Sharon Sydnor outfishes the men in the
Mercury Redbone@Large Little Palm Island Grand Slam
First lady grand champion in eight year history of CF fundraising event
LITTLE PALM ISLAND, In the Fla. Keys, - Most of the top anglers and past winners were there; Jim Bokor, Dan Zicari, Adolpus Busch, Wade Boggs and Larry Sydnor.
But it was Larry's wife Sharon who put the men in the back of the boat by winning the Eighth Annual Mercury Outboards Redbone@Large Little Palm Island Grand Slam.
Sharon Sydnor, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., caught-photographed-and-released three tarpon and a permit the first day. Guided by Capt. Tom Kokenge, Big Pine Key, she then added points the second day with three more tarpon and completed her grand slam with a bonefish for a two-day total of 800 points.
"She was in the zone," said her proud husband. The Sydnor's are both long time supporters, sponsors (A-All Right Signs) and anglers of the charity series for cystic fibrosis research.
"She was awesome on the bow, making some great casts. She never missed a tarpon. I lost three tarpon, and had a permit eaten by a shark. But no matter where she put her bait she got the fish that counted. We were helped getting onto some flats by tilting the Mercury 90 hp up on the Hells' Bay Marquesa and poling the boat through the skinny waters," said Larry who won the pro-celeb title with a tarpon and bonefish.
Sharon said, "I didn't feel the pressure I had last year when I caught 12 tarpon, seven of them in an hour and half. This year all the species in the slam were spaced out…it just came together. When I received the award the men and the guides all were very gracious coming up and congratulating me. It was a special two days."
After the first day of competition most of the eyes were on Zicari, of Vero Beach, Fla. who had a grand slam catching a bonefish, tarpon and permit. On day two, guided by Capt. Mark Krowka, of Davie, Fla., Zicari was able to catch two more tarpon and two bonefish but no permit. At 700 points he was just 100 points shy of catching Sharon.
Another favored angler was Jim Bokor, Tavernier, who despite zeroing the first day, made a big comeback the second catching three tarpon and four bonefish. He was guided by Capt. Tim Hoover, Duck Key, Fla. He also had 700 points.
Bokor, Zicari, Larry Sydnor and Busch of St. Louis Mo., are all former champions or top finishers of past Redbone events.
Another former winner in the celebrity divisions of past Redbone tournaments was Wade Boggs, Tampa, Fla. Capt. Steve Lamp, Big Pine Key guided the former major league baseball slugger to a lone tarpon on artificial bait helping him win the spin/plug division title based on time against three other anglers catching fish on spin.
During the two days all of the anglers were confronted with winds, rain and lightning --- what was developing into Tropical Storm Erika passing through.
Brower Moffitt, Palm Beach, Fla., was resilient in winning the fly division champion title despite the blowing winds from the tropical wave. Moffitt caught three tarpon on fly. The gold coast angler, guided by Capt. Bruce Stagg, Islamorada, Fla. also caught one bonefish on bait; the tournament's biggest at 25".
Father and son Tom and Andy Sommer, O'Fallon, Mo., were the events team grand champions. Guided by Capt. Tim Carlile, Sugarloaf Shores, Fla., Tom also caught the largest permit (27"), and the largest tarpon (45") while Andy had the most permit releases with two.
The couple's grand champion anglers were Bill and Colleen Cullen, Miami, catching five bonefish between them. They were guided by Capt. Kenny Knudsen, Islamorada, Fla.
Beautiful paintings, etchings and sculptures were awarded to the winners in the tournament.
The event like most in the Mercury Redbone series, is a Rolex/IGFA Inshore Championship Tournament qualifier. Ms. Sydnor will be invited to compete against more than 50 other qualifying champions at the 2004 Rolex/IGFA ICT, a world-class event.
The tournament was sponsored by Mercury Marine, Little Palm Island, Robert James Sales, Rich Products and the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.
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 tournament founder Capt. Gary 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 eight years ago, someone has always caught a grand slam of fish each year at these events."
Ellis, reported that among the 14 boats at Little Palm, 58 fish were caught and released, among them 22 bonefish, 31 tarpon and five permit.
"The fishery here continues to grow as the premier destination and the crown jewel of fishing in the lower Keys," said Ellis.
Helped by such celebrities as sports hall of famers Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Curt Gowdy and John Havlicek, as well as future hall of famer Boggs, the Redbone (REDfish and BONEfish) began as a small local tournament in 1988. It was a fundraiser to help CF patients like Gary and Susan Ellis' young daughter Nicole. Mercury Outboards joined as a title sponsor 13 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 16-year old Mercury Redbone series of events have spring boarded national and international attention raising over $5 million dollars to find a cure for CF.
Using the Ellis' tournament "footprint" from the Florida Keys events, nearly 20 CF Foundation chapters around the country are including a Mercury Outboards Redbone celebrity fishing tournaments in their annual special events. There are now 26 tournaments internationally.
Upcoming Keys events:
The Little Palm Island grand slam was a prelude to the start of next months Mercury Redbone fall trilogy series point's race
The final three Florida Keys events of the season include the 14th Annual Mercury S.L.A.M. Celebrity Tournament, Sept. 5-7 in Key West (for bonefish, tarpon and permit).
The series continues at Key Largo with the 13th Mercury Baybone Celebrity Tournament, Oct. 3-5 (bonefish and permit) and then finale with the 16th Mercury/Cheeca Redbone Celebrity Tournament in Islamorada, December 5-7 for redfish and bonefish. The grand champion angler of each tournament wins a stainless steel Rolex timepiece; the series winner receives a gold Rolex.
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.
Eight Annual Mercury Outboards Redbone@Large
Little Palm Island Grand Slam; Aug. 12-14
Grand Champion Angler: Sharon Sydnor, Ft. Lauderdale, guided by Capt. Tom Kokenge, Big Pine Key, Fla.
Couples Grand Champion Anglers: Bill and Colleen Cullen, Miami, guided by Capt. Kenny Knudsen, Islamorada, Fla.
Team Grand Champions: Tom and Andy Sommer, O'Fallon, Mo., guided by Capt. Tim Carlile, Sugarloaf Shores, Fla.
Pro Celebity Angler: Larry Sydnor, Ft. Lauderdale, guided by Capt. Tom Kokenge
First Runner-up Angler: Dan Zicari, Vero Beach, Fla., guided by Capt. Mark Krowka, Davie, Fla.
Spin/Plug division champion: Wade Boggs, Tampa, Fla., guided by Capt. Steve Lamp, Big Pine Key
Fly division champion: Brower Moffitt, Palm Beach, Fla., guided by Capt. Bruce Stagg, Islamorada, Fla.
Largest Bonefish: Brower Moffitt, (25"), guided by Capt. Bruce Stagg
Largest Permit: Tom Sommer, (27"), guided by Capt. Tim Carlile
Largest Tarpon: Tom Sommer, (45"), guided by Capt. Tim Carlile
Most bonefish releases: Jim Bokor (4), guided by Capt. Tim Hoover
Most permit releases: Andy Sommer (2), guided by Capt. Tim Carlile
Most tarpon releases: Sharon Sydnor (6), guided by Capt. Tom Kokenge
Top Rod angler day one: Dan Zicari, a slam the first day, guided by Capt. Mark Krowka
Top Rod angler day two: Jim Bokor, caught three tarpon, four bonefish, guided by Capt. Tim Hoover
Total Boats: 14
Total Fish Caught and Released 58 --- (22 bonefish, 31 tarpon and five permit)