When Hurricane Irma hit the Keys on Sept. 10, affecting many hotels and restaurants, Fall Backcountry Fly Championship organizer Paul Tejera made a call to cancel the Oct. 27 and 28 tournament to the dismay of many guides who could use the business since many of their trips were canceled due to the effects of the storm.
So with there being so much need for the guides, Tejera put together a fun format for fishing, the 2017 Hurricane Cup that took place Oct. 28 from the Lorelei Restaurant and Cabana Bar in Islamorada, with money collected donated to the Guides Trust Foundation. Anglers could fish from anywhere in the Keys, from the Flamingo Marina to Key West. Target species were tarpon, bonefish, permit, redfish and snook.
When it was over, Islamorada resident Gail Kennedy McManus, fishing with her North Carolina friend Lisa Everett, caught and released 255 snook, which put them above all other teams to take home awards for top guided team, most snook releases, top spin team and top female angler for Everett for her 150 snook. They were guided by Islamorada Capt. Larry Sydnor.
The winning top unguided team comprised Islamorada residents Kyle Velunza and Karina Kempter, who fished with their friend Nelson Padron from Miami. They released 95 snook on fly and spin tackle.
Most tarpon releases: Jayce Chamizo from Islamorada and Lincoln Rodriguez from Miami. They also had the most permit releases. Most bonefish and top junior angler went to Konnor Ross and Capt. Randy Towe from Islamorada
Most redfish releases were by Capt. Mike Hutchisson and brother Greg Hutchisson from Miami Springs. The Fly Division champion and winner of the Most Species Award went to Jeff Harkavy from Coral Springs and Capt. Steve Thomas from Islamorada.
The breakdown of releases: 644 snook, 34 tarpon, 13 redfish, two bonefish and one permit. Anglers on 36 boats.