ISLAMORADA, Fla. — A perfect game plan Wednesday enabled Mike Gallops and Capt. Larry Sydnor to win the light tackle division of the Florida Keys Outfitters IGFA Inshore World Championship on Thursday.
Gallops, of Naples, and Sydnor, of Islamorada, got two bonefish and a tarpon on the opening day of the tournament, but were unable to get a permit Tuesday.
So, their strategy for Wednesday was to run far into Everglades National Park to catch snook and redfish and then hope to catch a permit for a slam one of each of the five eligible species.
"Our goal was to catch two of each," said Gallops, who ended up catching and releasing three redfish and two snook by noon. "That left enough time to go for permit."
While running in his skiff from the upper reaches of Florida Bay to where the permit were, Sydnor suggested they stop at a spot with some tarpon that he had scouted before the tournament.
"He wanted to go one way and I told him, 'Let's go this way.' I went five minutes out of the way," Sydnor said.
"The first bait I threw, a tarpon grabbed it," Gallops said.
That fish put Gallops in prime position for a double slam two of each species. All he needed was to catch two permit.
It took him 90 minutes to catch one on Wednesday, which gave him a slam for the tournament. That also made his final-day strategy simple catch one more permit for the double slam.
"Today my target was permit to get the double slam," said Gallops, who caught two permit Thursday morning, which had him and Sydnor thinking about a triple slam.
Gallops had shots at bonefish and tarpon, but they didn't pan out and that didn't hurt him, as no other angler could match his double slam. But neither Gallops nor Sydnor breathed easy until they checked the scoreboard at WorldWide Sportsman.
"The pressure was on the whole day," Sydnor said. "We didn't say 10 words the whole day, except to high-five each other when we caught a fish."