As we approach the 12-year mark since we lost the legendary Jose, we’re finally gearing up for our first tournament. Now, folks have been asking why we haven’t jumped into the tournament scene sooner and why a shark tournament, of all things.
To address the first question, let me tell you, organizing a tournament isn’t like casting a line – it takes a load of effort. The Jose Wejebe Memorial Foundation didn’t have the crew or the moolah to pull it off earlier. Plus, Jose wasn’t exactly a tournament fanatic. He used to say, “It sucks the fun out of fishing.” So, I wasn’t about to throw together a half-baked tournament just for the sake of it. Everything we do at JWF ties back to Jose in some fishy way. There’s always a tale that involves him, steering our projects and events. While Jose did dabble in tournaments early on, he eventually hung up his tournament hat because, well, you heard it – “It sucks the fun out of fishing.”
There was this one tournament, though, that had Jose written all over it. It was a TV spectacle called The Madfin – a shark fishing fiesta conceptualized and produced by the man himself. Anglers from Spanish Fly, the Keys as the battleground, top notch videography from above and below, and extra points for removing hooks for a safe shark release.
Now, we at JWF aren’t playing referee in the fishing rulebook, but one thing’s clear: the tax man’s knocking on the ocean door more frequently than ever. Sharks are the talk of the town lately, especially along the USA coast. So, I delved into the stock assessment research on Florida sharks, and let me tell you, it’s like finding a needle in a tackle box. Decades-old info on a handful of shark species – that’s all I reeled in. With tensions rising between anglers and sharks, I thought, “Why not a catch-and-release shark tournament?” A way to gather data and tackle the information gap on shark populations in Florida waters. Let’s put some pressure on them.
You know how in some tournaments, sharks snatch your catch right off the line? Well, what’s going to munch on a shark, aside from another shark? Specifically, a bull shark. I tossed around the idea of tagging and collaborating with research groups, but that’s not in the cards this year. Jose always went all in, and this foundation follows suit. With our first year biting at the bait, I didn’t want to overload our team.
So, for now, let’s make shark fishing fun, gather some data, and reel in some cash to make fishing dreams come true.
Mark your calendars for April 5-7, ’cause we’re hosting the First Annual Spanish Fly Shark Tournament. The only tournament in the Keys with inshore and offshore divisions, and the only one where inshore guides can reel in cash prizes in the Calcutta! Bull sharks only, and its simply a numbers game. Most bull sharks caught in each division wins!
Anglers will be required to submit their catches using the fishing chaos app, and not to worry a full tutorial on how to do that will be up soon, and it will be shown at the Captains Meeting. All Captains or Boat Owners are required to have their HMS Permit, with their shark endorsement. https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/ Save a couple bucks and pre-register today at https://keywestsharktournament.com/
Let’s make waves!