ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys— In recognition of Veteran’s Day, discerning anglers are to unite with war heroes to pursue some of the most elusive game fish in the world for trophies and prizes during the annual Cheeca Lodge All-American Backcountry Tournament, scheduled Nov. 12-14 in Islamorada.
The first-class catch and release tournament was inspired by the nation’s 41st president, George Bush, an avid Florida Keys angler and a regular visitor to Cheeca Lodge. It honors a participating team of two veteran soldiers to unwind and join up to 25 competitor boats that target five tournament species: snook, redfish, permit, bonefish and tarpon.
A welcome beachside reception followed by a rules meeting and silent auction kick off the weekend at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, at Cheeca Lodge, the tournament's social event headquarters, at mile marker 82 oceanside.
Fishing is from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 13-14, based from nearby World Wide Sportsman.
A Friday evening reception is to be followed by a presentation by a to-be-announced special guest. The prestigious fishing event culminates Saturday evening when individual and team trophies are to be awarded to winners in the fly, general tackle and artificial lure divisions.
According to tournament organizers, participants are to follow Monroe County COVID-19 health safety protocols throughout, including social distancing and wearing facial coverings when appropriate.
Entry fee is $1,500 per angler and includes admission to social events for the angler, guide and two guests; daily continental breakfast and boxed lunches for anglers and guides; and a gift bag. Guide fees are additional. Limited social-only tickets are available to the public. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations.
Proceeds benefit the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to conserve and restore bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and habitats through research, stewardship, education and advocacy.
Registration information: cheeca.com/all-american
The nation’s 41st president, George Bush, pictured here providing some welcome liquid refreshment to grandson Jeb Bush during a past Keys tournament, was an avid Florida Keys angler. Image: Andy Newman