No matter what the season, there’s always something to fish for in the waters surrounding the Florida Keys and Key West. Every month there’s a choice of targets, tackle and tactics that makes the Keys one of the world’s truly unique saltwater sport-fishing locations
The diverse fishing opportunities are reflected in an abundance of tournaments. In addition to those listed here, a comprehensive annual schedule of Keys angling challenges can be found at www.fla-keys.com/fishing.
Florida Keys Fishing Tournaments 2011:
Nov. 11-12: “Ladies Let’s Go Fishing!” Islamorada. Female anglers polish their skills and fish in an event sponsored by the fishing education and advocacy group Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing! Hosted at the Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina at Holiday Isle, the weekend event boasts nearly 6,000 lady graduates over the past 16 years. To join, contact Betty Bauman at 954-475-9068, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ladiesletsgofishing.com.
Nov. 25-26: Flagler Centennial Historic Pigeon Key Fishing Tournament. Marathon. Anglers of all ages can fish for native species in the waters surrounding one of the Florida Keys’ most famous bridges, the Seven Mile Bridge. Cash prizes for first- through third-place of $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000 are to be awarded in addition to charter boat trips and overnight stays at the Pigeon Key guesthouse. “Non-fishing” events include tours of the island’s grounds, buildings and museums as well as educational workshops. Admission fee to the island is waived for the weekend, though donations of $5 or $10 per person to the Pigeon Key Foundation are appreciated. Food, drinks and live music are to be provided. To register, visit www.pigeonkey.net/events.html.
Dec. 1-4: 48th Annual Islamorada Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. The first leg of the triple-crown Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship Series, the Gold Cup is limited to 25 boats and is characterized by high-flying sailfish action, conservation and sportsmanship. It’s also the only tournament in the Gold Cup series to offer a junior division for anglers age 16 and younger. Unlimited anglers are allowed per vessel. Contact Dianne Harbaugh at 305-852-2102 or 305-664-4725, email email@example.com or visit www.islamoradasailfishtournament.com.
Dec. 7-8: IFC Captain’s Cup Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. A winner-take-all prize of up to $30,000 and the prestigious Captain’s Cup await the top team. The guaranteed cash prize is based on the number of boats registered for the one-day event. For a field of 15 registered boats, the top payout is $20,000, for a field of 20 boats, payout increases to $25,000 and a full field of 30 registered boats ensures a grand prize of $30,000. The all-release tournament is limited to 30 boats and each team is allowed up to four anglers per boat. Entry fee is $2,500 per boat for first two anglers, plus $300 for the third angler and $200 for the fourth. Four social tickets are provided per boat. Contact Dianne Harbaugh at 305-852-2102 or 305-664-4725 or visit www.theislamoradafishingclub.com.
Dec. 9-11: Don Gurgiolo Sailfish Classic. Islamorada. Part of the acclaimed Redbone at Large series of tournaments, this all-release challenge offers anglers the chance to pursue sailfish in Captain Don’s memory. Tournament winners qualify for the 2012 International Game Fish Association Offshore Championship. Up to four anglers can fish per boat. Contact Tammie Gurgiolo at 305-240-9337 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dec. 16-18: 47th Annual Islamorada Junior Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. Teen recreation in the Florida Keys often involves learning to tie a bimini or getting ballyhoo-rigging lessons from experienced local captains and mates. One weekend each year, anglers age 16 and younger can put such lessons to use by competing in the Islamorada Junior Sailfish Tournament. A maximum of six anglers is allowed per boat. Contact Tammie Gurgiolo at 305-240-9337 or email email@example.com.