22 November 2021
ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys — A father and son from Colorado earned the team grand championship at the Cheeca Lodge All-American Backcountry tournament that ended Nov. 20.
Seasoned competitors Paul McCulliss of Littleton and his son Brian McCulliss of Denver released three snook and three redfish on artificial as well as eight snook, six redfish and one bonefish on bait. They were guided by Captain Eric Herstedt of Homestead, Florida.
The tournament’s grand champion angler was Jeffrey Parish of Buffalo, New York, who released 10 snook and 10 redfish on artificial and six bonefish on bait. Guided by Islamorada’s Captain Dave Denkert, Parish also earned the artificial division’s championship.
Each year, the tournament hosts a team of two veteran soldiers to compete. U.S. Army Combat Engineer Corporal Jim Barone of Boca Raton, Florida, and U.S. Navy E5 Petty Officer Second Class Matthew Rosebush of Ashburn, Virginia, earned the annual challenge’s second-place team honors.
Guided by Captain Mike Makowski of Key Largo, Florida, the duo released 10 snook and four tarpon on bait and two redfish on artificial.
Second place in the individual angler division went to Jim Bokor Jr. of Buffalo, New York, who was guided by Captain Richard Black of Islamorada. Bokor released 10 snook and five redfish on artificial and five tarpon on bait.
Alan Bongiovanni of Newington, Connecticut, captured top honors in the general division. Bongiovanni released four redfish, five snook and one tarpon on bait while guided by Islamorada’s Captain Jeffrey Bloodworth.
Christopher Jordan of McLean, Virginia, earned the fly division championship, releasing 10 redfish, five tarpon and one snook. His guide was Captain Paul Ross of Islamorada.
The 14-angler field’s gamefish totals over two days included 76 snook, 48 redfish, 18 tarpon and nine bonefish.
Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to conserve and restore bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and habitats through research, stewardship, education and advocacy.

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