by Bob Wonders
I think I have made this point before, but happy to do so again; Key West is one of my very favourite places on this wonderful planet.
Fine blue alongside ready to be tagged and released off Key West. - Key West Marlin
It is at the southernmost tip of the continental United States, about 160 miles (257km) south of Miami, Florida, but it’s really another world, a world where fun is the name of the game.
Fishing, scuba diving powerboat racing and partying, not necessarily in that order, are among the factors that make Key West a desirable location.
Here is the home of America’s legendary bar, Sloppy Joe’s, the home of the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest and it’s where you’ll find 'The Little White House', so named after former US President Harry S Truman declared the building his 'summer white house' (Harry knew a good thing when he saw it).
On the fishing front, Key West has an enviable reputation and many tournaments attract anglers from across the globe to take on the many species found in the nutrient-rich waters of the Keys.
Recently, two anglers went home very happy indeed, $25,000 in their pockets after wining the Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament.
Dan Richards and Harry Cameron, both Floridians from Fort Myers, fished the three-day tournament form their boat ‘Moppy Dick II.’
Dan released his fish, a 100lb (45.36kg) blue marlin on day three and Harry reeled in his 150lb fish on day two.
Ironically, both fish were caught on the same green and yellow jethead lure, within a couple of kilometres of each other and at about the same time mid-morning.
'That was our strategy for Saturday, we wanted to go to the same place and see if we could get lucky again,' Bob Beasley, another of the crew from Fort Myers, said.
The boat’s captain, Ronald Lea, a retired optometrist also out of Fort Myers, was elated with his team’s victory, extending thanks to the vessel’s owner Richard Haskins.
'He was not on board this time, but he’s sponsored us for a long time and we’ve never caught anything, si I think he’ll be very surprised when he gets my voicemail,' Ronald said.
‘On Course’, skippered by Bill Curry, of Tampa, took second place in the tournament when angler Mike Zalewski, of Seminole released a fine blue.
His catch combined with a 20lb (9kg) dolphin fish caught by Ryan Harrington and a 26lb of the same species caught by Bob Dietz.
‘Blue Heaven’, skippered by Tarpon Springs’ Captain Ed Thompson, claimed third place when angler Steve Swindale released a blue marlin and caught a 17lb (8kg) wahoo.
The tournament was staged during Key West’s popular Hemingway Days Festival, which attracts scores of men attempting to resemble the late and legendary author.
About 250 anglers competed in the tournament, and fished from 44 vessels according to Tournament Director Tim Greene.
Fancy talking on the tournament yourself?
Easy, the 2012 event is scheduled for July 18-21 and details are available at the website, www.keywestmarlin.com
Don’t say you weren’t alerted.