CCA predecessor group in Washington that worked hard to rebuild salmon stocks in the Lewis River.

“His giving nature is another reason we decided to honor Jake,” she explained. “It’s representative of the Crystal Coast Chapter and Cape Lookout Fly Fishers. I met Jake over a buffet line two years ago at the club’s annual banquet. I knew who he was, he didn’t know me but immediately offered to take my husband and me fishing to teach us how it’s done.”

In his presentation remarks to the banquet crowd, CCA NC Executive Director David Sneed said, “Jake you exemplify the unique spirit of the Crystal Coast Chapter and that is why I am honored to present this Outstanding Service Award for exceptional contributions to conserving marine resources and sustained dedication to CCA throughout your career.”

To top off the evening, Freeman surprised Jake with video remarks from other legends of fly fishing and conservation including Lefty Kreh, Flip Pallot, Bob Clouser, Ed Jaworoski, Wanda Taylor, Blane Choclett, Bob Popovics, Gary Loomis, Gary Dubiel and Larry Dahlberg. The full toasts and roasts video can be found here.

Chuck Laughridge, one of Jake’s fishing pals from Harker’s Island and former CCA NC board member, had the best line of the night when he said, “There’s no way he could cram in all those things he’s done in 75 years; he’s probably 106. This comes straight from the heart: When I grow up I want to be Jake Jordan.”

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