Off the beaten path would be an understatement! One desolate road leading to the next, you know you are close and find yourself squinting your eyes in hopes of spotting the small entrance that leads onto the long private driveway to Victor’s Port St. Lucie paradise. Half way down the drive, the aroma of Jamaican cuisine confirms you are in the right place.
The property is peppered with 40 meticulously kept ponds, containing approximately 1.5 million tropical aquarium fish. Victor has been raising these exotic fish since he was six years old growing up in Jamaica. As Victor guides us around the impressive 20 acres on a golf cart, he reflects on the paths that lead him to where he is today.
Migrating from Jamaica with his wife, Judy, in 1980, Victor found a job farming aquarium fish. After many years of working vigorously under another’s direction, Victor stepped out on his own, and has successfully maintained his own tropical fish operation for 11 years.
Taking a look around the farm, it is very clear Victor’s business is run meticulously. The grass around the ponds is close cut and maintained, there are electric fences lining the ponds to ensure predators don’t enter, and the fish room containing hundreds of moving parts is running flawlessly.
This is all reminiscent and reflective of Victor’s rod building.
As we enter Victor’s home, we are introduced to his wife, Judy, who is hard at work preparing food for a family get together. Immediately to the left of the front door is a room closed off by French doors. This is Victor’s rod room. Stepping into the inner sanctum of this room, your senses are overwhelmed; the amount of colors inside would most likely be visible from space.
Along the walls are rods built by Victor, and not one of them is alike; so carefully and skillfully done, they resemble art work. Neatly lining the wall under his workbench are colorful EVA handle kits waiting to transform a blank into a master piece.
The amount of thread work and EVA work alone boggles the mind, and would leave any rod builder contemplating the thousands of hours sitting in front of a wrapper.
Victor says his interest in rod building stemmed from his desire to find rods that met his ideal specifications, and to create something more aesthetically pleasing. With the guidance from Mud Hole Custom Tackle, John Stumpe, and Tom Kirkman’s “Rod Building Guide,” Victor launched into building his first rod.
Instantly he was hooked. Victor’s attention to detail and patience became evident in the quality and creativity of his rods. Victor began bringing some of his completed rods into Mud Hole’s showroom and quickly became a celebrity.
He had every employee in the store coming to admire his work. His first rods surpassed many builders’ lifetime acquired abilities.
With six years of rod building under his belt, this humble rod builder has easily found his way to the top tier of builders in the world. His decorative wraps are pristine, vibrant, and full of depth.
Victor produces custom EVA handles so unique; you would think a machine manufactured them. Though Victor’s work is nonpareil, he remains the soft-spoken modest man he was the first time he entered Mud Hole’s doors.
With retirement in his sights, Victor hopes to up his rod building production significantly. Aside from this, Victor plans on spending more days on the water doing some research and development.
Victor is the owner/operator of VJ Custom Rods. Check him out on Facebook, and his website www.vjrods.com.