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Do you derby? Hit your stride in these summer tournaments.

Most fishing tournaments these days are single day affairs, or maybe a weekend event. For whatever reason, fishing derbies--where the competition is extended over a long period of time--have phased out of fashion. But perusing the tournament calendar on the Florida Sportsman website, you will notice a few derby style events on the horizon. This month, there are two opportunities for anglers to compete without having to be at a particular place on a given day. That makes it much easier for those working odd days or shifts to get in on some interesting action.

Down in Ft. Lauderdale, Barbara and Don Ferguson will run the 16th annual Dolphin Roundup out of Competition Tackle ( benefitting Hospice by the Sea. The derby runs through the entire month of June and has an interesting format for scoring points.


"The big fish wins a thousand bucks," Don says, "but there is a lot more going on with prize drawings."

Don is referring to his unique format of entering fish throughout the derby month. Each team can enter a total of eight fish (only one per fishing day). The catch is, each entered fish must be larger than the previous. The first fish has to be legal--over 20 inches in Florida. "Each time a team weighs a fish that fits the size criteria they get another entry into the prize drawing at the party." That prize pool is quite extensive, and includes a weekend stay at Bimini Sands Resort. "We have a hard and fast rule that you must be present at the party to win." This format means the team captain is forced to strategize, especially if they catch a few fish the first time they go out. Enter the biggest one as your first, and you might not get a chance to enter another. On the other hand, enter the little fell a and risk the chance of getting skunked the rest of the month.


Don holds that the latter option is the best choice in this particular tournament. "One grand is a nice prize, but our prize list is so massive that you could end up winning way more stuff in the raffle. Each entered fish is worth a ticket, so that's the gamble I'd take."


On top of the prize drawing, each team can enter the "Hospice Hold'em" tournament. If they do, they will get a playing card each time they weigh a fish (up to 7 entries). At the party, the top 5 cards are considered the poker hand, and that money is divided between the winner (60%) and Hospice by the Sea (40%). Contact Barbara Ferguson (954) 581-4476 for more details.

Another derby that spans the entire month of June is the First Annual Angler Action Derby, which will cover the entire east coast of Florida, including the Keys. In this event, the fishing data takes the spotlight. "In this case, the fishing data has more value than the fish themselves," tournament chairperson Holly Andreotta explains. "Every time a registered angler logs their fishing trip data into our data collection program, they earn a ticket for our prize raffle (one trip per day). Even if they don't catch a fish that day, the fishing trip has value to recreational fishing. So this might be the first derby where someone who gets skunked every day has just as much of a chance of winning the biggest prizes as the person who catches the biggest or most fish."

The AAP is a database of fishing trips that has recently expanded to include just about every gamefish that swims in Florida. This data is needed so biologists and fishery managers can get a more accurate idea of what people are catching.

"More importantly, what people are releasing, where the fish are, and where the fish aren't," Holly says. "It is very simple to log your trips into our system. Simply keep track of what you catch and how long you fished. Even though we've expanded the species list, our boat form still works and can be downloaded directly from our site."

For the derby, anglers are encouraged to include all of their catch data each time they fish in June. That includes location, what you caught and how big it was, and whether you released or kept the fish. Free iPhone and Android apps allow anglers to send this info, along with a confirmation photo, straight from the boat. "This program will change the culture of fishing," said Jim Bandy, Chairman of the Snook & Gamefish Foundation. "The derby is a great way to get the word out to our rank and file anglers, who are the true eyes and ears of what is happening on our waters.

"We're thrilled that fishery managers are starting to take this data seriously. Recreational anglers are starting to take care of ourselves, and it's about time." Bandy has volunteered to roast a pig at the party in Jensen Beach, where there will be live entertainment and prizes raffled to derby participants.

The raffle and recognition bash will be held on July 7th at the River Palms Cottages and Fish Camp in Jensen Beach. For more info contact Holly Andreotta,
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Title Annotation:Tournament Insider
Author:Fitzgerald, Brett
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Jun 1, 2012
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