Mercury Outboards Baybone Celebrity Fishing Tournament

Mercury Outboards Baybone Celebrity Fishing Tournament back for 12th year in Upper Keys

Florida Keys Triple Crown of fishing has angler & team slots still available to “catch the cure for CF”; Permit and bonefish await fishermen in famed catch, photograph & release event Oct. 4 - 6  

KEY LARGO, In the Florida Keys — There’s still an opportunity to fish with a TV, or sports personality in the 12TH Annual Mercury Outboards’ Baybone celebrity fishing tournament, scheduled for Friday through Sunday, October 4 - 6, in the waters surrounding Key Largo.

This popular tournament, headquartered at the Westin Beach Resort (MM 97), is the second in the fall trilogy series of Mercury Redbone Celebrity Tournaments in the Florida Keys to raise money to find a cure for cystic fibrosis.

             Among the celebrities competing are Flip Pallot, the host of the ESPN’s Walkers Cay Chronicles, two-time NASA space shuttle astronaut Bruce Melnick,   past football greats Dave Rimington, Eric Laakso and Jon Geisler; former baseball  pitchers Bill Hurst from the Florida Marlins, Rob Murphy from the Cincinnati Reds and Chuck LaMar, the GM of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. There is also former world jai-alai star Joey Cornblit, Miami Channel 7’s Carmel Cafiero, former CNN anchor Brian Nelson and James Harris the 2002 IGFA Inshore artist of the Year. 

Started in 1991, the Mercury Baybone targets bonefish and permit in the upper Keys and Biscayne Bay. Once caught the fish are all measured, photographed and immediately released at the boat.

Original artwork by nationally known artists are awarded as prizes to the top anglers and teams, as well as champion anglers in the general, spin and fly divisions. Artwork is also presented for the largest and most fish caught and released in each target species.

The Baybone’s grand champion angler, as do all the Keys series event champions, will receive a Rolex watch and qualify to compete in the Rolex/IGFA Inshore Invitational Championship next spring.  

“The tournament has a limited number of openings for participants and team entries, with great captains to guide them,” said Redbone founder Capt. Gary Ellis. 

The tournament’s $2,500 individual entry fee includes two days of guided fishing with a celebrity and tickets to all of the tournament’s social functions. For a two-angler team, the entry fee is $3,000. Tickets for all of the social functions are also available at $125 per person. Since its start in 1988, the Redbone series has granted more than $2.5 million to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This year’s combined events which have grown to 24 tournaments internationally are expected to bring in another $1 million.

Registration for the Baybone is slated for Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. in the ballroom of the Westin Beach Resort. Registration is to be followed by a cocktail reception, rules meeting for anglers and guides, kickoff dinner and live auction. Fishing is set for 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, October 5; and 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, October 6.

The awards banquet is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday. For more information on fishing the Baybone or any of the Mercury Outboards Redbone Celebrity Tournament Series events, call Susan Ellis at (305) 664-2002.

 Fishing’s Triple Crown; Competition thick among the best flats fishermen

Described by many as “the Fla. Keys triple crown of fishing”, the points race of the Mercury Redbone series is already heating up.  All four of the points leaders from the recent Mercury SLAM in Key West, are slated to be competing at the Baybone.

Earlier this month (Sept. 6 – 8), Redbone newcomer Robert Collins, Naples earned 1000 points with his Mercury SLAM win. Four-time series champion Jim Bokor, Tavernier, follows with 750 points, Pat Dorsy, Miami, at 500 and Kal Blumberg, Ft. Lauderdale at 250.

Ellis mentioned several other top event anglers who could be factors in the points race including Mike Gallop, Naples, a teammate of  Collins, past series grand champions in Mitch Howell, Plantation and Frank Kulisky, Islamorada; Frank Delucas, Plantation, winner of the recent Mercury Redbone Little Palm Island tournament; John Riegor, Marathon and Joe Viar, Alexandria, Va. 

At stake as the Redbone series grand champion is an $18,000 gold Rolex watch, bragging rights to winning the finest flats tournament series the Keys has to offer, and a classy new blue blazer with the Redbone Series insignia on it.

“This series has attracted the ‘best of the best’ of the nation’s flats and sight fishermen and has been compared as sport fishing’s version of horse racing’s Triple Crown,” said Ellis. “It combines camaraderie of guide and angler plus a unique strategy of hunting the hundreds of miles of Keys waters in three distinctly different areas of the Keys for four species of fish (tarpon, redfish, permit and bonefish) with bonefish the common denominator at each of the three events.”

The 2002 points series race concludes with the third Florida Keys trilogy event at the 15th Mercury/Cheeca Redbone Celebrity Tournament in Islamorada, November 8 - 10 for redfish and bonefish. 

 Special one-day fly-fishing event precedes Mercury Baybone

The Eighth Annual Seamaster Superfly, a popular one-day, one-fly tournament, precedes the Baybone as fly-fishermen compete for combinations of bonefish and permit. 

Registration is at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, also at the Westin.   

Fishing is Friday, Oct. 4, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. A 5 p.m. awards ceremony follows at the Westin. 


Meet the celebs, silent auction and fishing boutique among Baybone events open to the public

The public is invited to meet the celebrity anglers from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the Westin following the on-the-water action. 

 “Clear Channel’s Sun 103 will be doing live radio remotes with the celebrities and anglers from the Westin both days,” said Ellis.

Also open to the public is the tournament’s silent auction at the Westin. Auction items can be viewed and bid upon from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday and 3 till the 5 p.m. bid closing on Saturday.     

            We have a lot of great items from local Keys businesses, art from the Redbone Galley, boutique items and much more to bid on,” said Susan Ellis. 

“The public is invited to join us for hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar Saturday afternoon at the dockside patio end of the grand ballroom,” she said. “We’ll also have raffle tickets for our two boating packages from Action Craft and Hell’s Bay Boat Works, both rigged with powerful Mercury Outboards.  It all benefits CF charities.”  

Platinum Plus sponsors of the Mercury Outboards title sponsored Redbone series include Rich Products, Robert-James Sales, Actioncraft Boats, the Boomer Esiason Foundation and Rolex.  Platinum sponsors include Cheeca Lodge, Seamaster Reels, American Specialties, Redbone Rods by Hurricane, Dowco, Hell’s Bay Boat Works and Greenfield Automotive.



 Oct. 3, Thursday

7:00 p.m.            Seamaster Superfly Tournament registration and kick-off dinner,

                                    Salon B Westin Beach Resort.

Oct. 4, Friday

            7:00 a.m.            Continental Breakfast, Seamaster Superfly participants.

                                    “Treetops”, Westin Beach Resort

            7:30 a.m.     Boats depart for Seamaster Superfly  and GO FISHING.

         2-6:00 p.m.            Baybone Registration, Angler/Guide/Celebrity.                                                                                Salon C, Westin Beach Resort

         2-6:00 p.m.     Silent Auction, Salon C, Westin Beach Resort

            3:00 p.m.     Lines out of the water - Seamaster Superfly Tournament.

            5:00 p.m.     *** GUIDES for Seamaster Superfly Tournament must 

                                    check-in with Scorekeeper prior to 5:00 p.m. *** 

6:00 p.m.            Cocktail Reception -Prefunction Terrace,Westin Beach Resort

            6:30 p.m.            Guides and Anglers Rules Meeting , Ballroom

            7:00 p.m.             MERCURY MARINE/ACTION CRAFT KICK-OFF DINNER

            8:00 p.m.     Live Auction.

 Oct. 5, Saturday            *** GUIDES must check-in with Scorekeeper prior to departure

6:30 a.m.Continental Breakfast for Anglers, Guides, Celebrities and Guest.

                                    “Treetops” Westin Beach Resort.

            7:30 a.m.            Blessing of the Fleet, Boats depart and GO FISHING.

                                    Westin Beach Resort Dock.

        3-5:00 p.m.            Dockside Party, meet the celebrities at Salon B, Westin                                               Beach Resort.

            5:00 p.m.            SILENT AUCTION CLOSES!

5:00 p.m.            ***GUIDES must check-in with Scorekeeper prior to 5:00 p.m.***

Oct. 6, Sunday            ***GUIDES must check-in with Scorekeeper prior to departure

6:30 a.m.            GUIDES SIGN IN

Continental Breakfast. “Treetops”, Westin Beach Resort.

            7:00 a.m.     Boats may depart and GO FISHING.

            3:00 p.m.     Lines out of the water.       

3-5:00 p.m.            Celebrity Dockside Party. Salon B, Westin Beach Resort ***GUIDES must check-in with Scorekeeper prior to 5:00 p.m.***

7:00 p.m.            Cocktail Party Salon C, Westin Beach Resort. 

8:00 p.m.            Awards Banquet,  Ballroom,Westin Beach Resort.