With fantastic weather, a spot-on guide and a strong bite of redfish, Ross Reeder, of Miami, earned the grand champion title among other honors at the Redbone Celebrity Tournament Nov. 2 – 4, which also celebrated its silver anniversary as a major fundraiser for cystic fibrosis treatment and research.
Reeder, guided by Captain Dave Denkert of Islamorada, Fla., caught and released 11 redfish on bait, 23 reds on artificial lure and one bonefish on bait during the two-day contest. His teammate, Islamorada resident Brooke Denkert, added four redfish and one bonefish to the total for the team grand championship title. Ms. Denkert won the lady grand champ title as well.
“Anytime you’re paired up with the Denkerts it’s something special whether it be Brooke or Linda who are both amazing anglers,” said Reeder. “Competing in the Redbone has always been something I have wanted to since I was a kid. To win its 25th anniversity is fantastic.”
Reeder in turn won the 2012 Redbone Trilogy award, amassing the most points of any angler who competed in each of three Keys-based Robert James Sales tournaments including the S.L.A.M., Baybone and Redbone. He beat out top contenders Frank Delucas of Plantation, Bonnie Christ, Alexandria, Va., and Wally Nowacki, Plainfield, Ill., among others.
Davey Johnson, manager of the MLB Washington Nationals, released three redfish on artificial and one bonefish on bait to be named celebrity grand champion. Johnson, a resident of Winter Park, Fla., fished with Islamorada Captain Paul Tejera.
Dave Olson, Miami, guided by Capt. Denkert won Friday’s Superfly, a one-day, one-fly competition for redfish and bonefish sponsored by The Fly Shop of Miami. Delucas was second.
Preceding the 25th anniversary event, Johnson and Nicole Ellis, daughter of Redbone founders Capt. Gary and Susan Ellis, placed a memorial wreath to baseball’s Ted Williams in the Florida Keys waters. Diagnosed with CF as an infant, Ms. Ellis is now 28 waiting for a cure.
The ceremonial wreath signified the 10th anniversary of the death of the Boston Red Sox slugger and fly fishing legend, who was instrumental in helping the Ellis’s initiate the event. It’s grown to nearly 30 tournaments internationally raising millions to get closer to a cure for CF.
“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 until there is.”
“After 25 years the good Lord said maybe we need to give them a break with the weather,” laughed Ellis, who has seen his share of fall tournaments hit with hurricanes and other adverse weather. “We could not have had a greater gift to than the magnificent weather for the Redbone. Everybody caught fish. When we started it there was a moratorium on the catch of redfish; now there’s an abundance of redfish, but we still have issues with our bonefish.”
Among the 39 boats field the 78 anglers released a total of 278 redfish and 13 bonefish.
Marine artwork and sculptures were awarded to the top anglers, teams and guides.
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. For more on the Redbone events go online to www.redbone.org or call 305-664-2002.
Image courtesy Redbone