Father-and-Son Duo Wins Key Largo’s Take Stock in Children Backcountry Challenge

KEY LARGO, Florida Keys — A father-and-son duo from South Florida earned top honors at Key Largo’s annual Take Stock in Children Backcountry Challenge that ended Sept. 24. James Hobales, guided by his father, Captain Jim Hobales, took the backcountry champion title with the highest combined length of one snook, redfish and trout.

The younger Hobales tallied 73 combined inches, a total that also gave his father the title of top guide in the annual catch-and-release fish-a-thon. Both men split their time between homes in Key Largo and Hialeah.

“I was very pleased with my son winning top angler — he’s been trying for a long time,” said Captain Hobales, who has brought teams to the tournament for the past 10 years.

The junior backcountry champion title went to 15-year-old Michael Snyder of Tavernier, Florida, also with a combined three-fish total of 73 inches. His 26.5-inch redfish and 21-inch trout each won first place in his division.

Snyder’s guide, Captain KC Spaulding of Islamorada, Florida, was named top pro with a combined length of 69.5 inches of snook, redfish and trout.

Adult division winners included Key Largo’s Jimmy Ehrenkaufer with the largest snook at 29.75 inches. Harlan Richardson, also from Key Largo, scored the top trout at 21 inches.

Rounding out the adult division, angler Jimmy Dean won the award for the largest redfish with his 29.5-inch fish.

First place in the kids division went to Key Largo’s Delaney Barry, age 9, with a combined total of 14 and 5/8 inches. She fished with her father, Captain Rick Barry.

The tournament drew 45 anglers fishing from 19 boats, as well as hundreds of supporters, educators, mentors and members of the Rotary Club of Key Largo. The annual challenge and its popular silent auction raise funds for Take Stock in Children and other scholarship programs.