Fishing Tournaments – Islamorada, Florida
December 04 to December 07 in Islamorada, Florida
Islamorada Sailfish Tournament
The first leg of the triple-crown Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship Series is characterized by high-flying sail action, conservation and sportsmanship. It’s also the only fishing tournament in the Gold Cup series to offer a junior division for anglers aged 16 and younger. Unlimited anglers are allowed per vessel.
Islamorada Junior Sailfish Tournament
Recreation for teens in the Florida Keys can mean learning from experienced local captains and mates to tie a bimini or rig ballyhoo. One weekend each year anglers aged 16 and younger can apply such lessons in this fishing tournament. A maximum of six anglers is allowed per boat. Proceeds help benefit Toys for Tots of Monroe County.
January 02 to January 04 in Key Largo
Key Largo Sailfish Challenge
Heralding the height of sailfish season, each year this fishing tournament is characterized by friendly but serious competition, professionalism and camaraderie among anglers who put their 20-pound test line skills to task. Up to four anglers per boat can register for the event. Cash prizes and trophies await the first- through third-place teams. Auctions and raffles are to highlight the event, whose proceeds benefit the Coral Shores High School band program.
Contact: Tammie Gurgiolo 305-240-9337
Islamorada Women’s Sailfish Tournament
In this light-tackle challenge, awards await the grand champion team (boat), first runner-up and second runner-up team, captain and mate, as well as those recognizing the high-point angler, outstanding catch, largest tuna, dolphin and kingfish, most tagged sailfish and hard luck.
Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament The Presidential is one of the most prestigious offshore fishing tournaments in the Florida Keys, and is the second leg of the Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship. Anglers compete for beautiful trophies and prizes with sumptuous banquets held at beautiful Cheeca Lodge & Spa.
Contact: Julie Olsen 305-517-4449
Shallow water flats anglers and guides are invited to hook-up and fight their barracuda rivals. This fishing tournament is to be headquartered at Hurricane Hole Marina, Stock Island. Prizes and trophies are to be awarded for top angler and guide in light tackle spin and fly divisions.
Stock Island Marina Village King Mackerel Tournament
Big king mackerel migrate to the waters around Key West each winter, and a fittingly large prize awaits the winner of this challenge. The angler who weighs in the heaviest mackerel, also known as kingfish, is to go home with $10,000. Contact: Lee Murray 305-296-0364
February 28 to March 01 in Islamorada
Islamorada Winter Classic
A new, family-formatted fishing tournament that is to feature nine offshore target species. Trophies are to be offered top boats in weight and release categories, as well as private vessel and charter divisions. A junior release division is also planned for anglers up to age 10.
Contact: Dianne Harbaugh 305-522-4868
March 04 to March 07 in Key Largo
Jimmy Johnson’s National Billfish Championship: Quest for the Ring
Hosted by Jimmy Johnson, two-time Super Bowl winning coach and former head coach at the University of Miami, this prestigious event benefits the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a South Florida-based cancer-related research, diagnosis and treatment facility. All anglers on the winning boat receive authentic, custom-designed Jimmy Johnson’s NBC Championship rings.
Jim Bokor’s Islamorada All-Tackle Bonefish & Redfish Shootout
Anglers vie for top-honor trophies for catches of bonefish and redfish in this newly formatted fishing tournament, appealing to a broader spectrum of anglers. Divisions in the tournament’s new format include bait, artificial and fly. Awards also are to be given for total release points for each species and to the high-point angler for each day. To be counted toward bonefish and redfish trophies, each fish caught and released must be at least 18 inches in length. An overall grand champion is to be named for both bonefish and redfish in the three categories.
March Merkin Permit Tournament
A charity flats-and-fly-only tournament with a twist – in addition to catch and release, anglers earn extra points for tagging their caught fish. Held at the Key West Harbour Yacht Club on Stock Island.
April 04 to November 30 in Key West
Key West Fishing Tournament
More than 40 species of fish are targeted during these months, with divisions for men, women, junior anglers (ages 10 to 14) 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.
Contact: Rob Harris 305-587-6718; Doris 305-295-6601
Key West Sailfish Championship
This four-day challenge is to offer up to $50,000 for first place prize, $15,000 and $10,000 to second- and third-place anglers, respectively. Early entry angler fee per angler is available. Visit website for details.
Islamorada Spring Classic
A new, family-formatted boat tournament that is to feature nine target gulf and backcountry species. Trophies are to be offered top boats in weight and release categories, as well as private vessel and charter divisions. A junior release division is also planned for anglers up to age 10.
May 01 to May 03 in Marathon
Marathon Offshore Bull and Cow Dolphin Tournament
A $10,000 first prize awaits the angler with the largest bull and cow combined, as well as prizes awarded to anglers catching the largest dolphin, wahoo, tuna and tripletail, grouper and snapper.
Contact: Jack Carlson 305-481-0495
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May 01 to May 03 in Islamorada
Nick Sheahan Dolphin Rodeo
A tournament honoring the memory of Nick Sheahan, a Florida Keys student, funds from this event benefit a namesake community scholarship fund, distributing nearly $90,000 to date. Hosted at Tavernier Creek Marina, cash prizes and $25,000 to the angler with the dolphin that beats the state record. Hosted at Tavernier Creek Marina, entry fee for adults is $150, $35 for juniors.
Contact: Marcia Panse 305-393-3733
For enthusiastic tarpon anglers, silver kings mean springtime. This high-energy, three-evening tournament mandates that teams fish with a different captain each evening. Teams also rotate among the three major bridge channels in Marathon, so any potential “hot spots” are shared among all anglers.
Florida Keys Dolphin Championship
This Keys-wide dolphin challenge allows anglers to fish one tournament from Key Largo to Key West, and weigh in at five locations. An unlimited number of anglers can join a team, in this boat/team event. Visit website for more details.
Golden Fly Invitational Tarpon Tournament
Special flies, accurate casts and a bit of luck are the recipe for winning this prestigious challenge, using only a tournament-furnished tippet not greater than 16-pound test. Eligible tarpon must measure at least 48 inches in length to earn release points, and weigh at least 70 pounds for weight points.
June 05 to June 07 in Big Pine
Original Big Pine & Lower Keys Dolphin Tournament
Cash and prizes await anglers, also including first-place trophy to the angler who catches the 21st annual tournament’s largest dolphin. If the winning dolphin weighs more than 50 pounds, additional cash is awarded. While dolphin is the only species of fish eligible for cash awards, rods and reels are also to be presented for the heaviest wahoo and tuna caught. Presented by the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce. Entry fees are $150 for open and $50 for youth.
VFW Fishing Tournament
This family oriented tournament offers cash prizes for dolphin, wahoo, snapper and grouper, along with prizes for heaviest fish by a lady angler and heaviest fish by a juvenile angler. Heaviest Dolphin is worth $2,500. All proceeds benefit disabled and/or needy veterans in Monroe County. Hosted by VFW Post 3911 and Key West Harbor Yacht Club. Registration forms and rules are to be available at Key West Bait and Tackle; Murray Marine; Esky Rod Shop; Key West Harbor; VFW Post 3911; and Reef Light Tackle (Big Pine Key).
The Dolphin & Blackfin Tuna Fun Fishing Tournament
Top prizes of $700, $350 and $200 await individual adult anglers who catch the tournament’s three heaviest dolphin, with additional cash awards for the heaviest blackfin tuna and wahoo. Headquartered at Burdines Waterfront restaurant, the 15th annual challenge is open to adult and junior anglers.
Key West Gator Club Dolphin Derby
A grand prize of $5,000 cash is to be awarded the boat team with the largest aggregate weight in dolphin during the derby’s two fishing days, with teams allowed to enter one qualifying fish each day. Second- and third-place teams will earn $2,500 and $1,000, respectively. Individual anglers can compete for trophies, prizes and cash totaling more than $15,000 in the tournament’s divisions for male, female and junior participants.
July 10 to July 12 in Islamorada
Islamorada Dolphin Tournament
Hosted by the Islamorada Charterboat Association, this annual event features $15,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs. Competition is open to all anglers and there is no limit on the number of anglers that can participate.
Contact: Dianne Harbaugh 305-522-4868
Del Brown Permit TournamentAnglers fly-fish on the flats in a challenge that honors the late angling pioneer Del Brown, who caught and released more than 500 permit off the Keys. Professionals and guides are allowed to compete as well.
Key West Marlin Tournament
Anglers ply the waters once fished by novelist Ernest Hemingway, vying for $50,000 in guaranteed cash prizes. Held in conjunction with Key West’s annual Hemingway Days, the event awards $25,000 to the first-place team. Teams can enter one fun fish (dolphin, tuna, wahoo or released sailfish) per day to add to their point total. For anglers, the Key West Marlin Tournament provides a chance to emulate Ernest’s passion for deep-sea fishing.
September 24 to September 27 in Marathon
Marathon International Bonefish Tournament
For more than 50 years, this challenge awards individual and team champions scoring the largest bonefish and permit, the top anglers in fly and grand slam divisions (for the top spin or fly angler who releases the largest bonefish, permit and tarpon “slam”), as well as the tongue-in-cheek “wet pants” champion titles for anglers wading from shore. The event is one of the few tournaments where anglers can fish without a professional guide. Notable and celebrity participants have included crooner Perry Como during the early 1960s, former U.S. Rep. Dante Fascell, Broadway actor David Wayne and Heublein Inc. magnate John Martin of A-1 Sauce fame.
Contact: Barb 305-304-8682
15th Annual Take Stock in Children Backcountry Challenge
For philanthropic anglers, this popular annual gathering proffers an important fundraising opportunity while fishing trout, snook and redfish. Proceeds benefit both local Rotary Club of Key Largo scholarships and Take Stock in Children, a statewide scholarship program for children in seventh through 12th grades. Trophies for first through third place are to be awarded anglers in adult and pro divisions, as well as first-place snook, trout and redfish prizes for juniors age 17 and under.
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