Andy Mill, of Boca Raton, Fla., was named grand champion of the 2006 Don Hawley Invitational Tarpon Tournament, capping his five-year quest for the title.
Mill, who has won five Golden Fly and five Gold Cup tarpon tournaments, said, “This feels really good. Competing against this caliber of anglers and guides, guys I really respect and admire, makes the win especially satisfying to me.”
Mill becomes just the second angler to win all three of the prestigious fly-fishing tarpon tournaments in Islamorada — the Golden Fly, Don Hawley and Gold Cup invitationals. Legendary big game fly-angler Billy Pate won all three tournaments, his last was the 1996 Golden Fly. No one has won all three tournaments in a single year.
Guided by Captain Paul Tejera of Islamorada, Mill set a new tournament record with 19 releases over the five days of fishing, beating the previous record of 18. Mill’s record catch was set after scoring no points on the first day of fishing.
Along with grand champion honors, Mill is to receive an invitation to compete in the Rolex/IGFA Inshore Championship, to be held in Islamorada during the summer of 2007.
Mill was also part of the team champions, the Feather Merchants, joining Doug Behrman of Tallahassee and Peter Reddin of Ellison Bay, WI. The team released 46 tarpon.
Behrman won the 12-pound tippet division, releasing 16 fish while guided by Captain Joe Rodriguez of Miami.
The 16-pound tippet division was won by Dan Benton of Darien, CT. Captain Mike Ehlers of Islamorada guided Benton to eight releases.
Thane Morgan of Amarillo, TX was named best new angler. Julian Robertson, another first-time angler, came from New Zealand to land the best other fish — a triple tail on fly.Eighteen anglers released a total of 128 tarpon, 97 in the 12-pound tippet class and 31 in the 16-pound class.