KEY WEST, Florida Keys — In 1982 some 400 anglers targeted marlin in the waters off the continental United States’ southernmost city, fighting the huge billfish like Ernest Hemingway did in the 1930s, during the inaugural Key West Marlin Tournament. Now in its 41st year, the tournament is to challenge participants Wednesday through Saturday, July 19-22, as they vie for a guaranteed $50,000 cash purse.
An in the past, the Key West Marlin Tournament takes place in conjunction with the annual Hemingway Days celebration of the author’s work and sporting lifestyle.
Teams that accumulate the most points for released blue marlin, white marlin and spearfish during the tournament’s three fishing days are to split $40,000 in cash. The first-place prize is $25,000, while second- and third-place awards are $10,000 and $5,000, respectively. Teams also can enter one fun fish (dolphin fish, tuna, wahoo or released sailfish) per boat per day to add to their point total.
Boats entered in the marlin division can pay an additional fee to compete for $10,000 cash to be awarded in the fun fish division. Cash prizes are to be presented for the three heaviest dolphin fish, wahoo and tuna (yellowfin, blackfin and skipjack).
Final registration is scheduled at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 19, at the tournament tent at Stock Island Marina Village, 7005 Shrimp Road. A captains meeting, auction and raffle are to follow.
Lines are to be in the water from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 20 and 21, and from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 22. Weigh-ins are scheduled for 4-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 3-5 p.m. Saturday at Stock Island Marina Village.
Thursday’s weigh-in is to be followed by a 6:30 p.m. dinner at the Hogfish Bar & Grill, 6810 Front St. on Stock Island. Following Friday’s weigh-in, anglers can enjoy a 6:30 p.m. island-style pig roast at El Siboney Stock Island, 5501 Fifth Ave.
The tournament awards banquet is scheduled Saturday night at the Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel, 3841 N. Roosevelt Blvd. Cocktails and a silent auction are to begin at 6:30 p.m., with dinner and awards presentations starting at 7:30 p.m.
Tournament entry fees are $2,550 per boat for two anglers to compete in the marlin division and attend tournament social events. Marlin division competitors can qualify for cash prizes in the fun fish division for an extra $450 entry fee per boat.
There is no maximum number of anglers per boat and additional anglers over two can register for $250 apiece, which includes social privileges. Additional social tickets can be purchased for $150 each.
Tournament information and registration: KeyWestMarlin.com
Ernest Hemingway, a passionate angler, lived and wrote in Key West during the 1930s and fought countless marlin in area waters.