2023 Florida Keys Fishing Tournament Highlights: January Through June
Dec. 1, 2022 – July 31, 2023: Key West Fishing Tournament. Key West. More than 40 species of fish are targeted during the multimonth tournament, with divisions for men, women, junior anglers (ages 10 to 15) and Pee Wees (under 10 years old). The Key West Fishing Tournament strongly encourages the release of game fish. All participating anglers receive certificates noting their catches and qualify for a variety of prizes. Visit keywestfishingtournament.com.
Jan. 4-5: Islamorada SailFly Tournament. Islamorada. This time of year, the weather is typically ideal for a hot Atlantic sailfish bite. Entrants can compete in one of the toughest and most exciting angling events of the year. Call Randy Towe at 305-394-2667 or email email@example.com.
Jan. 6-7: Fish for Holly Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. Created to raise money for Keys scholarships and domestic violence initiatives, this memorial tournament honors the late Holly Given, a Keys resident and avid angler. Participants are to gather at Postcard Inn to compete for top male, female and junior angler awards as well top team and fun fish categories. Visit fishforholly.com/tournament/.
Jan. 12-15: Key West Kingfish Mayhem. Key West and the Lower Keys. Headquartered at Oceans Edge Marina, this four-species event enhances what was formerly a king mackerel tournament by adding tuna, mahi-mahi and wahoo. Anglers are to vie for cash prizes. Visit meatmayhemtournaments.com/event/leg-one-key-west-kingfish-mayhem-2022/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan. 17-18: IFC Captain’s Cup Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. Presented by the Islamorada Fishing Club, the event this year is the second leg of the three-pronged Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship series, attracting teams of elite sport fishermen. A total cash payout for a full field at the IFC Sailfish Tournament could reach $30,000. Visit theislamoradafishingclub.com or email email@example.com.
Jan. 20-22: Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. The Presidential is one of the most prestigious offshore tournaments in the Florida Keys, and serves as the final leg of the three-pronged Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship. Visit cheeca.com/presidential.
Jan. 29-30: Islamorada Bartenders Sailfish Open. Islamorada. Headquartered at the Lorelei Restaurant & Cabana Bar, this fun fishing event is only for actively employed bartenders and restaurant employees. Trophies are awarded to individual anglers as well as the bar a team represents, with the huge perpetual trophy going to the winners along with bragging rights for a year. Contact Dianne Harbaugh at 305-522-4868 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feb. 3-5: Islamorada Women’s Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. In this light-tackle challenge, awards await the grand champion team (boat), first runner-up and second runner-up team, captain and mate. Other awards are presented for the high-point angler, outstanding catch and largest tuna, dolphin fish and kingfish. Proceeds benefit Florida Keys charities. Call 305-240-9337 or email email@example.com.
Feb. 7-8: Poor Girls Sailfish Tournament. Islamorada. This regional charity competition raises money to spay and neuter feral cats in the Upper Keys. Trophies are awarded to the first-, second- and third-place teams, grand champion and runner-up grand champion anglers as well as for the largest dolphin fish, kingfish and tuna, among others. Visit castingforcats.org/poor-girls-sailfish-tournament.
Feb. 9-11: Cuda Bowl. Key West and the Lower Keys. Shallow-water flats anglers and guides are invited to hook up and fight their barracuda rivals. The event is headquartered at South of the Seven Restaurant on Sugarloaf Key. Prizes are awarded in spin and fly divisions. Top scoring female and junior anglers are also recognized. Visit cudabowl.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feb. 24-25: Backcountry Fly Championship Series. Islamorada. Tournament anglers are to compete to catch the most inches of snook and redfish on fly in a challenge where 1 inch equals one point. Awards are to be given to the grand champion and runner-up, and to the anglers who catch the largest snook and redfish. The field is limited to 30 boats. Visit BFCtournament.com.
March 7-11: Jimmy Johnson's ‘Quest for the Ring’ Championship Fishing Week. Hosted by Jimmy Johnson, two-time Super Bowl winning coach and former head coach at the University of Miami, the prestigious event has a guaranteed purse of at least $1 million annually and benefits Tranquil Shores Foundation, Fishing for Muscular Dystrophy and other charities. Anglers on the winning boat receive a custom-designed Jimmy Johnson’s Championship ring. Participants fish in 100 miles of waters from Key Largo to Palm Beach. Visit jjfishweek.com.
March 13-16: March Merkin Invitational Permit Tournament. Key West and the Lower Keys. This charity flats-and-fly-only tournament challenges anglers to catch and release silvery permit to vie for elite titles. The event is held at Oceans Edge Resort & Marina in Key West. Visit marchmerkin.com.
April 7-10: Robert-James Sales Redbone @ Large Sunrise/Sunset Tarpon Tournament. Islamorada. The Upper Keys competition is one of dozens of fishing events held each year whose proceeds benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Visit redbone.org.
April 20-22: Marathon Premier Sailfish Tournament. Marathon. A boat tournament with a release format, the challenge benefits Mission Fishin’, a South Florida nonprofit that helps fund marine adventures for foster children, youngsters with special needs and their families. Prizes are to be awarded to the top three boat teams and top male, female and junior anglers among others. Visit marathonsailfish.com.
April 23-26: Herman Lucerne Memorial Tarpon Cup. Islamorada. The Islamorada-based Herman Lucerne Memorial Tarpon Cup features 25 guided anglers competing to catch and release the most tarpon over 4 feet in length on 16-pound tippet. For more information, visit hermanlucernememorial.com.
April 30 – May 4: 36th Annual Faro Blanco Invitational Tarpon Tournament. Marathon. This unique team tournament in the heart of tarpon season, with two to four anglers per team/boat, allows anglers to fish three of the four nights with three different captains at three different bridges: Bahia Honda, Long Key and the world-famous Seven Mile. Proceeds from the charity tournament benefit Ronald McDonald House. Contact Donna Vankirk at 305-393-0699 or email@example.com.
May 5-7: Marathon Offshore Bull and Cow Dolphin Tournament. Marathon. Up to $25,000 in cash and prizes awaits the top anglers who catch the largest bull and cow dolphin fish combined, while other prizes are awarded to anglers catching the largest dolphin, wahoo, tuna and tripletail. Visit marathonoffshoretournament.com.
May 6-8: Nick Sheahan Dolphin Rodeo. Islamorada. Honoring the memory of Nick Sheahan, a Florida Keys student, this tournament benefits a namesake community scholarship fund that has distributed over $360,000 to date. Hosted at Tavernier Creek Marina, the event features cash prizes and $25,000 to the angler with a dolphin fish that beats the state record. Visit nicksheahan.com.
May 6-10: Tarponian Tournament. Marathon. Rules of this high-energy three-evening tournament mandate that each team fishes with a different captain each outing. Teams also rotate among the three major bridge channels in Marathon, so any potential “hot spots” are shared among all anglers. Call 215-542-1492 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 19-21: ‘Ladies Let’s Go Fishing’ Screamin’ Reels Tournament. Islamorada. Intended for novice anglers, this weekend is about learning and a nonintimidating, fun competition with the “Ladies Let’s Go Fishing” university organizers. Participants can charter a professional boat or fish on their own boat. This is a casual tournament with prizes for the heaviest offshore fish and longest inshore fish, drawings for prizes for those who caught fish and bonus drawings. Visit ladiesletsgofishing.com/.
June 2-4: Ninth Annual Skippers Dolphin Tournament. Key Largo. This tournament is headquartered at Skippers Dockside Restaurant behind Key Largo’s Holiday Inn. Cash prizes of over $50,000 include a first-place prize of $20,000 as well as prizes for the top six teams and top lady and junior anglers. Visit skipperstournaments.com or email email@example.com.
June 2-4: Original Big Pine & Lower Keys Dolphin Tournament. Big Pine Key. The Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce presents this annual event where anglers contend for over $35,000 in cash prizes and awards. A cash prize of $20,000 is given for the largest dolphin fish over 50 pounds. Additional prizes await winners in open, ladies and youth divisions. Visit lowerkeyschamber.com/chamber-events/.
June 5-9: 48th 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, assisting professional fishing guides and supporting backcountry fishery conservation programs. Visit guidestrustfoundation.org.
June 9-10: Ladies Dolphin Tournament. Tavernier. Hosted by the Florida Keys Elks Lodge, this event welcomes female angler teams to compete for the highest aggregate weight of three dolphin fish. Cash and prizes are awarded to first- through third-place finishers and for the largest dolphin caught. Visit floridakeyselks1872.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 16-18: VFW Fishing Tournament. Key West. A family fun tournament, this event awards over $15,000 in total cash and prizes including $5,000 for the heaviest dolphin fish. All proceeds benefit disabled and needy veterans in Monroe County. Call or email email@example.com.
June 19-23: 60th Annual Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament. Islamorada. This annual challenge appeals to “tarpon addicts”; experienced anglers apply to compete in what is referred to locally as the “Wimbledon of tarpon fishing.” Headquartered at the Lorelei Restaurant and Marina, the all-release event is limited to 25 anglers by invitation only. Proceeds benefit the Guides Trust Foundation of the Florida Keys. Visit goldcuptt.com.
June 23-25: Florida Keys PBA Dolphin Tournament. Stock Island. Hosted by volunteers on behalf of the Florida Keys Police Benevolent Association, the tournament targets dolphin fish and is headquartered on Stock Island. Cash prizes await the first- through fourth-place anglers and the top junior, female and PBA member anglers. Proceeds primarily benefit the Autism Society of the Keys and the Love Fund Inc. Visit keysdolphintournament.com.
June 28-29: IFC Captain’s Cup Dolphin Tournament. Islamorada. Teams of up to four anglers compete for top prizes, and the total combined weight of three fish determines the winning team. If up to 25 boats register, first-prize cash winnings can reach $25,000. Visit theislamoradafishingclub.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Florida Keys flats guide idles away from the dock during the dawn of a new day in Islamorada, Fla. Featuring an angling diversity found in few saltwater sport fishing destinations, Islamorada is known as the Sport-Fishing Capital of the World.