ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys -- Linda Denkert of Islamorada selected an all-chartreuse 1/4-ounce jig and made it last to win the 12th annual Backbone Lures Fish Til You Lose It backcountry fishing tournament March 4.
Guided by her husband, Captain Dave Denkert, the multi-tournament winner earned the title of grand champion guided angler and, for the second year in a row, ladies grand champion.
Denkert scored with 11 redfish and one snook release.
The tournament rules allow each angler to choose one Backbone Lures jig, and then fish until it is lost. No additional lures or jigs may be used.
In the unguided division, grand champion was Robert Collins of Naples, Fla. Collins, a top competitor in Keys tournaments and defending Rolex/IGFA Inshore Champion, used a 1/8-ounce tan-and-brown lure to score with four redfish and four snook.
The team grand champions set a new tournament record for total points. Captain Steve Thomas of Islamorada and Paul Wingrove of Tavernier, Fla., caught an amazing 55 redfish, two snook and 20 fun fish for a total of 11,800 points. The anglers used 1/4-ounce white-and-chartreuse jigs.
Thomas also was the grand champion in the guide/fishing division for professional guides who enter the tournament as anglers. He scored with 24 reds, two snook and 10 fun fish.
The junior grand champion was Drew Nobregas of Islamorada. A multi-winner of the Islamorada Junior Sailfish Tournament, Nobregas showed his backcountry mettle by using a 1/4-ounce tan-and-brown jig to score with one snook and three fun fish.
Sixty-five anglers fished from 28 boats during the backcountry challenge, scoring 162 redfish and 18 snook. Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Florida Keys Children's Shelter.