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Sailfish tournaments kick off the New Year in the Florida Keys

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The Key Largo Sailfish Challenge provides light-tackle competition and good-cause camaraderie for seasoned and amateur anglers Friday through Sunday, Jan. 3-5. Teams of up to four anglers can put their 20-pound line skills to task, vying for cash prizes and trophies that are awarded to the top three finishers.

The event is a signature fundraiser for the Coral Shores High School band program through auctions and raffles. Headquartered at Sundowners on the Bay, mile marker 103.9 bayside, the annual event kicks off Friday with a 6 p.m. registration followed by cocktails. Fishing Saturday, Jan. 4, starts with lines in the water at 8 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m. Sunday's fishing runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. A final evening of cocktails, dinner buffet and awards ceremony starts at 6:30 p.m. Entry fee for a boat's first angler is $525 and the second through fourth anglers pay $475 each.

If this week isn't good for you, there's always next week! The Don Gurgiolo Sailfish Classic, a Redbone at Large tournament series event that virtually guarantees on-the-water action for anglers, is moving to January to coincide with the tail-walkers' seasonal peak.

For years a pre-Christmas boat team event, the popular challenge now is set for Friday through Sunday, Jan. 10-12, 2014. The tournament celebrates the legacy of the late skipper Don Gurgiolo, a pioneer of contemporary offshore light-tackle and live-ballyhoo fishing techniques.

Each year, nearly 100 anglers compete for the most release points in the all-release tournament. First- through third-place awards, as well as high-point angler awards, are to be presented.

A registration and rules meeting is set for Friday evening at Marker 88 restaurant, mile marker (MM) 88 in Islamorada.

Saturday's fishing is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., followed by a 5-7 p.m. standings party at Wahoo's Bar and Grill at Whale Harbor Marina, MM 83.5 oceanside.

Fishing resumes at 8:30 a.m. Sunday and continues until 3:30 p.m. Dinner and awards are scheduled from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at Marker 88 restaurant.

Tournament entry fee is $525 for the first angler and $475 for each additional angler on a vessel, up to four per boat.

For tournament information and registration, contact Tammie Gurgiolo at fishnbully@msn.com or 305-240-9337
Islamorada visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/islamorada or 1-800-FAB-KEYS
Florida Keys fishing: www.fla-keys.com/fishing
Social: facebook.com/floridakeysandkeywest · twitter.com/thefloridakeys · youtube.com/FloridaKeysTV

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