ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys — Backcountry guides are to trade their push poles for fishing poles when they join fellow angling competitors at the annual Swamp Guides Ball backcountry fishing tournament. The challenge is set for Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27-28, at the Lorelei Restaurant and Cabana Bar, mile marker 82 in Islamorada.
The all-release tournament is open to all anglers and targets bonefish, redfish and snook. Anglers are not required to hire a professional guide to compete.
Event proceeds benefit the nonprofit Guides Trust Foundation, formerly known as the Don Hawley Foundation, which raises money to assist fishing guides who can’t work because of serious injury or illness.
Registration and a kick-off party with a silent auction are set for Friday, Jan. 27, beginning at 5 p.m. at the Lorelei beach. A rules meeting begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
Friday evening’s highlight is a silent auction featuring fishing and boating gear, artwork and guided fishing trips. The auction is open to anglers and landlubbers alike, whether they fish the tournament or not. The auction closes at 7 p.m.
Fishing is to begin at 7 a.m. Saturday, Jan 28. Lines-out is to be called at 3 p.m. and final check-in with the scorekeeper is set for 5 p.m.
Cocktails and a fundraising raffle are to begin Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Lorelei beach, to be followed by the awards “ball” at 6:30 p.m.
Entry fee is $200 per two-angler team and includes social tickets, T-shirts and goodie bags.