Floridian Brower Moffitt has a long history of tournament fishing success, and he added to his legacy by capturing Grand Champion Angler honors at the Exuma Bonefish Classic May 16-19. He was joined in the winner’s circle by Grand Champion Lady Angler Marguerite Ireland of Mims, Fla.
Moffitt, of Palm Beach, Fla., caught and released eight bonefish on fly. Ireland snared four bonefish on bait and three bonefish on artificial lures.
The Classic was the third stop on the Bahamas Celebrity Bonefish Series and is one of approximately 30 Redbone Celebrity tournaments held each year, with all proceeds benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF). Redbone events raised $1,568,000 in 2007 alone and have raised more than $11 million in 20 years. Mercury Marine is the official outboard engine of the Redbone events.
First Runner-up Angler honors went to Rick Stokes of Placida, Fla., who was also named General Division Champion. Ireland teamed with Charles Ireland to take the Team Champion Anglers prize. Moffitt was the Fly Division Champion and also won the prize for Largest Bonefish. Artificial Spin Division Champion was Barbara Huffman.
All fish were required to be 18 inches in overall length to qualify as a legal release. The tournament included three tackle divisions: Artificial, spin/plug and fly tackle. Eight anglers participated in the event, catching and releasing 47 bonefish.
Financial support from the Redbone events has allowed tournaments such as the Exuma Bonefish Classic help CFF make tremendous progress in the field of cystic fibrosis (CF) research and care. The median age of survival for a person with CF has improved from early childhood in the 1950s to 36.8 years today. Cystic fibrosis continues to be a critical health matter, however, as most individuals with the disease must battle chronic lung infections for their entire lives. At least one person dies from CF each day.
CFF’s mission is to assure the means to cure and control the genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems of approximately 30,000 children and young adults in the United States.
Redbone founder Gary Ellis and his wife, Susan, have supported CFF for two decades, not only because of its innovative and effective research efforts, but also for a very personal reason: Their daughter, Nicole, was diagnosed with CF as an infant in the mid-1980s. Nicole is now thriving in the corporate world of international marketing, and she has witnessed first hand the advances made in the treatment of the disease.
The seeds for the Exuma Bonefish Classic were planted in 1988, when anglers, fishing guides and sports celebrities organized a tournament in the Florida Keys village of Islamorada. The ground rules were simple – to win, the angler must catch and release at least one redfish and one bonefish.
The inaugural Islamorada event was a huge success, and spawned the “redbone” moniker. The current format of the individual tournaments includes freshwater, offshore and flats fishing.
The environments in which the Redbone events take place have played a critical role in their success. The Florida Keys, for instance, contain miles of clear flats with acres of turtle grass and marl, features that create a welcoming habitat and a diverse fishery that includes bonefish, tarpon, permit, redfish and snook. Tournaments are also held in such diverse locations as Massachusetts, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Costa Rica, Pennsylvania, Ohio, the Bahamas, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Louisiana.
Mercury Marine began its support of the Series in 1992, and for the two decades of Redbone’s existence, the collection of events has drawn the attention and support of such big-name celebrities as the late baseball great Ted Williams, baseball stars Mike Schmidt and Wade Boggs, football legends Boomer Esiason, Jim Kelly and Ken Stabler, and the late broadcasting icon Curt Gowdy.
For more information on the Bahamas Celebrity Bonefish Series and/or the Exuma Bonefish Classic, visit online at www.redbone.org