Jim Bokor wins Mercury Outboards Redbone @ Large Little Palm Island Grand Slam

Catches four amazing Slams to Dan Zicari’s three in two-day CF fundraiser


LITTLE PALM ISLAND, In the Fla. Keys,  – After catching a phenomenal four grand slams of fish, Jim Bokor, Tavernier, did leave a few awards for the other anglers in the Mercury Outboards Redbone @ Large Little Palm Island Grand Slam.

Not many, but he did leave a few. 

Several went to runner-up Dan Zicari, Vero Beach, Fla., who himself had an amazing three grand slams of bonefish, tarpon and permit.

One award even went to Bokor’s wife Maryann (couples grand champions) who annually teams with her husband at this, the sixth annual event. Beautiful paintings, etchings and sculptures were awarded to the winners in the tournament, which benefits cystic fibrosis cure research.

“It was probably the best two days of fishing I’ve ever had,” said Bokor.  “I had a great tournament and so did Zicari.”

            “The fishing was indeed outstanding,” agreed Capt. Gary Ellis, tournament director and founder of the Mercury Redbone events.

            “Even though Little Palm Island is not in the series points race, the Bokor and Zicari competition is an extension of several years of ongoing contests between these two gentlemen. What’s rewarding is how much the participation of these guys has helped the charity in raising monies in our fight to catch a cure for CF,” said Ellis.

Bokor is a 4- time (‘92, ‘93, ‘94 and ’99) series grand champion of the three main event Mercury Redbone series (Mercury SLAM, Mercury Baybone and Mercury/Cheeca Redbone) in the Florida Keys.  Zicari lost the ‘99 series to Bokor by 50 points, but bounced back to become the grand champion of the 2000 series.  


Bokor and Hoover’s strategy

Bokor, who was guided by Capt. Tim Hoover, Marathon, gave a review of their fishing strategy and tactics.

“We got a late start and immediately went tarpon fishing,” said Bokor. “We saw one fishing rolling and followed him for a distance until I put a shrimp on his nose and caught him about 8 o’clock. But it turned over cast and with a falling tide we went to the ocean side where it was sunny, for bonefish. I caught four by noon and Maryann caught one. But the clouds hit again and that’s the way we ended the day.

“When we learned that Dan had a grand slam of fish the first day, Hoover joked that ‘Jim, the best you can do is get four slams, the worst nothing,’“ said Bokor.

With an earlier start the second day they again searched in three locations for shrimp hatches where tarpon might be, but found none. Then in the fourth location they didn’t find a hatch, but did find tarpon rolling.  In 15 minutes he had lost two but caught three.

            Bokor now had four tarpon and four bonefish on his score sheet. They headed for Key West for the permit, the final species needed for the grand slam, arriving to the waters they wanted to be in at about 10:15. Within five minutes, Bokor said, they saw two permit, hooking up and catching the biggest of the pair measuring 33 inches. 

Bokor’s fortunes continued as five minutes later he saw another fairly large permit, and with an accurate cast of a crab, it was in the boat moments later.

He said they pushed back on the flat, and after several attempts he caught the third one. But another broke off as his line got caught in the bail. With clouds rolling it was nearly a three-hour wait and a few more spooked fish before they found a single permit feeding on the flat. Moments later it  too was in the boat for a measurement, photograph and release.

            “We had four of each species,” exclaimed Bokor. “It was superb day!”

“Several more times I tried to get Maryann to fish for another one for the couples award, but she was happy, she said, just watching the interaction between me and Tim Hoover in stalking, catching and releasing the fish.”

            Other anglers applauded the competition.   

“I have to hand it to them, that was great planning,” said Larry Sydnor, Ft. Lauderdale, who himself teams with his wife Sharon in many of the Redbone competitions and, like the Bokors, are supporting sponsors.

 “They took the time, effort and planning to make the long rides to where the fish were and catching them while they were in those areas,” said Sydnor.

Three other couples were competing besides the Sydnors and Bokors.


Ambiance of Little Palm Island

Ellis said the fishing was so good it carried late into the evening as two guests from supporting sponsor Rich Products caught two permit off the dock in their evening gowns.

“The two ladies were helped into a boat and they continued to fight the fish close to midnight a half mile from the dock,” he chuckled.

“The ambiance of Little Palm Island is so special,” Ellis continued. “Last year we got so caught up we fished through an evacuation notice for Hurricane Debbie.  We’re so self-contained and laid back here, by the time we heard about the Monroe County evacuation order of the Keys, the threat of the hurricane had subsided.

“That solitude is the kind of feeling you get on Little Palm Island,” he added. 


Lower Keys Fishery growing

The two Mercury Redbone Slam events are the first tournaments in the Keys to promote a grand slam fishing concept, said Ellis.

“Since we started with the S.L.A.M. (Southernmost Light-Tackle Anglers Masters) in Key West in 1990, and then the Little Palm Island Grand Slam tournament six years later, someone has always caught a grand slam of fish each year at these events.”

Ellis, reported that among the 16 boats, 75 fish were caught and released among them 27 bonefish, 30 tarpon and 18 permit.       

“The fishery here continues to grow as the premier destination and the crown jewel of fishing in the lower Keys,” said Ellis.

“We can’t remember over the years anyone catching four slams or for that matter, three,” added Bokor.  “It’s superb,” he repeated.


Series background

Helped by such celebrities as sports hall of famers Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Curt Gowdy and John Havlicek, the Redbone (REDfish and BONEfish) began as a small local tournament in 1988 in Islamorada in the Florida Keys as a fundraiser to help CF patients like tournament founders Capt. Gary and Susan Ellis’ young daughter Nicole. Mercury Outboards joined as a title sponsor 11 years ago. As the series grew, the world leader in fuel efficient, low emissions marine propulsion dedicated increasing manpower and money for the events.

The 14-year old Mercury Redbone series of events have spring boarded national and international attention raising over $2 million dollars to find a cure for CF.

Using the Ellis’ tournament “footprint”, many CF Foundation chapters around the country are beginning to include more Mercury Outboards Redbone celebrity fishing tournaments in their annual special events. The CF Orlando chapter organized its first year event in New Smyrna Beach earlier this year. That was followed by an offshore tournament put on by the Palm Beach chapter, and then by a flats fishing tournament in the Everglades organized by the Naples and Miami chapters.


Upcoming events

The final four events of the season includes the11th Annual Mercury S.L.A.M. Celebrity Tournament, the opening event in the Redbone points series, September 7 – 9 in Key West (for bonefish, tarpon and permit).]

The newest event already booked with 40 boats is the first Mercury Redbone @ Large Nor’East Grand Slam at Montauk, Long Island, New York, September 19 – 21. Anglers will be fishing for blues, striped bass and false albacore in this exclusive area. 

The points series continues at Key Largo with the 11th Mercury Baybone Celebrity Tournament, Sept. 28 – 30 (bonefish and permit) and then the 14th Mercury/Cheeca Redbone Celebrity Tournament in Islamorada, November 2 – 4 for redfish and bonefish.

There are still openings at several of the fall events. For more information on   fishing the Mercury Redbone fall series of celebrity tournaments, please call Susan Ellis at 305-664-2002 in the Florida Keys.



Final standings






Grand Champion Angler: Jim Bokor, Tavernier, Fla, guided by Capt. Tim Hoover, Marathon, Fla.  


Team Grand Champion Anglers: Dan Zicari, Vero Beach, Fla, and Kal Blumberg, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., guided by Capt. Mark Krowka, Davie, Fla. 


Pro Celebrity Angler: Pat Ford, Miami, Fla., guided by Capt. Tim Carlile, Sugarloaf Shores, Fla. 


Couples Grand Champions:  Jim Bokor and Maryann Bokor, Tavernier, guided by Capt. Tim Hoover.


First Runner-up Angler: Dan Zicari, Vero Beach, Fla., guided by Capt. Mark Krowka


Largest Bonefish: Jim Bokor, guided by Capt. Tim Hoover


Largest Permit: Jim Bokor, guided by Capt. Tim Hoover


Largest Tarpon: Dan Zicari, guided by Capt. Mark Krowka


Most bonefish releases: Jim Bokor (4), guided by Capt. Tim Hoover


Most permit releases:  Jim Bokor (4), guided by Capt. Tim Hoover


Most tarpon releases: Jim Bokor  (4), guided by Capt. Tim Hoover


Total Boats: 16


Total Fish Caught and Released 75 --- (27 bonefish, 30 tarpon and 18 permit)


CONTACT:            Pete Johnson

                        Johnson Communications, at 480-951-3654