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2022 Florida Keys Fishing Tournament Highlights: January Through June

Dec. 1, 2021 – July 31, 2022: Key West Fishing Tournament. Key West. More than 40 species of fish are targeted during the multimonth tournament, with divisions for men, women, junior anglers (ages 10 to 15) 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.

Jan. 4-6: Islamorada SailFly Tournament. Islamorada. This time of year, the weather is typically ideal for a hot Atlantic sailfish bite. Entrants can compete in one of the toughest and most exciting angling events of the year. Call Randy Towe at 305-394-2667 or email islamoradasailfly@yahoo.com.

Jan. 7-8: Fish for Holly Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. Created to raise money for 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 Postcard Inn to compete for top male, female and junior angler awards as well top team and fun fish categories. Visit fishforholly.com/tournament/.

Jan. 13-16: 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-mahi and wahoo. Anglers are to vie for cash prizes. Visit meatmayhemtournaments.com/event/key-west-kingfish-mayhem-2022/.

Jan. 21-23: 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.

Jan. 26-27: IFC Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. Presented by the Islamorada Fishing Club, the event this year is the third and final leg of the three-pronged Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship series, attracting 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 - 31: 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 a year. Contact Dianne Harbaugh at 305-522-4868 or email ditournaments@aol.com.

Feb. 1-2: 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 the 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. 4-6: 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 and kingfish; and hard luck. Proceeds benefit Florida Keys charities. Call 305-240-9337 or email fishnbully@msn.com.

Feb. 10-12: 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 info@cudabowl.com.

Feb. 25-26: 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 1-5: Jimmy Johnson's National Billfish Championship. 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. Participants fish in 100 miles of waters from Key Largo to Palm Beach. Visit jjfishweek.com.

March 7-10: 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 8-10: Robert-James Sales 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.

April 24-28: Herman Lucerne Memorial Tarpon Cup. Islamorada. This is an old school, "downtown Islamorada" kind of tournament. True to the Herman Lucerne spirit of inclusiveness, the Tarpon Cup includes both guided and unguided divisions. Teams are limited to 20. Visit hermanlucernememorial.com.

May 1-4: Tarponian Tournament. Marathon. Rules of this high-energy three-evening tournament mandate that each team fishes with a different captain each outing. 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.

May 5-7: 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 6-8: 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 16-19: 35th Annual 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 of the four nights with three different captains at three different bridges: Bahia Honda, Long Key and the world-famous Seven Mile. Proceeds from the charity tournament benefit Ronald McDonald House. Contact Donna Vankirk at 305-393-0699 or captdonna1@aol.com.

June 3-5: Eighth 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 ditournaments@aol.com.

June 3-5: 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 cash prize of $20,000 is given for the largest dolphin fish over 50 pounds. Additional prizes await winners in open, ladies and youth divisions. Visit lowerkeyschamber.com/chamber-events/.

June 7-11: 47th 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 10-11: 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 ditournaments@aol.com.

June 10-12: '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. Participants can charter a professional boat or fish on their own boat. This is a casual tournament with prizes for the heaviest offshore fish and longest inshore fish, drawings for prizes for those who caught fish and bonus drawings. Visit ladiesletsgofishing.com/.

June 17-19: VFW Fishing Tournament. Key West. A family fun tournament, this event awards over $15,000 in total cash and prizes including $5,000 for the heaviest dolphin fish. All proceeds benefit disabled and needy veterans in Monroe County. Call 610-304-2392, email psty2k@yahoo.com or visit vfwpost3911.org/fishing/.

June 20-24: 59th 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 28-29: 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/.

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/calendar/fishing
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