HomeOutdoorsFeatureReel Time: Results in...

Reel Time: Results in from the 2023 Waterman

The third annual Waterman Fly Fishing Tournament was held this past weekend. The two-day, fly-only redfish tournament with a Snook Calcutta (an award for the longest snook of the tournament) was a sellout with 126 anglers registered. The fishing boundaries were wide-ranging, including the west coast of Florida from Crystal River to the southernmost tip of Sanibel Island. The photo submission format and the angler tournament app made it possible for fishermen in this entire range to participate. The tournament culminated in an awards banquet and prize-rich raffle at the Bradenton Yacht Club on Sunday evening, an event that was made possible by a large number of generous sponsors. All proceeds from the tournament benefited Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection, preservation and improvement of the Tampa Bay watershed.

The 63 two-angler teams received a collared long-sleeve tournament shirt, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper hats, dinner for two at the awards ceremony and one raffle ticket for each angler. Target species were redfish and snook. Scoring was done by the highest combination of the two longest redfish caught between day one and day two. If a tie had occurred in any of the three top places, it would have been decided by a casting competition based on fly casting distance and accuracy.

Sponsors were pivotal to this event and the fishing community stepped up to support TBWK’s mission. A full list of sponsors is available on the Tampa Bay Waterkeeper website.

Some quality redfish were landed, but among the anglers I spoke to there was concern with the overall abundance of fish as well as the condition of the bay. That sentiment was shared by tournament organizer and TBWK Board member Adam Fernandez in his introduction at the evening’s awards ceremony and raffle. A total of 82 fish were weighed in during the two-day tournament including nine snook, the biggest at 25.5 inches.

Seventy-two redfish were entered in the tournament. The biggest, at 34 inches, was caught by Pierson Monetti of the first-place team Crawl Mode with Josh Glidden. The team entered two fish totaling a combined 65 inches. Monet- ti’s company, MRIC Spatial, was a platinum sponsor of the tournament. Second place was claimed by Team Not Ready with Leigh West and Brandon Chircop. Their two fish totaled 62.5 inches. Third place was awarded to Team Bar Fly with a two-fish total of 54 inches.

There was great camaraderie, a dinner, a raffle with many fine products and an inspirational presentation by Bill Horn. Horn is vice-chair of the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust (BTT) and former assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. He is the author of “Seasons on the Flats,” “On the Bow” and many other literary works. Bill has been deeply involved in Everglades restoration for the last 20 years. He’s been a major force behind BTT’s work on water quality, fisheries management and federal policy. In his speech, he mentioned BTT’s recent study of pharmaceutical drugs in bonefish. The study was expanded to include redfish in Florida waters to show the problem was more widespread than the Florida Keys. Tampa Bay was one of the regions sampled and the redfish were found to have some of the highest levels of pharmaceutical drugs, including antidepressants, blood pressure medications, painkillers and a host of other compounds. Horn finished by saying that the technology exists to remove these compounds and emphasized the critical need to implement them before the drugs enter the environment further. Organizations like Tampa Bay Waterkeeper are on the front line of the defense of our littoral environment and deserve the support of anglers and all those who appreciate the threatened coastal ecosystem. The challenge is to make decision-makers aware of the concerns and have them address them at the state and national levels. Your vote is critical to making this a reality. See how your local, state and federal representatives have voted on these issues at the League of Conservation Voters website. As Horn mentioned in his closing statement, “if we don’t do this, this might be the last generation of anglers to have the opportunity.” Join Tampa Bay Waterkeeper and be a part of the solution.

Most Popular

More from Author

Try a beach fishing adventure

Are you an accidental angler? Someone who might not be passionate...

Egmont, Passage keys prove enchanting

Extending approximately 5 miles from Anna Maria Island to St. Petersburg,...

Tarpon Primer: Part two

Although tarpon can be one of the most exciting gamefish to...

Tarpon primer: Part One

Tarpon season is one of the most anticipated times of the...

First win for Shady Lady

ANNA MARIA – After two halves of youth soccer action, team AMI Coconuts could not put a point on the scoreboard against The Intuitive Foundation squad in the 8- to 10-year-old recreational soccer league at The Center of Anna Maria Island. The Coconuts team put up a strong...

Buyers losing hope

Tired of waiting for mortgage rates to come down? You’re not alone. Every potential buyer out there is waiting for the same thing, the problem is the Federal Reserve isn’t moving the needle, so it might be a long wait. The Federal Reserve made no move in their...

Try a beach fishing adventure

Are you an accidental angler? Someone who might not be passionate about fishing but who has always wondered what all the hype is about? Maybe you’re an avid freshwater angler from the north unfamiliar with the salt. Whatever your situation, if you want to get a taste...

Latest Pine Avenue bid rejected

ANNA MARIA – Following Mayor Dan Murphy’s recom­mendation, the city commission rejected the latest Reimagining Pine Avenue bid received from C-Squared. On May 9, the commission voted 5-0 in favor of rejecting C-Squared’s approximately $1.4 million bid to construct a one-block Reimagining Pine Avenue prototype area that was...

Candidate qualifying commences soon

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – The candi­date qualifying periods will soon begin for those seeking election or reelection during the 2024 election cycle. Anna Maria provides a two-week qualifying period. Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Manatee County provide one-week qualifying periods. All city commission and may­oral terms on the...

Farrington secures petition signatures

MANATEE COUNTY – Mana­tee County Supervisor of Elec­tions candidate Scott Farrington has secured enough petition signatures to avoid paying a $10,133 qualifying fee. The one-week qualifying period for county candidates begins on Monday, June 10 at noon and ends on Friday, June 14 at noon. Farrington will face...

Captain: Derelict boats looming issue

CORTEZ - Tour boat Capt. Kathe Fannon is questioning why authorities are focusing on the removal of Raymond “Junior” Guthrie’s net camp from the waters off Cortez while ignoring more than 20 derelict boats in the same waters. “The net camp is who we are, it’s our heritage,”...

Season’s first shorebird nest discovered

BRADENTON BEACH – The first shorebird nests this year on Anna Maria Island have been spotted and marked by Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring volunteers. A colony of least terns began nesting the week of May 6 at an undisclosed location in Bradenton Beach. A...

Mayors discuss law enforcement consolidation

ANNA MARIA – Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy and Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth are not on the same page when it comes to the potential consolidation of law enforcement services, with each mayor preferring their city’s law enforcement agency take over policing in both cities. As is...

March tourism numbers soar

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – March tourism numbers are up from last year in all three Island cities, significantly so in the City of Anna Maria. Each month, the Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office reports how much income the county’s 5% tourist tax produces. The tax is collected from...

Water quality advisory in effect at Palma Sola

PALMA SOLA - The Florida Department of Health in Manatee County (DOH-Manatee) has issued a water quality advisory for Palma Sola South due to high bacteria levels. Tests on May 6 and 8 indicate that the water quality at Palma Sola South does not meet the recreational water...