Fishing line that is! Springtime starts a major round of fishing tournaments throughout the Florida Keys. Fishermen from around the world come to enjoy some spectacular and challenging fishing championships involving all the best sport fish in the Atlantic Ocean and in the Florida Bay.
Now while I am not a professional fisherman by any means I do like to cast my line out and see what I can reel in. After all, what’s not to like with a day on the water – an aquamarine sea, gorgeous blue sky overhead and a gentle breeze to help keep you cool. Now that’s the life!
Starting at the furthest island from the Florida mainland, Key West, you can join in the Inaugural Key West Sailfish Tournament from April 3rd -7th. There is both a Pro and Non-Pro division so come on down and try your hand at catching this spectacular species. Entry fees are $1800 and $1500 respectively and prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. First place prize is valued at $50K Pro and $15K Non Pro. 5% of these payouts will be donated to the Jose Wajebe Spanish Fly Memorial Foundation and The Billfish Foundation. All action takes place from a boat with 6 anglers allowed in each boat as well as being able to participate in all social events. Visit www.keywestsailfishchampionship.com for more information.
Not to be left out, from April 5th – 7th there is a Key West Fishing Tournament Kickoff where 15 other species are targeted with $5K in cash prizes being awarded for the heaviest dolphin, kingfish, cobia. Blackfin tuna, mackerel, mutton snapper, wahoo, mangrove snapper and grunt. There is also a prize for the boat team that releases the most tarpon, permit, bonefish, barracuda, marlin and sailfish. Even junior anglers, under the age of 15, can try their hand at winning.
If you hang around for the following week, you can take part in the World Sailfish Championship held from April 10th-14th .
This world championship has paid out over $10M in the past 10 years! Wow!. In 2012 alone, cash prizes totaled more than $1M and there was more than 652 catch and releases! This year the grand prize is certainly nothing to sneeze at coming in at $100,000!
There is an Open Division for any level of competitor, a non-professional division for those that are a little more skilled and that have not participated in more than 3 sailfish tournaments in the last year, a Charity Division where the entry fee and winnings are donated to charity, a women’s division and a junior division. These last two divisions are trophy and recognition prizes only.
There is entertainment each evening including cocktails and even a Duval Crawl Party. On Wednesday, Apirl 10th, there will be an F5 Military Fly Over at the Westin Resort & Marina and an Awards Banquet at the finish. Visit www.worldsailfish.com for more information.
Working your way up the Keys, stop in at Islamorada for their Redbone at Large Sunrise/Sunset Tarpon Tournament from April 26th -28th. This tournament is one of 40 held during the year and benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Highlights of this tournament include a welcome reception including cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction as well as a daily breakfast, dockside lunch and beach buffet. Visit www.redbone.org for more information.
At the end of the month, Marathon hosts the Tarponian Tournament from April 28th – May 1st. It has an interesting premise, in that you must fish with a different captain each of the 3 evenings. Each evening you fish at a different bridge channel and everyone is hoping that they are the one to hit the “hot spot” so they can come out on top.
There are even more tournaments throughout the summer so keep in touch and I’ll let you know what’s coming up. Good fishing!