For more than half a century, the Key West Fishing Tournament has celebrated the rich variety of species found in Florida Keys waters while providing a sportfishing challenge for enthusiasts. Anglers of all ages and abilities can compete in the 2018 tournament beginning Monday, Jan. 1.
More than 40 species of fish, both weighed and released, are targeted during the competition, which is free and open to the public through Aug. 31, 2018.
While past years’ tournaments typically ran from March or April through November, the dates were changed to encourage winter visitors to the Florida Keys to enjoy the competitive experience.
Visiting and resident fishing aficionados are invited to enter their catches at a tournament weigh station, or online at enter.keywestfishingtournament.com, during the event. Participants can fish from a boat, bridge or land.
The tournament features divisions for men, women, junior anglers ages 10 to 15 and Pee Wees under 10 years old. Its format is appropriate for newcomers eager to drop a line, parents sharing their favorite sport with kids and veteran anglers seeking worthy aquatic targets.
Anglers in each of the four divisions win awards for the heaviest of 33 species in multiple line classes and artificial casting categories.
Other awards recognize the most releases of barracuda, blue marlin, bonefish, dolphin, permit, sailfish and tarpon. The Key West Fishing Tournament strongly encourages the release of game fish and will not recognize any killed sailfish, marlin, spearfish or tarpon for award purposes.
All participating anglers receive certificates noting their catches and qualify for a variety of awards.