TAVERNIER, Florida Keys — Dolphin fishing season in the Florida Keys is characterized by multigenerational families fishing together, and the annual Nick Sheahan Dolphin Rodeo Friday through Sunday, May 3-5, celebrates the Keys’ inherent family community spirit.
Based out of Tavernier in the Upper Keys, the annual angling challenge honors the late Nick Sheahan, a beloved Coral Shores High School student who died tragically in 2004 from shallow-water blackout.
The event serves as an educational awareness opportunity about the activity of free diving, as well as rewarding other Keys students with annual scholarships from monies raised during the fishing tournament.
The rodeo kicks off Friday, May 3, with a catered dinner, silent auction and rules meeting planned for 6-9 p.m. at Tavernier Creek Marina, mile marker 90.8.
Adult and junior anglers age 12 and under are to fish Saturday, May 4, from lines-in at 7:30 a.m. to lines-out at 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cash prizes of $3,000, $1,500 and $1,000 are to be awarded to the top three adult anglers catching the heaviest dolphin fish. First- through third-place trophies and prizes also are slated for the top junior anglers.
A $25,000 cash prize awaits the angler who breaks the current Florida state record for dolphin fish. Prizes also are to be given for the largest wahoo, yellowfin or blackfin tuna. One entry per species per angler is allowed.
Entry fees are $185 per adult and $50 per junior angler. All proceeds benefit the Nick Sheahan Scholarship Fund for graduating seniors at the Upper Keys’ Coral Shores High School, which to date totals a stunning $212,000.
Tournament information: nicksheahan.com
Islamorada visitor information: fla-keys.com/islamorada
Florida Keys fishing information: fla-keys.com/fishing
The rodeo kicks off with a catered dinner and giant silent auction, open to the public, helping raise scholarship dollars.