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Fishing Notes – Florida

Fort Pierce angler wins new fly tourney

Angler Mark Wolaver of Fort Pierce, Fla., caught 113.75 inches of redfish and snook while fly-fishing to win the inaugural Backcountry Fly Championship held off Islamorada.

In the tournament that ended Feb. 23, a total of 25 anglers competed to catch the most inches of snook and redfish on fly. Rules mandated that only two catches of each species over the two days of fishing could be counted toward an angler’s total inches.

Wolaver earned the title of grand champion angler fishing with Capt. Chris Jones of Islamorada. Jones was named the tournament’s grand champion guide. Wolaver’s redfish were 32.5 and 32.25 inches, and his snook were 27.5 and 21.5 inches.

“I relied heavily upon my guide to put me on the fish,” said Wolaver. “Chris had a solid game plan for us going into the tournament, he kept me positive and we worked well as a team.”

Tim Mahaffey of Miami was awarded runner-up angler for scoring 112.875 inches of fish. Mahaffey fished with Capt. Eric Herstedt of Coral Springs, Fla.

The largest snook, measuring 34.75 inches, was caught by Alex Cruz of Miami, who fished with Carlos Ruiz of Key Largo, Fla. The largest redfish, measuring 32.625 inches, was caught by Frank Juliano of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., fishing with Jared Rascob of Islamorada.

Youngster again named ‘peewee master angler‘

Skyler Robinson is just 9 years old and weighs only 59 pounds, but the fourth-grade student has racked up catches that older and more experienced anglers might envy.

The Ocean Beach, N.Y., youngster was recently named peewee out-of-county master angler in the 42nd annual Key West Fishing Tournament, with accomplishments that included scoring 41 releases of 12 species.

It was Robinson’s third consecutive peewee master angler award in the annual eight-month challenge that targets more than 40 species.

His angling prowess earned him a divisional win for a 10.3-pound jack crevalle caught on 12-pound test line. He also scored the peewee division’s heaviest fish honors, catching a 5-pound bonefish on 12-pound test, an 11.8-pound jack crevalle on 20-pound test, a 4.8-pound mackerel on spin, a 2-pound mangrove snapper on 12-pound test and a 17.8-pound barracuda on 12-pound test.

The young fishing enthusiast’s largest catches, however, weren’t tournament entries.

“Last year he caught a 100-pound tarpon all by himself, and two nurse sharks back to back – one was about 110 pounds and one was about 130,” said father Chris Robinson.

An advocate of releasing every catch except food fish, Skyler Robinson admitted his arms get tired when he’s reeling in a large fish or a fighter. Afterwards he tries to do some arm stretches before attempting another catch.

His third Key West win has only increased the young angler’s appetite for tournament fishing.

“I think I want to be a competitive fisherman and enter tournaments for the rest of my life,” Robinson said.

The 2007 Key West Fishing Tournament attracted 1,964 entries from 945 anglers.

In the adult competition, Dan Trapp Sr. of Ada, Mich., won the men’s master angler award for out-of-county entrants. His achievements included divisional wins for catching an 8-pound gag grouper on 12-pound test, a 27-pound wahoo on 12-pound test and a 17-pound jack crevalle on 30-pound test.

Trapp also earned heaviest fish honors for his 47-pound black grouper and 21-pound jack crevalle, both caught on 50-pound test.

Chris Adair of West Palm Beach, Fla., caught the tournament’s single heaviest fish: a 270-pound lemon shark.

Mike Allen of Key West scored the most releases overall with 101, the most bonefish releases with 50, the most permit releases with 36 and the most tarpon releases with 15.

The 2008 Key West Fishing Tournament was scheduled to begin March 14 and continue through Nov. 30.

Keys crew repeats as sailfish champions

The Main Attraction II team out of Key Colony Beach, Fla., won the $25,000 first prize at the 10th annual Leon Shell Memorial Sailfish Tournament that ended March 2. The victory marks the team’s second consecutive win – a first in the tournament’s history.

Anglers Jim Snyder and Peter Bernard of Richmond, Va., plus Fred Bumgarden, Max Gray and Robert Griffin of Charlotte, N.C., and Bill Fuchs of Phoenix, Ariz., released three sails out of five hook-ups. The teammates fished with Capt. Shelby Bentley of Big Pine Key, Fla., at the helm.

Second place went to the Sea Breeze team with Captain Bob Taute out of Marathon. He guided his son Bob Taute Jr., also of Marathon, and his brother Richard Taute of Wellfleet, Mass., to release two sailfish.

Based on time, third place went to the team aboard the Silver Queen with Captain Chris Tong out of Key Colony Beach Marina, also with two sailfish releases. The anglers were Jim Brown, Bill Stenzel, Mark McNamee, Troy Shindler and Scott Woodall – all of Denver, Colo.

Champion individual angler was Richard Taute for his two sailfish releases.

The largest kingfish, 20.9 pounds, was caught by Bruce Coles of Marathon aboard the Calcutta with Captain Terry Fisher. The champion dolphin was 8.8 pounds, brought in by Joe Suroviec of Palm City, Fla., aboard The Natural with Captain Reese Lewis. The champion tuna, an 18.1-pounder, was caught by Don Hiller of Marathon aboard the Main Attraction with Captain Marty Lewis.

Lois Shell, widow of Capt. Leon Shell for whom the tournament is named, presented a check for $35,000 to Hospice and Visiting Nurses Association of the Florida Keys.

A field of 110 anglers fished the tournament from 26 boats.

Redbone celebrity series sails to Florida coast

The Raymond James Palm Island Celebrity Slam will dock on Florida’s west coast on April 16-18, when anglers descend for the event that is part of the Redbone @ Large Celebrity Tournament Series.

Guests will lock in for two days of fishing in search of redfish, snook, trout and tarpon, guided by local professional captains. The event will feature dinner, awards celebration and silent, live and Bid for a Cure auctions hosted by actor Ed Marinaro.

The PalmIsland event is one of 11 tournaments in the Series scheduled for 2008. Approximately 30 Redbone Celebrity tournaments are held each year, with all proceeds benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF). Redbone events raised $1,568,000 in 2007, and have raised more than $11 million in 20 years.

The median age of survival for a person with cystic fibrosis has improved from early childhood in the 1950s to 36.8 years today. The genetic disease affects the lungs and digestive systems of approximately 30,000 children and young adults in the United States.

For more information on the Redbone @ Large Celebrity Tournament Series and/or the Raymond James Palm Island Celebrity Slam, visit on-line at or call 305-664-2002 or 1-877-5-FISH-CF.