Twenty-five years! During that time so many amazing advancements have been made since 1988 when a little Fla. Keys fishing tournament began in its own small way to help bring awareness and fund medical research to catch the cure for cystic fibrosis.
“When we started these tournaments we had no idea just how many remarkable strides would be made to increase the life expectancy of young CF sufferers,” said Capt. Gary Ellis, “especially now with the most promising ones towards a cure through gene research.”
On Nov. 2 – 4 they’ll celebrate the finale of the Redbone Trilogy in the Keys as anglers, celebrities and guides take on redfish and bonefish at the 25th annual Redbone hosted by Robert James Sales. Among the notables competing are MLB Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson, NASA astronaut Bruce Melnick, former jai alai star Joey Cornblit, NHL Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen and Jimbo Meador the inspiration for the book and hit movie Forrest Gump. They earn points in fly, bait and artificial categories by catching and releasing the two species. Marine artwork is awarded to the top anglers, teams and guides.
Ellis and his wife Susan founded the Redbone tournament as a grass roots effort to help victims like their then infant daughter Nicole who have CF. With the help of baseball legend Ted Williams and his celebrity friends it raised $16,000 that first year. It’s since grown to nearly 30 international events raising $16 million for medical research at the CF Foundation. Last year’s combined events alone brought in $1.3 million. The events also gained fame on TV as hundreds of top celebrities competed including Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, MLB Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, super model Lauren Hutton, NBA Hall of Famer John Havlicek, the late sportscaster Curt Gowdy and saxophonist/singer “The Big Man” Clarence Clemons.
Redbone Series Championship standings with one tournament left
In the points race, Frank Delucas of Plantation, Fla. leads with 1500 points after winning the 23rd annual S.L.A.M. Key West series opener (1000 pts.), in Sept., and placing third (500 pts.) at the 22nd Baybone in Oct. In second is Baybone winner Ross Reeder, Miami, with 1000 pts while S.L.A.M. and Baybone runnerups Wally Nowacki, Plainfield, Ill., and Bonnie Christ, Alexandria, Va., respectively are tied at third with 750 points for the Redbone series title.
The Islander Resort is the host hotel with dockside parties at the Lorelei Cabana Bar and Marina from 3 – 5 p.m., after the fishing on Saturday and Sunday. Both are at MM 82.
The Redbone is preceded on Friday by the Superfly, a one-day, one-fly competition for the same two species sponsored by The Fly Shop of Miami. Registration is Thursday, Nov. 1.
Entry fee for the Redbone is $3,500 for a two-angler team or $3,000 for an angler to fish with a celebrity and includes two days’ charter fees with a professional guide. The entry fee for the Superfly is $350 per angler who also fishes the Redbone or $500 per angler if not.
“Isolating the CF gene has also paved the way to the genes for many other diseases,” said Ellis. “New CF drug research has helped improve lung function and add a little more time for patients, but there’s still no cure and our tournaments continue in full force till there is.”
With Robert James Sales, The Lorelei, and The Islander Resort other sponsors in The Redbone Trilogy include the Fla. Keys Guides Assoc., Rich Products, Redbone Rods, Double Tree Grand Key Resort, Hurricane Hole, Dragon Fly Boatworks, Snappers, Dove Creek Lodge, Reef Safe Suncare, Image Graphics and Kall Graphics.