Founded in 1965, the Key West Fishing Tournament is in its 48th year helping to promote sportfishing, conservation and tourism in the Key West area. Each year, more than 2,000 anglers receive “Outstanding Angling Achievement” citations to commemorate their catch or a “Sportsmanship Award” citation for released catches. Anglers may target 44 different species from bonefish to blue marlin in nine different line classes ranging from, 8 lb. test line to over 50 lb. test line as well as fly, spin and plug tackle. In an effort to promote conservation and the release of fish, he KWFT has established minimum weights in each line class to discourage the killing of smaller fish. There are also minimum lengths for some species for release citations. Along those lines, beginning in April, 1997, the tournament no longer recognized sailfish, marlin, spearfish or tarpon killed for entry in the KWFT .
Each year, the tournament begins in March with a “Kick-Off Tournament” providing trophies, cash prizes and fishing packages including hotel accommodations and fishing on charter boats, to winning anglers. The kick off is a two-day event based on a heaviest fish for 10 species and most releases for 5 species and it has become popular with both charter boats and local anglers. In order for their anglers to participate in the eight-month long event, charter captains are required to register their boats. Private boats and anglers, however, do not have to register in the KWFT .
To enter a catch or a release in the KWFT , the catch must be weighed at one of the 17 participating weigh stations. The catch must be certified by the official weigh master at that facility, and an entry form must be completed. The form must then be mailed to the KWFT or deposited in one of the citation entry drop boxes found at Garrison Bight City Marina, Oceanside Marina, Sunset Marina and Sugarloaf Marina, just put the entry in the drop box. While competing in one of the many two- or three- day fishing tournaments in the lower keys area, anglers may also enter their catches in the KWFT . Many such catches have placed as division leaders.
Kids can get in on the action, too. The KWFT tournament has a Junior Division, under 15-years old and a Pee Wee Division, for anglers under 10.
The KWFT concludes on November 30th and provides trophies to Division Leaders, Heaviest Fish of each species and Most Releases in 7 different species at our awards banquet. Trophies are also awarded to Master Anglers, in and out of county anglers, for Men, Women, Junior and Pee Wee Anglers. The KWFT annual awards ceremony will be held in January.
The KWFT is sponsored in part by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, Dream Catcher Charters, The DoubleTree® Grand Key Resort, The Key West Charter Boat Association, Shell Oil, Marriott Key West Beachside Hotel, Southernmost Hotel Resorts and BB&T.
For information contact Rob Harris, Tournament Director