ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys – Naples, Fla., angler Troy Pruitt released four redfish and six bonefish to capture grand champion honors at the two-day Mercury Cheeca Redbone tournament that ended Sunday in the Florida Keys.
Pruitt and teammate Jeff Ball, also of Naples, also took the team championship while fishing with Captain Rich Tudor.
The Naples team released a total of 10 bonefish and 8 reds, tallying 8 “Redbones” (combinations of one bonefish and one redfish) for bonus points.
“The whole experience was just awesome,” said Pruitt. “It’s my first Redbone and it’s not going to be my last. I just enjoyed every aspect of it.”
Tudor, one of Islamorada’s top tournament guides, lauded his anglers.
“These guys are studs,” he said. “All it took was one warm-up fish and they were on the mark. Bam. Bam, bam, they’d make the perfect cast every time.”
The celebrity grand championship was awarded to former MLB first baseman Mile Stanley with 22 redfish releases. Stanley fished with Captain Chris Jones.
Stanley had been on Redbone-winning teams previously but had never won an individual title.
“Took a while, but feels great,” said Stanley, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native.
Grand champion lady angler was Linda Denkert, fishing with her husband Captain Dave Denkert, both of Tavernier, Fla.
The Redbone, a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis research and treatment, attracted 128 anglers, according to tournament director Gary Ellis. Anglers released 37 bonefish and 243 redfish from 63 registered boats.
Tavernier angler Jim Bokor won the 2005 trilogy title, an award for the most points garnered during three 2005 Keys-based tournaments including the Mercury Southernmost Light-Tackle Anglers Masters, the Mercury Baybone tournament and the Redbone. Bokor also won the trilogy team title with Robert Collins of Naples.