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Mine the South Florida Sport Fishing Brain Trust at the Blazing Mako
By Sue Cocking, Guy Harvey Outpost Travel Journalist
Whether or not you are registered to compete in the Blazing Mako Tournament & Festival June 17-19 at the Islander, a Guy Harvey Outpost in Islamorada, you are warmly invited to listen to a host of local inshore and offshore fishing experts spill their secrets.
The Papa’s Pilar Fishing Seminar will be held June 17 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Angler House Marina with free admission for tournament anglers and a $20 donation to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation from the public. The seminar will include a complimentary rum tasting presented by Papa’s Pilar and beer sampling from Saltwater Brewery.
The list of presenters is beyond impressive:
The Blazing Mako inshore tournament honoree has not lost his fly rod and light-tackle touch– even at age 86. Still scoring impressive inshore tournament titles, the IGFA Hall of Famer/author/multiple world-record holder is likely to expound on fly-casting, sight-fishing, tackle selection and his coveted recipe for Rum Dumb Boogie Punch. Make sure to ask him to demonstrate his game-changing ‘down-and-dirty’ technique for fighting large tarpon. It will shorten your tarpon fights considerably, saving your arms and shoulders and allowing the big fish to fight another day.
CAPTAINS BOUNCER SMITH AND ABIE RAYMOND
One of the best all-around sport fishing guides in the U.S., an IGFA Legendary Captain and champion offshore tournament guide, Smith is a staple on the national fishing seminar circuit because he doesn’t hold back. Ask him ANYTHING and he will not prevaricate. Maybe you’d like to know how he guided client Marty Arostegui to the extremely rare catch of a swordfish on fly rod. Ask away.
Smith’s longtime mate, captain Abie Raymond also will appear. And besides dispensing tips on everything from deep-dropping to the science of using birds to find fish, Raymond can lend expert advice on free diving for lobster.
CAPTAIN STEVE THOMAS
Nicknamed “Nemo” and “The Natural” for his innate fish-finding abilities, Thomas has guided both expert and novice anglers to catches of every inshore species that roams the Florida Keys. The 25-plus-year veteran captain has refined the art/science/magic of determining where and when to sight-fish for bonefish, tarpon, permit, snook, redfish and many other gamefish and how to select the natural and artificial baits and tackle that are best suited for the quest. Thomas will be on the poling platform in the Blazing Mako, steering Apte and his co-angler–the winning bidder in an online auction–to all the eligible inshore species.
CAPTAIN MATT BELLINGER
This popular light-tackle flats and back country guide specializes in family fishing aboard his roomy and versatile bay boat, providing a fun introduction to the sport for novice adults and their kids. His friendly manner and low-key instruction have turned many a newbie into a skilled, competent angler. You’ll want to pepper him with questions if you are trying to turn your youngsters into anglers. Bellinger is well known for his live fishing reports airing on several Keys radio stations.
CAPTAIN RANDY TOWE
From plying the flats in his 18-foot skiff to venturing far offshore in his 34-foot center console, this veteran Upper Keys captain does it all–from snapper to swordfish.
Towe also designs and builds boats and top-quality custom fishing rods. Winner of both inshore and offshore fishing tournaments, Towe covers the Keys region for television’s popular Chevy Florida Insider Fishing Report. Ask him about springtime sight-fishing in the Keys for tailing sailfish. Or ask him where to catch redfish in the Everglades. He’s got you covered.
CAPTAIN RICHARD BLACK
One of the hottest young flats guides in the Keys, captain Richard Black has quickly achieved a reputation for putting fly rod and light tackle anglers on the “Big Three” of the flats– bonefish, tarpon and permit. A consistent top tournament guide, Black also has a knack for locating big inshore gamesters such as snook, redfish, black drum and sea trout. He’s already mapped a winning strategy for the inshore division of the Blazing Mako. Get him to tell you about it.
- STEPHEN DAVIS
Although not a fishing guide, Davis is a big help to the Keys sport fishing community. As an ecologist with the non-profit Everglades Foundation, Davis has been conducting research in and around Florida Bay since the mid 1990s. A lack of freshwater flow from the Everglades into the bay has caused algae blooms, sea grass die-offs and some local fish kills. Ask him to explain what’s going on and the prognosis for the bay’s recovery.
Sue Cocking chronicles the Guy Harvey Outpost travel and adventure experience in regular blog posts on GuyHarveyOutpostNews.com/. For 21 years, Cocking covered the full spectrum of outdoors adventure opportunities in South Florida and beyond for the Miami Herald, including fishing, diving, hunting, paddling, camping, sailing and powerboat racing. She is a certified scuba diver and holder of an IGFA women’s world fly fishing record for a 29-pound permit.
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