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Rod & Gun News – 5/12/2023

By Christine Patton

Finishing Strong!

The Rod and Gun Club is ending its 2023 season in a strong position and with a feeling that the club is on a roll. Tom Davidson, Jr, Chair, says that there have been significant improvements in the facilities and programs supporting both shooting and fishing this year, as well as actions to the environmental area. The annual Night Out was a big success, honoring Nelson Sims for his leadership over the decades. The membership is at an all-time high and participation is growing. To top it off, there have been some remarkable achievements in the fishing arena, promising that there is plenty of action to be had off Ocean Reef shores for anglers of all sorts.

Card Sound Shooting Range

The shooting range saw a return to its pre-Covid activity levels, then an even greater increase in use. After making upgrades in the facilities, landscaping the areas and refurbishing traps, fresh ammo and targets were flying. One cause for the increased participation was the new instructor, Paulo Montealegre, who helped several members improve their prowess, and another cause was the enthusiastic participation of lady members, who now represent 50% of the attendees. Ladies take note — sporting clays is the new golf! Rod & Gun board member and Range Chairman Carmen Sferrazza is not resting on his laurels but is looking for ways to boost interest. Give him any suggestions you might have about friendly competitions or new targets.

Fish of the Month

In the interest of making all types of fishing a more communal activity, the R & G has organized a number of friendly fishing contests that run throughout the season. The monthly Fish of the Month contests award a $50 gift certificate to the angler weighing in the biggest specimen of that particular species. Winners this year were Fred Flippen and his 37-pound wahoo, Mike Rich with a 5.5-pound mutton snapper, and the books are still open as I write for the biggest tuna in April. May thru August, the game continues — see the list at MarineMax or go to the Rod & Gun website calendar  for all the details.

New Fishing Tournament Results

A new game for anglers was the Pick Any Three Days fishing tournament, which allowed boats to choose the day and style of fishing that they thought best, and to have the results of three days’ fishing so designated as their score. The contest started March 1 and went until April 15 and the results were very impressive! In the Offshore category, with 2,200 points, wasCarmen Sferrazza, with a total of 22 sailfish, including his incredible single day of 21 sails at 100 points per sailfish. 

In a similarly outstanding style, in the Flats category, Steve Woodsum was the winner. After a slow start with only one tarpon on day one, then three tarpon and two bonefish day two, on day three he had his epic day with 16 tarpon on fly! His three-day total of 6,600 points, all on fly at 300 points per.

Another tournament, not under the auspices of Rod & Gun Club but conducted by the Key Largo Anglers Club, is their annual Flats Tournament. A two-day flats-only tournament, it is the last of the season and timed to catch the tarpon migration as well as warm waters for the bonefish. This year’s winner was a familiar name — Steve Woodsum, with guide Jared Raskob — with a remarkable achievement as they swept the awards in winning first place Fly, and Spin, Top Captain and Top Boat, with not one but TWO Grand Slams (permit on crab, tarpon and bonefish on fly) on EACH of the two days. Hats off to this team and their impressive angling!

Changing Seasons

So the seasons at Ocean Reef may be changing, but from these results, we can say that the fishing, at least for some, is better than ever. It’s time to book your guide for next year, or risk being left out of the fun! Meanwhile, use your summer months to put those shooting and casting skills to use and come back to The Reef ready to participate in Rod & Gun Club activities in 2024.