Month: June 2022
Grand Champions: Captain Andy Thompson and L. Mark Weeks
Angler L. Mark Weeks and Guide Andy Thompson win 48th Annual Don Hawley Invitational Fly
Fishing Tarpon Tournament
48th Annual Don Hawley Invitational Fly Fishing Tarpon Tournament
June 6-10, 2022
Islamorada, Florida Keys
The 48th Annual Don Hawley Invitational Fly Fishing Tarpon Tournament, one of the “Big
Three” tarpon fly tournaments, had relatively consistent daily fishing compared to some previous
years and pulled in a total of 119 releases for the week. Aside from two afternoons of dodging
storms, the Tournament lucked out and had a great week after some major tropical winds
threatened the area just days beforehand. The best fishing took place on the first and last days of
tournament, bringing in 36 and 30 fish, respectively. Afternoon lightening lowered the releases
to 14 on Day 2, then 18 fish on Day 3, and 21 releases on Day 4. Ocean tarpon fishing proved
more difficult than the backcountry during the week. Locating where the fish are is one of the
biggest talents that Guides bring to the team. The Don Hawley attracts some of the best fly
anglers from around the world who are all competitive and passionate about catching the silver
The Don Hawley was the first tarpon tournament to stop the killing, in 1987, of tarpon. Anglers
receive 1000 points for each fish measuring four feet or more caught and released on 12lb tippet,
in accordance with International Game Fish Association rules. The Grand Champion title is
awarded to the Angler and Guide with the most fish caught and released during the five-day
competition. In addition to other awards, Grand Champion names will be added to the Perpetual
Trophy showcasing the names of all past champion anglers and guides. The perpetual trophy
resides at Florida Keys Outfitters in Islamorada, Florida.
Angler L. Mark Weeks from Tokyo, Japan and Nampa, ID and his Guide, Captain Andy
Thompson, won the Grand Championship with 18 releases. This marks the second time the team
will have their names added to the historical perpetual trophy. Weeks said, “Five days feels like
a lifetime in these tournaments, particularly when you’re getting chased off the water by
thunderstorms and are neck-in-neck with several of the best teams to the bitter end.
Lucky for us, Andy knows how to find fish and is a wonderful coach when it comes to
Coming in second place was Angler Evan Carruthers from Maple Plain, MN and his Guide,
Capt. Greg Dini with 16 releases. They earned second place just last year, but this year added an
additional 6 releases to their results from the previous year. Third place was won by Angler Rich
Garcia from Islamorada, FL and his Guide, Luis Cortes with 15 releases. Scott Christian and his
Guide, Chad Huff, earned the High Point Day award with a whopping 8 releases on the first day.
Subsequent days 2, 3, and 4 only had 4 releases each day as the daily high point, earned by L.
Mark Weeks and Capt. Andy Thompson, Julian Robertson and Capt. Rob Fordyce, and Rich
Garcia and Capt. Luis Cortes, in that order. The final day brought 5 releases as the high point
day, won by L. Mark Weeks and Capt. Andy Thompson by time.
The Annual Don Hawley Invitational Tarpon Fly Fishing Tournament began in 1974. Proceeds
benefit the Guides Trust Foundation, which assists Florida Keys Guides in times of hardship and
provides scholarships to Florida Keys students interested in the marine sciences. Next year’s
tournament will take place June 5-9, 2023. For more information on the Don Hawley Tarpon
Tournament, the Guides Trust Foundation, our esteemed sponsors, or to apply for the
tournament’s waiting list, please visit: www.guidestrustfoundation.org
Governor DeSantis Vetoes SB 2508, Thanks To YOUR Efforts!
Today, Governor DeSantis proved that he heard the voices of thousands of fishing guides, boat captains, business owners, and concerned citizens throughout Florida by vetoing Senate Bill 2508. In early February, the Florida Senate filed SB 2508 late on a Friday night as a budget conforming bill intending to quietly fast track major policy changes that would write into law the preferential treatment of the industrial sugar industry. This sneak attack undermined the proper legislative processes and short-circuited the opportunity for public input. Captains For Clean Water organized and responded with massive public awareness campaigns and public action opportunities, leading the groundswell of opposition against the bill. Over 50,000 Captains For Clean Water supporters like YOU expressed opposition through 156,000 emails to legislators, 1,500 phone calls to legislators, 50,000 petition signatures, and multiple trips to the State Capitol, forcing the Florida Senate to amend the bill twice removing most of the harmful Everglades language and the proviso language that held hostage $300+ million in state Everglades funding contingent on passage of 2508. Dozens of fishing guides canceled booked charters and lost thousands of dollars of income to travel to Tallahassee to publicly oppose Senate Bill 2508. At the first committee hearing for the bill, Senate leaders used intimidation tactics claiming guides had been misinformed, misled, and did not understand the nuances of legislative language. When we produced videos and social content to inform the public about the corruption unfolding, proponents of the bill attempted to censor us, threatening legal action. They deployed slander campaigns against Captains For Clean Water and targeted Floridians with misinformation materials. Time and again, they tried to silence our voices and tip the scales against us. This only made us stronger. Together with our supporters, we kept going and we fought harder. Capt. C.A. Richardson said it best in his remarks to the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee, “They don’t quit when they’re tired. They quit when they’re done…and they are not done.” To Capt. Richardson and all of you, your efforts have absolutely paid off. Today, we are “done” with the SB 2508 battle. Thank you to our supporters—every fishing guide, boat captain, outdoor brand, business owner and citizen that signed our petition, contacted lawmakers, traveled to Tallahassee and came together to urge Governor DeSantis to oppose Senate Bill 2508. You were the groundswell that finally swamped Senate Bill 2508.
Capt. Daniel Andrews & Capt. Chris Wittman