(Islamorada, Florida) The 26th Annual Keys Spring Invitational Bonefish Fly Tournament took place here April 19th, 20th and 21st. The Tournament, founded by Billy Pate and Dick Pope, Jr., is fished from the Islamorada Fishing Club. It is limited to 25 anglers, by invitation, who then select their own professionals to guide them in the competition.
This year's Grand Champion is Tim Mahaffey of Miami, Florida guided by Captain Mark Krowka of Islamorada, FL. This team has set a new Tournament record, having won The Grand Championship four (4) times. After dominating with consecutive victories in 2001, 2002 and 2003 Tim said, "We had a terrible practice season, the fishing for us was poor, and I was fishing poorly. Mark did a terrific job of keeping me focused and it all came together this week." Mahaffey and Krowka were the only team to catch their maximum of three "Weight Fish," that is bonefish weighing over 8 lbs. They added seven "Release Fish" for a total of 3,105 points.
The runner-up was Bert Scherb of Chicago, IL, also the Chairman of the Keys Spring Invitational Bonefish Fly Tournament and guided by Captain Kevin Guerin of Big Pine Key, FL. Twice a past Grand Champion, Scherb said "during the three-day tournament we fished from Bahia Honda to Key Largo, ocean and back-country, a magnificent show of versatility by Captain Guerin." They caught two Weight Fish and six Releases for a total of 2,926 points.
Third Place was won for the second consecutive year by former Grand Champion Michael Sullivan of Arlington, VA, guided by Captain Duane Baker of Tavernier, FL. "Duane gave me ample opportunity, but the fish were very tough" said Sullivan. They had one Weight Fish and four Releases totaling 1,795 points.
Ned Johnson of Charleston, SC fishing with Captain Tim Klein of Tavernier, FL captured Fourth Place. Captain Klein guided Ned's uncle to a new pending world record bonefish (15lb., 1oz.) in March of this year. "I was hoping some of the magic would rub off on me and it did," said Johnson, "we'll be back again next year." The team had one Weight Fish and four Releases, comprising 1,785 points.
The Largest Bonefish (12lb., 12oz.) was caught by Dr. Bruce Pratt of Beaufort, SC guided by Captain Robert Klein of Tavernier, FL. "It was one of my great thrills in the 20+ years of fishing this tournament. All kudos to Robert," said Dr. Pratt.