FLORIDA KEYS — In the Florida Keys, the most difficult fishing challenge is choosing what kind of fishing to undertake. Reefs feature abundant snapper and grouper, the deep water yields dolphin fish (mahi-mahi) in spring and summer, and anglers can cast to the silver kings in near-shore shallows and flats.
June’s many angling challenges attract novice competitors and world-class anglers who want to enjoy the fun and camaraderie that go along with an open fishing tournament. Prizes range from fine-art pieces to cash awards. Highlights include:
June 2-6: 46th Annual Don Hawley Tarpon Fly Tournament. Islamorada. Up to 25 of the world’s top fly-rod anglers endure a five-day test of patience and finesse, fishing Keys waters using fly tackle and 12-pound tippet. Named for the late fly fisherman and conservationist Don Hawley, the tournament benefits the Guides Trust Foundation that assists professional fishing guides and supports backcountry fishery conservation programs. guidestrustfoundation.org/
June 15-19: 57th Annual Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament. Islamorada. This annual challenge appeals to “tarpon addicts” and both experienced and novice anglers apply to compete in what is locally called the “Wimbledon of tarpon fishing.” Headquartered at the Lorelei Restaurant and Marina, the all-release event is limited to 25 anglers by invitation only. Partial proceeds benefit the Guides Trust Foundation of the Florida Keys. goldcuptt.com/
June 24-25: IFC Captains Cup Dolphin Tournament. Islamorada. Teams of up to four anglers compete for top prizes, and the total combined weight of three dolphin fish determines the winning team. If up to 15 boats register, first-prize cash winnings could reach $15,000. theislamoradafishingclub.com/
June 26-27: 14th Annual Mother’s Day (and Fathers too!) Dolphin Tournament. Marathon. Rescheduled from May, this is a festive one-day fun fishing tournament to catch the heaviest dolphin fish. New and seasoned anglers of all ages are welcome. There are four angler categories: Pro, Weekend Warrior, Ladies and Junior (age 16 and under). Over $8,000 in cash and prizes has been awarded in past events. Proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys. All registration fees are tax deductible as allowable by law and will be used directly to build new affordable homes. habitatmiddlekeys.org/dolphin-tournament.php
For more information about the Florida Keys’ roster of fishing tournaments, visit fla-keys.com/calendar/fishing/.