It might be one of the last fishing tournaments of its kind in South Florida — totally catch-and-release with nine eligible species from freshwater and saltwater operated entirely on the honor system.
The Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association on Sept. 15 presents the 12th annual “Day on the Bay Tournament,” open in all navigable waters of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. But anglers are expected to concentrate their efforts in Biscayne Bay and Florida Bay with forays into adjacent freshwater canals and ponds because the species list includes black bass, bonefish, permit, redfish, shark, snook, snapper, tarpon and sea trout. Prizes are custom-made Biscayne rods and trophies — no money.
“It’s the last honor-system tournament out there,” said T.W. Cyr, a tournament board member and light-tackle guide captain. “If you want to cheat and win a fishing pole, then God bless you.”
The purpose of the tournament is to raise college scholarship funds for students pursuing degrees in agricultural courses of study. To date, “Day on the Bay” has awarded more than $100,000 to high school grads and college students, according to board member Gil Muratori. Entry fees are $75 for adults and $30 for juniors.
This year’s one-day contest takes place under a new moon, which means “a great tide early in the morning; midday tides will stink,” according to Cyr.
The veteran guide’s strategy is to stick to the outside bay waters of Flamingo first thing in the morning in an attempt to rack up snook before they head deep into the back country following their summer spawn, along with sea trout, redfish, gray snapper, shark and if luck really holds, a tarpon. After that, if the weather is calm, Cyr plans to point his skiff to one of the offshore wrecks to catch and release a permit.
“I’m writing off the bonefish,” Cyr said. “You’d have to run to Islamorada to get one.”
Armed with most of the saltwater species, he said he would head to either Nine Mile Pond or Paurotis Pond in Everglades National Park to release the bass.
But Cyr said Biscayne Bay anglers have the same good chance to win. Last year’s top honors were won by a two-man team fishing in Biscayne with fly rods.
To register for the tournament, call Kathryn Walters at 305-248-1117.