Jan. 3-4: Fish for Holly Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. Created to raise money for Florida Keys scholarships and domestic violence initiatives, this memorial tournament honors the late Holly Given, a Keys resident and avid angler. Participants are to gather at Whale Harbor Marina to compete for top male, female and junior angler awards as well as top offshore, bay boat and fun fish categories. Visit fishforholly.com/tournament/.
Jan. 7-9: Florida Keys Outfitters SailFly Tournament. Islamorada. This time of year the weather is ideal for a hot Atlantic sailfish bite. Enter for a chance to compete in one of the toughest and most exciting angling events of the year. Call Sandy Moret at 305-664-5423, visit floridakeysoutfitters.com and search “Sailfly entry” or visit the facebook.com/floridakeysoutfitters events tab.
Jan. 16-19: Key West Kingfish Mayhem. Key West and the Lower Keys. Headquartered at Stock Island Marina Village, this four-species event enhances what was formerly a king mackerel tournament by adding tuna, mahi and wahoo. Anglers are to vie for cash prizes. Visit meatmayhemtournamentsfl.com/key-west-kingfish-mayhem/ or call 954-605-8282.
Jan. 20-21: 31st Annual Al Flutie Over the Hill Rip-Off Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. Dubbed “almost too much fun for old guys to handle,” the tournament is locally referred to as the Flutie, welcomes anglers age 50 and over. Proceeds benefit "Catch the Cure" for Cystic Fibrosis and the Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens, providing life services to Monroe County's adult intellectually disabled residents. Visit marchouse.org/content/fundraisers.
Jan. 24-26: Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. The Presidential is one of the most prestigious offshore tournaments in the Florida Keys and serves as the second leg of the three-pronged Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship. Visit cheeca.com/presidential or email LThornhill@cheeca.com.
Jan. 29-30: IFC Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. Presented by the Islamorada Fishing Club, the event this year is the final leg of the three-pronged Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship series. It typically draws a field of up to 30 boat teams of elite sport fishermen. A total cash payout for a full field at the IFC Sailfish Tournament could reach $30,000. Visit theislamoradafishingclub.com.
Jan. 30 – Feb. 1: Cuda Bowl. Key West and the Lower Keys. 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 awarded to the top angler and guide in light-tackle, spin and fly divisions. Visit cudabowl.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan. 31 – Feb. 1: Swamp Guides Ball. Islamorada. Sponsored by the Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association, this all-release event offers team and individual awards to anglers for bonefish, redfish and snook. Anglers fish the shallows of the Florida Keys and the saltwater fringes of the Everglades. Social events are to be headquartered at the Lorelei Restaurant & Cabana Bar. Visit fkfga.org.
Feb. 4-5: Poor Girls Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. This regional charity competition raises monies to spay and neuter feral cats in the Upper Keys. Trophies are awarded to first-, second- and third-place teams, grand champion and runner-up grand champion anglers as well as for the largest dolphin fish, kingfish and tuna, among others. Visit castingforcats.org/poor-girls-sailfish-tournament.
Feb. 7-9: 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 fish; kingfish; and hard luck. Proceeds benefit Keys charities. Call 305-240-9337 or email email@example.com.
Feb. 9-10: Islamorada Bartenders Sailfish Open. Islamorada. Headquartered at the Lorelei Restaurant & Cabana Bar, this fun fishing event is only for actively employed bartenders and restaurant employees. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feb. 28-29: Costa 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 1 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.
March 3-7: Jimmy Johnson’s National Billfish Championship. Key Largo. Hosted by Jimmy Johnson, two-time Super Bowl–winning coach and former head coach at the University of Miami, the prestigious event benefits the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and other charities. Anglers on the winning boat receive custom-designed Jimmy Johnson's NBC Championship rings. Visit jjfishweek.com.
March 9-12: March Merkin Invitational Permit Tournament. Key West and the Lower Keys. 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 24-26: Redbone @ Large Sunrise/Sunset Tarpon Tournament. Islamorada. The Upper Keys competition is one of dozens of fishing events held each year whose proceeds benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Visit redbone.org, contact Susan Ellis at 305-664-2002 or email email@example.com.
April 26-29: Herman Lucerne Memorial Tarpon Cup. Islamorada. This is an old school “downtown Islamorada’” tournament to be headquartered at the Islander Resort. True to the Herman Lucerne spirit of inclusiveness, the Tarpon Cup includes both a guided and an unguided division. Teams are limited to 20. Organizers hope the HLM Tarpon Cup will be regarded as a classic part of the spring Florida Keys fishing tournament schedule. Visit hermanlucernememorial.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 1-3: Marathon Offshore Bull and Cow Dolphin Tournament. Marathon. Over $30,000 in cash and prizes awaits the top anglers who catch the largest bull and cow dolphin fish combined, while other prizes are awarded to anglers catching the largest dolphin, wahoo, tuna and tripletail. Visit marathonoffshoretournament.com.
May 1-3: 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 $170,000 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 2-6: Tarponian Tournament. Marathon. Rules of this high-energy three-evening tournament mandate that each team fishes 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 email@example.com.
May 17-21: Faro Blanco Invitational Tarpon Tournament. Marathon. This unique team tournament in the heart of tarpon season, with two to four anglers per team/boat, allows anglers to fish three nights with three different captains at three different bridges: Bahia Honda, Long Key and the world-famous Seven Mile Bridge(s). Proceeds from this charity tournament benefit Ronald McDonald House. Contact Donna Vankirk at 305-393-0699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 18-20: Golden Fly Invitational Tarpon Tournament. Islamorada. Special flies, skillful, accurate casts and a bit of luck are the recipe to win this prestigious challenge limited to 25 anglers. Competitors use a tournament-furnished tippet not greater than 16-pound test. Eligible tarpon must weigh at least 70 pounds to score weight points. Visit goldenfly.org.
May 29-31: Sixth Annual Skippers Dolphin Tournament. Key Largo. This tournament is headquartered at Skippers Dockside Restaurant behind Key Largo’s Holiday Inn. Cash prizes of over $60,000 include a first-place prize of $20,000 as well as prizes for the top six teams and top lady and junior anglers. Visit skipperstournaments.com or email email@example.com.
June 1-5: 46th Annual Don Hawley Tarpon Fly Tournament. Islamorada. Up to 25 of 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 tournament benefits the Guides Trust Foundation, assisting professional fishing guides and supporting backcountry fishery conservation programs. Visit guidestrustfoundation.org.
June 5-7: Original Big Pine & Lower Keys Dolphin Tournament. Big Pine Key. The Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce presents this annual event where anglers contend for over $35,000 in cash prizes and awards. A special cash prize of $20,000 is awarded for the largest dolphin fish over 50 pounds. Additional prizes await winners in open, ladies and youth divisions. Visit lowerkeyschamber.com/tournaments.php or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 9-11: Ladies Tarpon Fly Tournament. Islamorada. An all-release invitational tournament, this event represents a rich history of premier lady fly anglers who love the sport of saltwater fishing in the shallow waters of Islamorada and Florida Bay. Visit facebook.com/keystarpon or email email@example.com.
June 12-13: Seventh Annual Ladies Dolphin Tournament. Tavernier. Hosted by the Florida Keys Elks Lodge, this event welcomes female angler teams to compete for 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 12-14: “Ladies Let’s Go Fishing” Screamin’ Reels Tournament. Islamorada. Intended for novice anglers, this weekend is about learning and a nonintimidating, fun competition with the “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” university organizers. Species include legal inshore and offshore fish. Participants can charter a professional boat or fish on their own boat. The casual tournament features prizes for the heaviest offshore fish and longest inshore fish as well as drawings for prizes. Visit ladiesletsgofishing.com/or call Betty Bauman at 954-475-9068.
June 15-19: 57th Annual Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament. Islamorada. This annual challenge appeals to “tarpon addicts” and both experienced and novice anglers apply to compete in what is referred to locally as the “Wimbledon of tarpon fishing.” Headquartered at the Lorelei Restaurant and Marina, the all-release event is limited to 25 anglers by invitation only. Partial proceeds benefit the Guides Trust Foundation of the Florida Keys. Visit goldcuptt.com.
June 24-25: IFC Captains Cup Dolphin Tournament. Islamorada. Teams of up to four anglers compete for top prizes, and the total combined weight of three fish determines the winning team. If up to 25 boats register, first-prize cash winnings can reach $25,000. Visit theislamoradafishingclub.com/.
July 18-21: 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 Keys. Professionals and guides are allowed to compete as well. Visit delbrownpermittournament.com or email email@example.com.
July 22-25: Stock Island Marina Village 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, tuna, wahoo or released sailfish) per day to add to their point total. Visit keywestmarlin.com.
Sept. 11-13: 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, call 305-664-2002 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sept. 18-20: Herman Lucerne Memorial Backcountry Fishing Championship. Islamorada. Named after the man known affectionately as “Mr. Everglades,” the event is headquartered at the Islander Resort. Anglers are challenged to target fish in multiple species only in the boundaries of Everglades National Park, fishing areas that Lucerne favored. Visit hermanlucernememorial.com, call Kellie Trotta at 561-346-3193 or email email@example.com.
Sept. 25-27: Take Stock in Children Backcountry Challenge. Key Largo. This annual tournament offers anglers the opportunity to win coveted trophies for 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. TBA: Robert-James Sales Baybone Celebrity Tournament. Islamorada. The second tournament in the Redbone Trilogy 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, call 305-664-2002 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oct. 11-14: 50th Annual Islamorada All-Tackle Bonefish & Permit Championship. Islamorada. Dubbed the “Fall All-Tackle,” the three-day 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. Contact Kellie Trotta at 561-346-3193 or email email@example.com.
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 1 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: “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” Keys Fishing University. Islamorada. Female fishing fans can learn or polish angling skills during the award-winning weekend seminar. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nov. 6-8: 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, call 305-664-2002 or email email@example.com.
November 12-14: Cheeca Lodge & Spa All-American Backcountry Tournament. Islamorada. Anglers compete for prizes and trophies in this annual event targeting snook, redfish, bonefish, tarpon and permit. The tournament salutes war heroes and proceeds benefit the Guides Trust Foundation. Highlights include a beachside barbecue and an awards banquet characteristic of Cheeca’s casual elegance. Visit cheeca.com/allamerican or email LThornhill@cheeca.com.
Dec. 3-6: Islamorada Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. The first leg of the triple-crown Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship series is the only tournament in the series to offer a junior division for anglers ages 16 and younger. Unlimited anglers are allowed per vessel. Visit islamoradasailfishtournament.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dec. TBA: Islamorada Junior Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. The Florida Keys’ oldest sailfish tournament for kids ages 16 and under, this event has been held since 1964. Contact email@example.com or call 305-240-9337.
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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