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Islamorada Sailfish Tournament kicks off its 50th event & a Triple Crown Series

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The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament, one of the most enduring tournaments in the Keys, is to recognize its 50-year anniversary Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 5-8.

The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is the first leg of the renowned triple-crown Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship series that also includes the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament, set for Jan. 16-18, 2014, and the Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish Tournament scheduled Jan. 22-23, 2014.

Islamorada Sailfish Tournament rules place a strong emphasis on conservation and sportsmanship, and it is the only event in the series to offer a junior division for anglers age 16 and younger. The event is the primary fundraiser for the Islamorada Charter Boat Association.

The all-release boat event opens with pre-registration at 5 p.m. today, Dec. 5, in the main dining room at Whale Harbor Inn, mile marker (MM) 83.5 oceanside in Islamorada. A kick-off banquet follows featuring an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet with the season's delicacy, stone crabs. The evening concludes with a tournament rules meeting.

Fishing is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6 and 7, and from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.

The weigh-in for fun fish closes Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 4:30 p.m. The public is invited to watch the weigh-in all three days at Whale Harbor Marina.

A 50th anniversary party is planned for 6-9 p.m. Friday at Bud N' Mary's Marina, MM 79.8 oceanside, with dinner at 7 p.m. Sunday is to feature a gala awards ceremony, raffle and all-you-can-eat feast at Braza Leña Brazilian Steakhouse, MM 83.5.

Entry fees received before Nov. 15 are $600 for the first angler fishing aboard a vessel and $500 for each additional angler. Fees after Nov. 15 are $700 and $550, respectively. The junior angler entry fee is $200 regardless of entry date. An unlimited number of anglers is allowed per vessel.

Specially priced Islamorada lodging rates are available for the weekend event.

The Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship series is limited to 25 paid boat teams of elite sport fishermen. With 14 registered boats, $20,000 in prize money is to be awarded, and amounts increase as the number of boat registrants increases.

The deadline to register was November 15 and the entry fee is $2,000 for four anglers. Additional anglers can be added for $200 each. At least one angler must be entered and paid for all three series events by the kickoff of the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament.

Tournament information and registration: www.islamoradasailfishtournament.com/
Islamorada visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/islamorada or 1-800-FAB-KEYS
Florida Keys fishing information: www.fla-keys.com/fishing
Social: facebook.com/floridakeysandkeywest · twitter.com/thefloridakeys · youtube.com/FloridaKeysTV

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