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Orlando’s Miss Dara Bagwell recently celebrated her very first flats Grand Slam. She ripped out of the gate with two pre-dawn tarpon of 40 and 120 pounds, both fooled with golf ball-sized live crabs and 20 pound spinning tackle. In between these active jumpers, her partner Barry Burnette bested a 120 pounder, also before sunrise.
At daybreak, a finned-out permit on the hunt consumed another of Dara’s crabs, and after a slalom course follow in the 18 HPX through several lobster traps and floats, the white-lipped 24 pounder was reluctantly posing for the camera. Only moments later a three pound bonefish fell all over Miss Bagwell’s shrimp, fully completing the hat trick by just 9:20 a.m.! Incredibly, Dara followed up the next day with a 60 pound tarpon, a 15 pound permit and another 3 pound boner to record consecutive Grand Slams. In the middle of the same day, an overwhelmed Dara allowed Barry to get a bite and ware down an unusually thick tarpon while using a 20 pound stick. Girth measurements at boatside revealed a barrel-chested 45 1/2 incher, Burnette’s largest ever, a monster that was clearly well over 180 pounds! Certainly not the class of fish you would expect to find in August anywhere in the Keys.
The previous week, Burnette spent the weekend in Islamorada with his 9 year old daughter Mallory and 7 year old son Nathan and proudly watched each of them catch their bonefish. The next day, Mallory and Nathan supportively watched their dad catch a pair of 60 pound tarpon, 2 bones of 5 and 7 pounds and permit of 15 and 24 pounds for his first ever Double Grand Slam!
by Capt. Mark Krowka