The fly-fishing-only Islamorada SailFly Championship was on January 8 & 9, and despite challenging weather conditions, “Teams raised 3 to 6 fish a day with teasing and conversions to releases difficult,” said tournament director Sandy Moret. “This is a great group of anglers and captains who realize the extreme challenge in catching an Atlantic sailfish on fly.”
Read more in the press release below.
Challenger II with Dixon, Devries & Lebeouf Win 14th Annual Islamorada Sailfly Championship
On January 8 & 9 a full complement of devoted and talented flyrod anglers gathered for two days of sailfishing in the 14th Annual Islamorada SailFly Championship. This competition allows only fly fishing according to the International Game Fish Association rules using 8 kg (16 pound) tippet supplied by the tournament. Sailfish are raised to the surface with hookless teasers which are pulled from the water when the fly is cast from an out of gear boat. A 50 point release is accomplished when the connection of fly line to leader is brought into the tip top of the fly rod. Leaders must be less than 12 feet in length. If the fish is later billed and the fly retrieved, the release counts for 150 points.
On Wednesday 20 teams faced rainy weather with 30 miles per hour winds and confused rough seas. Bait was scattered and difficult. In spite of the extreme fly fishing conditions, team Challenger II with Islamorada’s Capt Rob Dixon, Brain Devries and Jesse Lebeouf retrieved the fly on two sailfish and took a solid lead. Yabba Dabba Doo with Capt Steve Leopold, Bob Lodge and Al McLeod also retrieved the fly for a 150 point release. Thursday brought less severe conditions but clouds and rain continued for most of the day. With 15 minutes before lines out, Challenger II hooked and subsequently released their third sailfish to ice the win. Yabba Dabba Doo maintained the 1st Runner Up position. This was the third win for Capt. Rob Dixon on Challenger’s teams.
A total of 17 sailfish were hooked up and 4 billed for release during the event. Tournament Director Sandy Moret said “Teams raised 3 to 6 fish a day with teasing and conversions to releases difficult. This is a great group of anglers and captains who realize the extreme challenge in catching an Atlantic Sailfish on fly. They also know heart stopping excitement and anticipation that comes alive when a fish goes for the fly makes this game one of the real “showstopper” events in the entire world of angling!”
Award for Best Other Catch went to Charles Duncan III of Houston and Islamorada aboard Sarinita with Capt Karl Anderson and Capt Rob Fordyce.
The Islamorada Sailfly Championship is sponsored by Florida Keys Outfitters, Rich Products Corporation, The Green Turtle Inn, Green Turtle Wine & Spirits, Craig Reagor of Riverwood Art Farms, Kaiyo’s Restaurant, Pasta Pantaleo’s Signature Gallery and Print Source of the Keys.