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Articles:Avid Contributors :

By: Capt. Ray Kelly

Itís Sailfish Time...
Sailfishing is one of the most exciting fish to catch. Many anglers think this is only for the rich and famous. This is far from the truth. YOU can go sailfishing also. You just have to make the time. Itís sailfish time now in Florida. I love Florida. Florida is a great place to go when weather here gets cold and the snow starts. You can catch sailfish off Stuart , Palm Beach and south to the Florida Keys from November through February and be sure to get the Best Deals on Hotels. My favorite is the Florida Keys. Islamorada has some of the best fishing in the world especially for sailfish. Islamorada is known as the Sportfishing Capital of the World.

As some of you already know, we have filmed the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament in Islamorada for the past four years for our television show, Adventures in Fishing with Capt. Ray Kelly. The tournament is held during the third week in January which is in the prime of Sailfish season in the Keys. During last years filming, we filmed on board, GONFISHIN V with Capt. Glen Miller and on CATCH 22 with Capt. Scott Stanczyk. The Cheeca Team was fishing on the CATCH 22. The anglers on board these two boats caught so many sailfish that we had to broadcast the tournament during two shows. The sailfish action was fabulous.

Julie Perrin-Olsen, Tournament Director and Director of Public Relations for Cheeca Lodge, refers to the tournament as "the most prestigious tournament in the Florida Keys." I must say the tournament is well organized and the anglers are very competiive. The captains that fish The Presidential are the best of the best. Cheeca Lodge is the most exclusive resort in Islamorada with oceanfront rooms and suites, two pools, two restaraunts, a fishing pier and boat dock. Cheeca even has a golf course. Cheeca Lodge is the place to stay when fishing or vacationing in the Florida Keys.

This filming was special as my son, Christopher, was filming the tournament with me. Chris took the time from his busy schedule to be the primary cameraman for this shoot. Chris and I work well together which makes things a lot easier. On Sailfish shoots, one cameraman tries to concentrate on filming the sailfish jumping and dancing on the water while the other cameraman will capture the action in the cockpit. The acrobatics that sailfish put on really get an anglers blood flowing. To capture these jumps and dances on film is no easy task. Chris is one of the best. Viewers have no idea how much work goes into producing ADVENTURES IN FISHING.

On the first day, Chris and I were on board, GONFISHIN V. Capt. Glen Miller is one of the best captains in Islamorada and one of the best captains that I have ever worked with. It did not take long after the bait was caught by mate Rick Gulia. Ballyhoo are the best bait to use and are caught with a cast net at the crack of dawn. The lines went into the water at 8:30 AM and the action started. Jorge Alvarez was fishing with his uncle, Tevy Wellins. Jorge had never caught a sailfish before. It did not take long before Jorge was hooked up.

The sailfish jumped and skyrocketed in the air. The sailfish danced on the surface at the boats stern and then was tagged and released. This is a catch and release tournament. There is also an award for most tagged fish. Jorge was happy and proud. Another fish came not long after and again Jorge was quick to jump on the rod. Tevy was glad to see his nephew having fun. Tevy has caught many sailfish in the past and he let Jorge land most of the fish on this trip. This fish was landed. Another fish hit one of the baits but this was not a sailfish. It was a 25 pound Wahoo. Jorge landed this one also. His first wahoo. This wahoo captured the Most Outstanding Catch award. Jorge was having a great day. Tevy landed the next fish which was a baracuda. The action was unbelievable. GONFISHIN V was definitely doing well. In the afternoon, Jorge and Tevy battled sailfish and landed both of them. What a day! Five sailfish landed. The GONFISHIN V team was tied for 2nd place but because they caught their last fish later than the others, they were in fourth place. Jorge will remember this day for the rest of his life.

We filmed on board, CATCH 22, the second day. The Cheeca Fishing Team composed of Dave Chaplin, Alan Ritter, Russell Leger and Capt. Dan McArthy were fishing with Capt. Scott Stanczyk and his mate Mark Ellis.

CATCH 22 also had a great first day. The lines were in at 8:30 AM and a double was immediately hooked up. Two sailfish on at once is a sight to see never mind film. Russell Leger hooked up first with Dave Chaplin hooking up second. It takes a team effort all around. Capt. Stanczyk coordinated the battle. Russell let his sail take drag and swim away from the boat while Dave battled his fish close. Chris and I captured the action on film. It would be great if they both landed their fish. These battles last over an hour but they both landed their sailfish. CATCH 22 was now tie for lst place. The angler on the DEE CEE hooked up with a triple and believe it or not she landed all three fish by herself. The DEE CEE was now tie for 2nd place with 8 sailfish. Dave Chaplin landed another sailfish giving the Cheeca Team 8 sailfish putting them in 2nd place. Two tuna were also caught. It was another fantastic day.

I knew we had another great show filmed for ADVENTURES IN FISHING. The final results were Relentless-lst place with 9 sailfish, Catch 22- 2nd Place with 8 sailfish and Dee Cee- 3rd Place with 8 sailfish.

The Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament is a first class tournament. I highly recommend it. Next years tournament is scheduled for January 18-20, 2001. Give Julie Olsen a call at 1-800-327-2888 or 305-664-4651 for more information. We will be there again filming another show for ADVENTURES IN FISHING. I hope to see you there also.

Even if you can not make the Presidential, YOU can still experience some of the fine sailfishing on one of the many charters boats in the area. Capt. Glen Miller of GONFISHIN V can be reached at 305-852-3427. Capt. Scott Stanczyk of CATCH 22 can be reached at 800-742-7945 or 305-664-2461. You can even try your luck by yourself by renting a boat at SPLASH WATERSPORTS in Islamorada. The number is 305-664-8892. THE POWER BOAT CLUB in Jensen Beach also rents fishing boats. Their number is 888-219-0703. But the only way for you to catch a sailfish is to get out there and give it a try. As they say, TRY IT, YOUíLL LIKE IT. Actually YOUíLL LOVE IT!!!

Give ADVENTURES IN FISHING a call at (631) 744-5951 or email and we will make the arrangements for you. Donít forget to check the Adventures In Fishing Website at And remember- "Letís get kids hooked on Fishing NOT drugs!"

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Capt. Ray Kelly is a USCG licensed charter boat captain. His boat, ADVENTURES, is based in Riverhead, NY with charters available in Peconic Bay, Shinnecock Bay and offshore out of Shinnecock Inlet. Flounder, Fluke, Bluefish, Striped Bass, Shark and Tuna charters are available when in season. He is Executive Producer of ADVENTURES IN FISHING WITH CAPT. RAY KELLY, a weekly television show which airs in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and California. They are always looking for charter, party and private boats to be featured on the show. For further information, call Starlight Productions at (631) 744-5951.


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