ISLAMORADA, Fla. — It's been dubbed the "super bowl" of fly- and light-tackle events. From as far away as Ornskoldsvik, Sweden; Murchison Falls in Uganda, Africa and the Daly River of Northern Territory, Australia, 30 champion anglers are headed to the Florida Keys in the U.S. for the eighth annual IGFA Inshore World Championship (IWC), June 29–July 2 in Islamorada.
The 26 men and six women gained entry as winners in one of over 55 fly- and light-tackle IGFA sanctioned tournaments during 2007, held in eight countries around the world and in 12 U.S. states. They represent nearly 3,000 anglers on four continents and were invited to compete in this "tournament of champions" event.
"The contest attracts some of the finest men and women fly- and light-tackle anglers to gather and compete in one of the highest-rated fishing regions with top-rated guides," said Ms. Denise Hartman, IGFA tournament coordinator.
"Fifteen of these champions will be first-time invitees to the tournament. The field also includes two brothers (Jim and Art Bokor, from Tavernier, Fla., and Robbinsville, N.J.) and a father and son (Calvin and Cal Collier Jr. of Lake Forest, Ill., and Atlanta, Ga.), all who have won separate events to get here. We also have two-time NASA space shuttle astronaut and avid fisherman Bruce Melnick (Inglis, Fla.) and former NFL lineman Mark Cooper (Aurora, Colo.), entered."
Local Keys competitors John Timura and Robert Collins are both fresh from another win as members of a five-man team to take a victory in the IGFA Offshore World Championship in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in mid-May.
"Collins is also a two-time and current defending champion of the IWC," said Hartman.
The celebrated world-class inshore catch-and-release format features anglers stalking the Florida Bay waters for bonefish, tarpon, permit, snook and redfish.
On the opening night the anglers will participate in a captain's draw matching a different guide and angler each day. The IWC features three days of fishing with the contestants vying for timepieces. The four major award categories include: Grand Champion (the angler who accumulates the most points for all five targeted species) and first places in the fly, artificial lure and bait-casting divisions. There are also trophies and merchandise for second and third place divisional winners in the three categories as well as to the top three guides.
The point value of the fish is determined by species and the angler's preference choice of fly fishing, artificial lure or bait.
"Within moments of the captain's draw and right up to the end the anglers are strategizing and playing mind games," said tournament director Mike Myatt. "Some anglers will use one fishing approach or all three over the three days. With so many different fishing disciplines represented by the qualifying champions, this format levels the on-the-water playing field."
Fishing and daily scorekeeping take place from the World Wide Sportsman marina and the Islander Resort serves as the tournament headquarters, both located near mile marker 82.
Next year Florida Keys Outfitters located in Islamorada will form a partnership with the IGFA for sport fishing's premier international fly and light-tackle tournament. Florida Keys Outfitters' Sandy Moret will take over the management of the IWC to begin its ninth year.
Sponsors this year include Mercury Outboards, Bacardi, Costa Del Mar, G. Loomis, Hook and Tackle, Islamorada Fish Co., Islander Resort, King Sailfish Mounts, Rapala, Shimano, Stiffy Push Poles, 3M Scientific Anglers, Reel Life Art by Pasta, World Wide Sportsman, Zane Grey Lounge, KD & G Sea Life Masterpieces, Redbone Gallery, Image Graphics 2000, Momoi, Diamond Illusion and Daiichi.
Results of the IGFA IWC along with photos of the previous day's round will be posted each morning on the IGFA's home page at igfa.org.