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Fishing Notes Fla.

Blind veterans get out for a day of fishing

Ten visually impaired veterans spent an afternoon fishing aboard charter fishing boat, Ms. Drifty, out of Riviera Beach Marina Sept. 29. The trip was coordinated by Freedom Waters Foundation and donated by Ms. Drifty’s owners, Rob Brunner and Michael Dueitt.

The 10 veterans, most of the World War II era, are residents at the VA Visually Impaired Rehab Unit where they are learning to live with their loss of sight.

Freedom Waters Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides boating opportunities and marine-related education for people with disabilities and youth at risk. These services are provided by boat owners who donate their time and vessel for an

Naples angler wins Mercury SLAM

Troy Pruitt of Naples, Fla., was named grand champion at the Mercury Outboards’ Southernmost Light-Tackle Anglers Masters tournament held Sept. 8 to 10 in Key West.

Pruitt scored a double slam — two tarpon, permit and bonefish — on his way to accumulating 2,300 points. He also won for most tarpon release for bringing 10 fish to the boat. Capt. Rich Tudor of Islamorada, Fla., guided Pruitt.

“It’s a great cause and that’s the important thing,” says Pruitt, “but fishing the Keys is just great. The clear water makes it something really special.”

The popular SLAM is the first in an annual Florida Keys autumn trilogy of Mercury Redbone angling challenges. Proceeds from the trilogy and other Redbone celebrity tournaments benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Kal Blumberg of Fort Lauderdale was SLAM’s runner-up grand champion with 1,800 points. Blumberg, fishing with Capt. Mark Krowka of Islamorada, released six permit and seven bonefish to win for most releases of those species.

Team grand champions were Jim Bokor of Tavernier, Fla., and Jim Hoefert of Key Largo, Fla. Each angler scored a slam while fishing with Capt. Tim Hoover of Marathon, Fla.

The ladies’ champion was Linda Denkert of Tavernier, who fished with her husband Capt. Dave Denkert.

The fly division was won by Mike Allen of Miami. He released three tarpon and two bonefish while fishing with Capt. Will Benson.

The celebrity champion was former astronaut Bruce Melnick of Titusville, Fla.

Sugarloaf Key angler continues dominance

Gloria Rampfel of Sugarloaf Key, Fla., was named grand champion at the 47th Marathon International Bonefish Tournament, racking up her seventh win in eight years.

Guided by Capt. Tim Carlile, also of Sugarloaf Key, Rampfel released 41 bonefish during the three-day tournament.

Second place went to Gene Ford of Potomac, Md., last year’s grand champion, who scored 33 bonefish releases. Ford was guided by Capt. Albert Ponzoa of Marathon, as he was in 2005 when his victory broke a string of six straight grand championships for Rampfel.

Team honors went to Australians Dave Slicklen and Gary McLean, guided by Marathon’s Capt. Billy Rabito.

The largest bonefish in the tournament measured 29.5 inches. It was caught by Walter McManus of Big Pine Key, Fla., while fishing with Capt. B.J. Meyer of Marathon. McManus and Meyer also caught the tournament’s only grand slam, consisting of a bonefish, permit and tarpon.

Thirty-seven anglers released 197 bonefish during the 2006 angling challenge.

Kids to target nearly 50 species

Most tournaments target one or two species of fish. But the Islamorada Fishing Club’s Junior Derby encourages kids to get out and fish for just about anything that swims (tropicals excluded).

The 2006 IFC Junior Derby is set for Nov. 25 at the Islamorada Fishing Club, mile marker 82 bayside in Islamorada.

The all-release tournament focuses on fun and sportsmanship. The IFC hopes to teach the importance of fish conservation through catch-and-release, while imparting a sportsmanship ethic to the young anglers. All scoring is based on the honor system.

Children can fish to win one of 28 prizes, with grand champions to be named in three age divisions: super small fry (up to age 6), small fry (7 to 10) and junior (ages 11 to 16). Separate grand champions are to be named in guided and unguided divisions within each age group.

Entrants can fish from a boat or from land, allowing kids to fish from any of the Keys’ popular fishing bridges or shorelines.

Points are to be awarded for fish from inshore species such as grouper, grunt, snapper, shark, barracuda, hogfish and trout; and offshore species like dolphin, kingfish, cobia and tuna. Bonefish, tarpon, permit, snook and redfish also earn points.

Any tackle except power reels can be used. Double points are awarded for fish caught on fly tackle.

Entry fee is $40 per angler, including the social ticket. Additional social tickets are available for $30 each. Each angler is to receive a gift-filled ditty bag. For more information, call (305) 664-3864 or e-mail