If you’ve ever driven by Pier Sixty-Six anytime between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., you’ve probably seen Juli Krebs in her bait boat. There are so many interesting people along the waterways of Fort Lauderdale and she definitely is one of them. We wanted to get to know Juli a little better and learn about her story.
Boating has always been a part of Juli’s life. Growing up, her father was a professional musician working nights (often in Fort Lauderdale) which allowed for many days of fishing, diving and water skiing.
Juli remembers the old days as a child in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and has children herself. “I do love it. I remember a day a few years back when we caught and delivered bait early in the morning, then had a fantastic day fishing, came home and sold the fish. Next, we went to a boat parade party which I left briefly to drop our daughter off at the Broward Center to see the opera, then came back to the party to watch the rest of the parade. Where else can you do that?”
Juli met her husband, Gary, over 40 years ago, and their world has always revolved around the water. For over 30 years, the Krebs commercially fished for snapper, grouper, king fish, and Spanish mackerel. In addition to commercial fishing, they would take customers on private fishing charters as well as the occasional memorial trip to spread ashes of loved ones. They find it a rewarding service. Since 2001, the Krebs have also run a tender service for several shipping companies.
Gary and Juli started selling pilchards (a baitfish in the herring family) wholesale in 1991 and retail (on the north side of the 17th Street Causeway, next to Pier Sixty-Six) in 2005. For 28 years, they caught all the bait themselves until 2012 when the couple semi-retired and started buying the bait to sell. The pilchards are fed every day and Gary works with a wholesaler to make sure the quality of the bait remains as high as when they personally caught it. Juli is who you see in these photos and she is still out there every day selling her bait.
“There is nothing like coming out of my canal to see the sun rising over Pier Sixty-Six, the parrots squawking over my head, an osprey diving for mullet, manatees visiting, watching my daughter kayak swiftly by and a friendly customer pulling up for bait. The best of all worlds. I love my job!”— Juli Krebs