Redfish and bonefish were plentiful July 29 in the Florida Keys and anglers of ages 9-25 showed they have the skills to catch and release them. The RedGhost Stalk returned to Islamorada after a three-year hiatus. This tournament, which benefits the non-profit I.F.A.C.T. – Islamorada Fishing and Conservation Trust, showcases South Florida’s talented young anglers in a one-day backcountry redfish and bonefish competition. Anglers can be either guided or non-guided.
Several talented fishing guides lent their time gratis for those families unable to come up with the $125 entry fee, namely captains Steve Friedman (www.flyfishingislamorada.com), Mike Kozma (http://www.worldwidefishing.com/florida/b3339/, Steve Thomas, Dave Denkert and Jason Sullivan. Ross Reeder of Miami, who is not a licensed captain but a successful tournament angler, took off work to take a kid fishing.
The young adults and junior anglers, 28 registered in all, aimed to avoid early morning thunderstorms and caught four tournament slams (a redfish and bonefish combination), and six bonefish and 194 redfish total in the 8.5 hours of possible fishing time, according to tournament organizers Linda Denkert, Brooke Denkert-Black and her husband Capt. Richard Black, assisted by Carmen Perez-Padron, Cheryl Culberson, Bob Royall and several others.
Separated into two divisions, Tucker Hanks guided by Robert Collins was the junior champion with 3,500 points comprised of 35 redfish on spin. Runner-up with 3,400 points among the 19 juniors was Nick Lucchesi with Capt Chris Jones who caught 34 redfish on spin.
Jackson Schafstall and Brad Solis each caught a slam, while Jackson Gable and Kyle Velunza each caught a redfish using fly tackle. Solis placed third in this division fishing with Capt. Richard Black and catching 12 redfish and a bonefish, while Velunza, who fished with Nelson Padron, caught two redfish – one on fly and one on spin – with his fish caught first to make him the division fly champion.
The female champion was Emma Krenik with a redfish while fishing with her broth Luke Krenik.
In the young adult category, Nick Kulig of Miami fishing in his first-ever tournament with Capt. Dave Denkert of Islamorada outpaced competitors with 13 redfish and a bonefish on spin for 2,000 points. Mick Cardella fishing with Capt. Steve Thomas caught two redfish on spin and an amazing nine on fly to wrap up second place and fly champion.
In third place was Anthony Darna with Capt. Steve Tejera with a bonefish and four redfish on spin. Notably, Kevin Kelis caught two redfish on fly, which joined his four on spin.
Since the RedGhost Stalk benefits a non-profit, auction items were many and exciting. Robert Collins walked home with a basketball signed by Miami Heat champion Dwayne Wade, while Cheryl Culberson of Islamorada won the raffle of a sleek white 15-foot mangrove canoe donated by Dolphin Boats. Developed for skinny water and no-troll zones, the flattened transom allows for the addition of a small outboard. (See www.dolphinboats.com).
To keep track of next year’s opportunity to fish the RedGhost Stalk, see http://redghoststalk.com/.
The 2013 sponsors were: Hell’s Bay Boat Works www.hellsbayboatworks.com
Molly Fleming-Fleming Family Foundation
Dolphin Boats www.dolphinboats.com
Lee (Peter) & Barbara Ernst
The Anglers Edge www.ifly.org
International Game Fish Association www.igfa.org
Star brite www.starbrite.com
Mangrove Mikes www.mangrovemikes.com
Continental Trailers www.continentaltrailers.com
Robert-James Sales, Inc. www.rjsales.com
Island Homes of the Keys, Inc. www.islandhomesofthekeys.com
Carbon Marine www.carbonmarine.com
Hampton Inn www.hamptoninn.hilton.com/Islamorada
DOA Lures www.doalures.com
Reef Safe Suncare www.tropicalseas.com
Debbie and Doug Kulig OBM International www.obmi.com/doug-kulig
DePaula Jewelers depaulas.hostedbywebstore.com
Captain Mike Kozma www.worldwidefishing.com/florida/b3339
Captain Steve Friedman www.afishingguide.com
Captain Dave Denkert www.davedenkert.com
Captain Jason Sullivan www.tarponfishing-miami.com
Redbone Tournaments & Art Gallery www.redbone.org
Florida Keys Outfitters www.floridakeysoutfitters.com
Flying Fisherman www.flyingfisherman.com
Islamorada Fishing Club www.theislamoradafishingclub.com
Captain Steve Thomas 305 393-0943
Shake A Leg www.shakelegmiami.com
The Miami Heat www.miamiheat.com
The Miami Dolphins www.miamidolphins.org
Jim & Sherri Trice
Image Graphics 2000, Inc. (954) 425-8199
Skinny Water Culture www.skinnywaterculture.com
Bass Assassin www.bassassassin.com
Lorelei Cabana Bar & Restaurant www.loreleicabanabar.com
Caribee Boat Sales www.caribeeboats.come
Anisa Stewart Designs www.anisastewartdegigns.com
The Fly Shop Miami http://www.flyshopofmiami.com
Hookup Lures www.hookuplures.com