02 November 2016
Jan. 6-8: Key Largo Sailfish Challenge. Key Largo. Held at the height of the sailfish season, this event follows a boat-tournament format. Prizes and trophies await first-, second- and third-place teams, and proceeds benefit the Coral Shores High School Band program. Call 305-240-9337 or email fishnbully@msn.com.   
Jan. 19-21: Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. The Presidential is one of the most prestigious offshore tournaments in the Florida Keys, and is the second leg of the three-pronged Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship. The event features two days of 12-pound line light-tackle fishing at the beautiful Cheeca Lodge & Spa. Visit cheeca.com/experience/fishing/.
Jan. 25-26: IFC Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. Presented by the Islamorada Fishing Club, the tournament is the final leg of the three-pronged Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship series and typically draws a field of up to 30 boat teams of elite sport fishermen. The total cash payout for a full field at the IFC Sailfish Tournament could reach $30,000. Visit theislamoradafishingclub.com.
Feb. 2-4: Cuda Bowl. Key West. Shallow-water flats anglers and guides are invited to hook up and fight their barracuda rivals. The event is headquartered at Hurricane Hole Marina on Stock Island. Prizes are to be awarded to the top angler and guide in light-tackle spin and fly divisions. Visit cudabowl.com or email info@cudabowl.com
Feb. 3-4: Swamp Guides Ball. Islamorada. This all-release event offers fishing for bonefish, redfish and snook in the shallows of the Florida Keys and the saltwater fringes of the Everglades. Visit fkfga.org/swampguidesball.html.
Feb. 3-5: Islamorada Women’s Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. In this light-tackle challenge, awards await the grand champion team (boat), first runner-up and second runner-up team, captain and mate. Other awards are presented for the high-point angler, outstanding catch, largest tuna, dolphin and kingfish, most tagged sailfish and hard luck. Proceeds aid the Ocean Studies Charter School. Call 305-240-9337 or email fishnbully@msn.com.
Feb. 12-13: Islamorada Bartenders Sailfish Open. Islamorada. This fun fishing event is only for actively employed bartenders and restaurant workers. Trophies are awarded to individual anglers as well as the bar a team represents, with the huge perpetual trophy going to the winners along with bragging rights for the year. Contact Dianne Harbaugh at 305-522-4868 or email ditournaments@aol.com.
Feb. 24-25: Spring Backcountry Fly Championship Series. Islamorada. Tournament anglers are to compete to catch the most inches of snook and redfish on fly in a challenge where one inch equals one point. Awards are to be given to the grand champion and runner-up, and to the anglers who catch the largest snook and redfish. The field is limited to 30 boats. Visit BFCtournament.com.
Feb. 24-26: Islamorada Winter Classic. Islamorada. This family-formatted boat tournament features nine offshore target species. Trophies are to be awarded to top boat teams in weight and release categories, as well as private vessel and charter divisions. Junior and teen divisional winners also are awarded. Call 305-522-4868 or email islamoradafishingclassics@aol.com.
March 7-10: Jim Bokor’s Islamorada All-Tackle Spring Bonefish & Redfish Shootout. Islamorada. Anglers vie for top-honor trophies for catches of bonefish and redfish in this event that is formatted to appeal to a broad spectrum of anglers. Divisions include bait, artificial and fly, and an overall grand champion is to be named for each species. Additional awards go to the high-point angler each day. Email fishnfever@bellsouth.net.
March 8-11: Jimmy Johnson’s National Billfish Championship. Key Largo. Hosted by Jimmy Johnson, two-time Super Bowl–winning coach and former head football coach at the University of Miami, the prestigious event benefits the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a South Florida–based cancer research, diagnosis and treatment facility, as well as other charities. Anglers on the winning boat receive custom-designed Jimmy Johnson's NBC Championship rings. Visit jjfishweek.com.
March 13-16: March Merkin Invitational Permit Tournament. Key West. This charity flats- and fly-only tournament challenges anglers to catch, tag and release silvery permit to vie for elite titles. The event is held at the Key West Harbour Yacht Club on Stock Island. Visit marchmerkin.com.
April 7-9: Key West Fishing Tournament Kickoff. Key West. Traditionally, 15 target species and $5,000 in cash prizes await anglers. Participants vie for cash awards for catching the heaviest dolphin, kingfish, cobia, blackfin tuna, mackerel, mutton snapper, wahoo, mangrove snapper and grunt. In addition, cash awaits boat teams that score the most releases of tarpon, permit, bonefish, barracuda, marlin and sailfish. Awards also are presented each year in the junior division for anglers under age 15. Visit keywestfishingtournament.com.
April 7 – Nov. 30: Key West Fishing Tournament. Key West. Nearly 40 species of fish are targeted during the multimonth tournament, with divisions for men, women, junior anglers (ages 10 to 14) and Pee Wees (under 10 years old). The Key West Fishing Tournament strongly encourages the release of game fish. All participating anglers receive certificates noting their catches and qualify for a variety of prizes. Visit keywestfishingtournament.com.
April 25-30: The Final Sail. Key West. This four-day challenge is the “grand finale” of the four-leg Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series. Team cash prizes include up to $50,000 for first place and $18,000 and $10,000 to second- and third-place teams, respectively, in addition to trophies. Visit bluewatermovements.com/final_sail/.
April 28-30: Islamorada Spring Classic. Islamorada. This family-formatted boat tournament targets nine gulf and backcountry species. Trophies are awarded to the top boat teams in weight and release categories, as well as private vessel and charter divisions. Junior and teen divisional winners also are awarded. Contact Dianne Harbaugh at 305-522-4868 or email islamoradafishingclassics@aol.com.
April 29 – May 3: Tarponian Tournament. Marathon. Rules of this high-energy three-evening tournament mandate that a team fish with a different captain each evening. Teams also rotate among the three major bridge channels in Marathon so any potential “hot spots” are shared among all anglers. Call 215-542-1492 or email dbreznicky@breznickyassociates.com.
April 30 – May 3: Cheeca Lodge and Spa Tarpon Invitational. Islamorada. In this new challenge, fly anglers use only a tournament-furnished maximum 16-pound tippet to land tarpon that must measure at least 48 inches. Call 305-587-1460 or email fishnfever@bellsouth.net.
May 5-7: Marathon Offshore Bull and Cow Dolphin Tournament. Marathon. Over $30,000 in cash and prizes awaits the top anglers with the largest bull and cow combined, while other prizes are awarded to anglers catching the largest dolphin fish, wahoo, tuna and tripletail. Visit marathonoffshoretournament.com.
May 5-7: Nick Sheahan Dolphin Rodeo. Islamorada. Honoring the memory of Nick Sheahan, a Florida Keys student, this tournament benefits a namesake community scholarship fund that has distributed over $154,000 to date. Hosted at Tavernier Creek Marina, the event features cash prizes and $25,000 to the angler with a dolphin fish that beats the state record. Visit nicksheahan.com.
May 19-21: Florida Keys Dolphin Championship. Florida Keys. In this Keys-wide dolphin challenge, anglers can fish one tournament from Key Largo to Key West and weigh in their catch at five locations. An unlimited number of anglers can join a team in this boat/team event. Visit floridakeysdolphinchampionship.com.
May 19-21: Key West Co-Ed Mahi Masters. Key West. Cash prizes are awarded to the male and female angler team scoring the highest total combined weight of three dolphin (mahi-mahi) catches. There is no limit on the number of participating boats. Call 305-296-0364 or email lee@murraymarine.com.
May 21-24: Loop Golden Fly Invitational Tarpon Tournament. Islamorada. Special flies, accurate casts and a bit of luck are anglers’ recipe for winning this prestigious challenge, while using only a tournament-furnished maximum 16-pound tippet. Eligible tarpon must measure at least 48 inches in length to earn release points and weigh at least 70 pounds for weight points. Call 305-587-1460 or email fishnfever@bellsouth.net.
May 27-28: The Annual Long Walk Home Fishing Tournament. Key Largo. Headquartered at Key Largo Fisheries, events include a Pirate’s Treasure Raffle, music, silent auction, two days of fishing and an awards dinner. Cash and trophy prizes are to be awarded. Proceeds benefit the Long Walk Home Veterans Charity Community Outreach. Contact Ron Zaleski at 305-504-3795 or email thelongwalkhomeinc@gmail.com.
June 2-4: Skippers Dolphin Tournament. Key Largo. This tournament is headquartered at Skippers Dockside Restaurant behind Key Largo’s Holiday Inn. Kickoff and final registration are set for June 2 with fishing days June 3 and 4. Cash prizes of over $60,000 include a first-place prize of $25,000 as well as prizes for the top six teams and top lady and junior anglers. Visit skipperstournaments.com or email ditournaments@aol.com.
June 2-4: Original Big Pine & Lower Keys Dolphin Tournament. Big Pine Key. Anglers contend for more than $35,000 in cash prizes and awards during the annual event presented by the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce. A special cash prize of $20,000 is awarded for the largest dolphin over 50 pounds. Additional prizes await winners in the open, ladies and youth divisions. Visit lowerkeyschamber.com/tournaments.php or email executivedirector@lowerkeyschamber.com.
June 4-9: Don Hawley Tarpon Fly Tournament. Islamorada. The world’s top fly-rod anglers endure a five-day test of patience and finesse, fishing Keys waters using fly tackle and 12-pound tippet. Named for the late fly fisherman and conservationist Don Hawley, the annual tournament benefits the Guides Trust Foundation, assisting professional fishing guides and supporting backcountry fishery conservation programs. Visit guidestrustfoundation.org or email fishnfever@bellsouth.net.
June 9-10: Fifth Annual Ladies Dolphin Tournament. Tavernier. Hosted by the Florida Keys Elks Lodge, this event welcomes female angler teams to compete to catch the highest aggregate weight of three dolphin fish. Cash and prizes are awarded to first- through third-place finishers, and for the largest dolphin caught. Visit floridakeyselks1872.com or email ditournaments@aol.com.
June 13-15: Ladies Tarpon Fly Tournament. Islamorada. An all-release invitational tournament, this annual event represents a rich history of premier lady fly anglers who love saltwater fishing in the shallow waters of Islamorada and Florida Bay. Visit facebook.com/keystarpon or email heidinute@yahoo.com.
June 17-18: “Ladies, Let's Go Fishing!” Offshore/Inshore Anyone Can Win Tournament. Islamorada. The weekend of learning, fun and casual, non-intimidating competition begins with a Saturday evening tournament kickoff, rules discussion and presentation on fishing. Sunday features fishing for offshore and inshore species followed by awards and prize giveaways. Visit ladiesletsgofishing.com or email info@ladiesletsgofishing.com.
June 19-23: Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament. Islamorada. This annual challenge appeals to “tarpon addicts.” Both experienced and novice anglers can apply to compete and the event is limited to 25 anglers by invitation only. Proceeds are to benefit the Florida Keys’ fishing industry’s Guides Trust Foundation. Visit goldcuptt.com or email infodept@goldcuptt.com.
June 23-24: University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame Celebrity Dolphin Tournament. Islamorada. Anglers can fish with former Miami Hurricanes All-Stars in the tournament that features cash prizes for the heaviest dolphin fish. Other attractions include a charity auction. Visit canesfish.com or email judy@canesfish.com.
July 7-9: Islamorada Summer Classic. Islamorada. This family-formatted boat tournament features nine target backcountry and oceanside species. Trophies are awarded to the top boat teams in weight and release categories, as well as private vessel and charter divisions. Junior and teen divisional winners also are awarded. Contact Dianne Harbaugh at 305-522-4868 or email islamoradafishingclassics@aol.com.
July 8-11: Del Brown Permit Tournament. Key West. Anglers fly-fish on the flats in a challenge that honors the late angling pioneer Del Brown, who caught and released more than 500 permit off the Florida Keys. Professionals and guides are allowed to compete as well. Visit delbrownpermittournament.com or email lorenrea@icloud.com.
July 10-12: Islamorada Fly Dolphin Tournament. Islamorada. This new fly-fishing event features three-person angler teams competing for cash and prizes. Contact Dianne Harbaugh at 305-522-4868 or email ditournaments@aol.com.
July 14-16: Marathon Marlin Tournament. Marathon. First- through third-place teams are to compete for marlin division trophies as well as fun fish awards for the three heaviest dolphin fish, wahoo and tuna (yellowfin, blackfin and skipjack). The top-scoring team in the tournament is to be entitled to free entry into the following week's Key West Marlin Tournament. Visit marathonmarlin.com or keywestmarlin.com, or email tim.greene@keywestmarlin.com.
July 19-22: Bacardi Oakheart Key West Marlin Tournament. Key West. Anglers ply the waters once fished by novelist Ernest Hemingway, vying for $50,000 in guaranteed cash prizes. Held in conjunction with Key West’s annual Hemingway Days festival, the event awards $25,000 to the first-place team. Teams can enter one fun fish (dolphin fish, tuna, wahoo or released sailfish) per day to add to their point total. Visit keywestmarlin.com or email tim.greene@keywestmarlin.com.
Sept. 8-10: Robert James Sales S.L.A.M. Celebrity Tournament. Key West. In the first of three tournaments in the annual Redbone Celebrity Tournament Series, also called the Trilogy, anglers target tarpon, permit and bonefish to achieve the coveted “flats grand slam.” The event raises funds for the fight against cystic fibrosis. Visit redbone.org or email susan@redbone.org.
Sept. 15-17: 18th Annual Herman Lucerne Memorial Backcountry Fishing Championship. Islamorada. Named after the man known affectionately as “Mr. Everglades,” the event is headquartered at the Islander Resort, A Guy Harvey Outpost. Anglers are challenged to target fish in multiple species only within the boundaries of Everglades National Park, fishing areas that Lucerne favored. Visit hermanlucernememorial.com or email kelliet62@gmail.com.
Sept 21-24: Marathon International Bonefish Tournament. Marathon. This challenge recognizes individual and team champions scoring the largest bonefish and permit, and the top anglers in fly and grand slam divisions (for the top spin or fly angler who releases the largest bonefish, permit and tarpon “slam”). The event is one of the few tournaments where anglers can fish without a professional guide. Call 305-304-8682 or email bnbfishing@comcast.net.  
Sept. 22-24: Take Stock in Children Backcountry Challenge. Key Largo. This annual tournament offers anglers the opportunity to win coveted trophies for catching trout, snook and redfish. A popular weekend auction showcase and Sunday evening dinner are open to the public. Proceeds support local vocational scholarships for all ages and Take Stock in Children scholarships for financially challenged Upper Keys students. Visit keylargorotary.org/.
Oct. 6-8: Robert James Sales Baybone Celebrity Tournament. Islamorada. The second tournament in the Redbone Trilogy series targets permit and bonefish to raise money for cystic fibrosis research. Past participants include legendary angler Stu Apte, former Denver Bronco and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mark Cooper and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs. Visit redbone.org or email susan@redbone.org.
Oct. 8-11: Islamorada Fall All-Tackle Bonefish & Permit Championship. Islamorada. Dubbed the “Fall All-Tackle,” the fishing challenge attracts energized newcomers to face seasoned veterans in a competition that has taken place since 1970. One angler per boat pairs with a licensed captain to vie for division winners’ trophies for the three longest bonefish and three longest permit. The field is limited to 25 participants. Call 305-587-1460 or email fishnfever@bellsouth.net.
Oct. 27-28: Fall Backcountry Fly Championship Series. Islamorada. Tournament anglers are to compete to catch the most inches of snook and redfish on fly in a challenge where one inch equals one point. Awards are to be given to the series grand champion, the anglers who catch the largest snook and redfish, and the king of the backcountry, among others. Visit BFCtournament.com.
Oct. TBA: 10th Annual Mad Dog Mandich Inshore & Offshore Fishing Classic. Islamorada. Anglers compete in an offshore division targeting dolphin fish, kingfish, tuna, wahoo, snapper and grouper; and an inshore division targeting mangrove snapper, spotted sea trout, redfish, snook and tarpon. The boat/team tournament is headquartered at the Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina and a portion of the proceeds benefits Mariners Hospital Oncology Services. Visit maddogclassic.com/fl-keys.
Nov. 3-5: Robert James Sales Redbone Celebrity Tournament. Islamorada. Celebrities join other anglers to catch bonefish and redfish to raise money for cystic fibrosis research in the final event of the annual Redbone Trilogy tournament series. Visit redbone.org or email susan@redbone.org
November TBA: Cheeca Lodge & Spa All-American Backcountry Tournament. Islamorada. Anglers compete for prizes and trophies in an annual event targeting snook, redfish, bonefish, tarpon and permit. Highlights include a beachside barbecue and an awards banquet characteristic of Cheeca Lodge’s casual elegance. Proceeds benefit the Guides Trust Foundation. Visit cheeca.com/experience/fishing.
Nov. 17-19: “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” Annual Keys Fishing University for Women. Islamorada. Female fishing fans can learn or polish angling skills during the award-winning weekend seminar. To date, more than 8,000 female graduates have immersed themselves in the lighthearted yet skill-heavy curriculum to learn and hone abilities in offshore, bottom, inshore and fly fishing. Visit ladiesletsgofishing.com or email fish@ladiesletsgofishing.com.
Nov. 30 – Dec. 3: Islamorada Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. The first leg of the triple-crown Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship series is the only challenge in the series to offer a junior division for anglers age 16 and younger. Unlimited anglers are allowed per vessel. Visit islamoradasailfishtournament.com/ or email ditournaments@aol.com.
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
Florida Keys fishing information: fla-keys.com/fishing
Florida Keys fishing tournaments: fla-keys.com/tdcfishingcalendar.cfm
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