Anglers, guides, fishing celebs give back to Everglades National Park

It’s one of the most fun, unique and challenging tournaments, as anglers fish for seven species set against the backdrop and intriguing beauty of Everglades National Park, while remembering the man warmly known as “Mr. Everglades.”

The Herman Lucerne Memorial Backcountry Championship began in 2000 and is named after the Homestead/Florida City community activist and legendary backcountry fishing pioneer.

Wearing his ubiquitous red bucket hat, Lucerne spent four decades exploring the myriad of twisting mangrove covered canals, fishing its many bays and promoting the park’s protection.

Bonefish, redfish, snook, snapper, tarpon, sea trout and black drum are the focus of the two days.. Started by chairman Dr. Lloyd Wruble the contest awards some 20 prizes to men, women and youth anglers in general, artificial and fly divisions. Anglers or teams catching at least four of the seven species are then in the running for the overall grand championship title.

For the second year in a row the park has been designated as the proceeds recipient.

It’s only natural for Hell’s Bay Boatworks to be the presenting sponsor. The technical flats boat company is named for one of the most captivating areas in the Everglades, a bay that Lucerne graphically described as “hell to get in and hell to get out.”

“The Herman Lucerne is so unique,” said Hell’s Bay president Chris Peterson. “It not only financially supports the anglers’ needs within the Everglades National Park, it also stresses the skills on the Everglades angler by requiring the species to be caught and released from the sweetest backwaters to the saltiest flats. It also provides a great forum in a cooperative effort to communicate the needs and concerns of the Everglades fisherman the park management. We at Hell’s Bay are very supportive of a healthy Everglades National Park for the sustainable use of the backcountry fisherman and it’s why we are so enthusiastically involved.”

“Our core group over this past decade has been some 150 anglers and 150 guides who are passionate about protecting this park,” said tournament president Richard Trotta.

Park Superintendent Dan Kimball said, “We plan to use these funds to support resource protection and to enhance anglers fishing experiences in the Park.”

Already that funding is $15,000 ahead. On the tournament website three $5,000 fishing packages, each offered by Hell’s Bay pro team members, were quickly snapped up. Flip Pallot and Chico Fernandez, both who fished the mazes of the vast Everglades with Lucerne, joined with TV show host Capt. C.A. Richardson, offering the fund-raising specials.

Registration and a silent auction begin Friday, Sept. 21, at 4:30 p.m., at World Wide Sportsman, mile marker 81.5 bayside. Saturday and Sunday are fishing days, and anglers can check in at either World Wide Sportsman or Don’s Bait & Tackle in Homestead, Fla.

An awards presentation is set for Sunday evening at World Wide Sportsman. Appetizers and cocktails are to begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a 6:30 buffet dinner and awards ceremony.

Registration fees are $400 per adult angler, $350 per young adult angler age 17 to 25, and $275 per junior angler age 16 or younger. Social tickets are additional. For more tournament information and to register go to: .

Image courtesy Johnson Communications/Herman Lucerne

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