She’s a seasoned graphic designer and website programmer, the director of two fishing tournaments and a proud mother and wife. So it’s no surprise that Sugarloaf Key resident Loren Rea has made a name for herself over the last 17 years in the Florida Keys.
Originally from a small town outside Stanford, Conn., Loren spent her days fishing off the beach in Greenwich — until, that is, her friends recommended that she visit the Keys.
“I would always call my boss and tell him I was staying here another day,” she confessed.
In 1996 Loren moved to the Keys, with only her pet Doberman as a companion, and got a job designing ads for the local daily newspaper. In 1998, she transferred to the paper’s Internet affiliate and began building web pages.
Around 2005, Loren started scorekeeping for the Del Brown Permit Tournament, a popular fly- and flats-fishing challenge. The contest honors the late angling legend Del Brown, widely considered to be the most successful permit fly-rodder in history.
A few years later, she became the event’s director.
“We were cleaning up after a tournament, and the co-founder just asked me if I wanted to take her position,” Loren said. “I thought about it for a little while, but then I gladly accepted.”
In the last few years, she’s made major changes to the tournament — including decreasing entry fees to make it more appealing to anglers. In recent years the tournament has donated to the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, a nonprofit devoted to the conservation of saltwater flats species.
“I knew they weren’t easy to catch, but I definitely knew I had the skills to do it,” Loren said of the notably elusive permit.
She certainly does. In her first year of fishing the March Merkin, she caught a 20-pound permit and earned the respect of the 25 male participants.
Fittingly, Loren shares her love of fishing with the love of her life: her husband Captain Justin Rea. Justin is the founder of tarponfishingkeywest.com, a fly-fishing business that provides guided shallow water flats fishing tours.
“I always fish with my husband,” Loren confided. “He’s great because he’s very passionate about it.”
Loren and Justin have a 5-year-old son who’s already a fishing fanatic.
“He’s been fishing and swimming since he was one-and-a-half years old,” Loren marveled. “He’ll just sit at Bahia Honda on the shore with his little net and catch fish all day.”
In 2011, Loren and Justin founded the Cuda Bowl, a barracuda-fishing tournament that takes place just before Super Bowl Sunday each year. These days the event is growing steadily, attracting ever more participants and sponsorships.
So what does the Rea family do during their down time? Fish, of course. Loren and Justin have traveled to angling destinations including Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Their travels even led to their very own fishing show. In 2012, “Getting Guided” focused on prime destinations for saltwater and freshwater fishing adventures from the Rocky Mountains to the Caribbean.
Loren and Justin hope to expand to new businesses in the near future.
“I really want to write a book,” Loren revealed, “a mixture of fishing stories, fishing advice and food recipes.”
Whether it’s writing, designing a website or catching her next permit in Lower Keys waters, one thing is clear: Loren Rea will find the perfect “angle” to succeed.