11 October 2022

KEY LARGO, Florida Keys — After a weekend spent angling for trophy-size snook, redfish and trout, an angler from St. Petersburg, Florida, took two top awards at the annual Take Stock in Children Backcountry Challenge that ended Sept. 25.

Gene Kent, guided by Miami’s Captain Benny Blanco, won the adult overall artificial division and backcountry champion titles with a combined total of 82.75 inches for one redfish, trout and snook.

His 35.25-inch snook won second place in the snook individual division. Blanco was named the event’s top guide.

Kent was among the 55 anglers fishing from 23 boats along with hundreds of supporters, educators, mentors and Rotarians who helped raise over $50,000 in scholarship money, according to event organizers. Fundraising is the primary mission of the annual angling challenge.

Other winners included Jessica Richardson of Beverly Hills, Florida, topping the adult trout division with a 19.25-inch fish.

Jennifer Pora of St. Petersburg scored the top redfish in the adult division with a 31-inch fish.

Taking top snook was Key Largo’s Tom Rodriguez with a 37.50-inch linesider.

Key Largo’s Chris Hanson won the pro division, racking up an 81.25-inch combined total of redfish, snook and trout.

Chase Caputo of Key Largo was crowned junior backcountry champion with a combined total of 66.50 inches. He also topped the junior division’s snook and trout categories, self-guided, at 25 and 15 inches, respectively.

Angel DelosSantos of Key Largo, fishing with Captain Tony DelosSantos, landed the junior division’s largest redfish at 28.50 inches.

Easton Meyers of Tavernier, Florida, won the kids division (age 12 and younger) with a 10.75-inch trout.

Dates for next year’s tournament are Sept. 22-24, 2023, according to tournament organizers.

Presented by the Key Largo Rotary Club and the Key Largo Fishing Guides Association, the tournament supports local scholarships as well as Take Stock in Children, a statewide scholarship program that awards four-year Florida Prepaid scholarships to economically disadvantaged seventh-grade students who meet the program’s academic and behavioral criteria.


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