UNION COUNTY, Ga. — Longtime fishing guide Michael J. Collins, 71, of Islamorada, died after his private plane crashed Wednesday, Oct. 13, in northern Georgia. He was piloting the craft and was its sole occupant.

Collins, a former member of the South Florida Water Management District governing board and former commodore of the Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association, owned a second home in Morganton, Ga., where he had been staying, according to the North Georgia News.

He had just taken off from the Blairsville Municipal Airport for Florida when the crash occurred about 2 miles north of the airport, the news outlet reported. Witnesses told law enforcement that the plane's engine was sputtering before the plane clipped trees and crashed near Lake Nottely. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.

Collins is survived by his wife, Kym, a former Islamorada councilwoman.