Despite recent grumblings about Keys bonefishing, catching was quite good at the 3 day, Bokor Spring All Tackle Bonefish Tournament. Nine weight fish were landed, a marked (and certainly welcomed) increase over the last several years of this event. The largest fish was a giant 29 inch to the fork whopper that was landed by Robert Collins and Capt. Mark Gilman. This downtown resident was over 14 pounds!
The new scoring system was designed to measure and photograph the fish on a ruler, and convert inches into points, instead of pounds. Historically in the bonefish tourneys, any bone over 8 pounds was brought back to the dock and officially weighed and then released. New Florida laws now protect the bonefish, and do not allow for possession. The updated method of length value is much kinder to the fish, with less handling, transportation and possibly damaging trauma. These valuable gamesters are now immediately returned to their own backyard after a battle, giving them the very best chance of survival. Any bonefish under 8 pounds is a release, and is generally unhooked in the water, with little or no actual direct contact.
Maverick Mirage 18 owner Troy Pruitt dominated the Spring All Tackle with a terrific performance of 12 releases and 4 weightfish while guided by Capt. Brian Helms. The dozen speedy silver bullets also won the team the Most Releases Trophy. I watched Frank Delucas win Second Place honors with 9 releases and 2 weight fish. Brian and I both fished Biscayne Bay for all three days of the event, a very long run from the Islamorada Fishing Club each morning, and back in the afternoon, but well worth the trip. Frank and I covered the distance, all the way to Sands Cut, in about one hour and 15 minutes running at 4500 RPM’s with a 115 Four Stroke on my 18 HPX. Remarkably, we used just over one half of a tank of fuel for each day. Collins and Gillman added another weight to come in Third just behind us. The Largest Permit Award was grabbed by Jim Bokor Jr. and Capt. Jared Raskob with a 33 incher to the fork of the tail.