Fishing & Boating News

2017 Redbone Trilogy canceled in Florida Keys

Famed fishing tournaments for CF research takes long lasting hit from Hurricane Irma

by: Pete Johnson, Johnson Communications

1998 Nicole & Gary
(Oct 18, 2017 - Florida Keys)

Famed fishing tournaments for CF research takes long lasting hit from Hurricane Irma.
 The entire 2017 Robert James Sales Redbone Trilogy of fall fishing tournaments in the Keys has been canceled.

After being battered by Hurricane Irma in September, the entire island chain has been in recovery mode ever since, as the category 4 storm caused extensive damage from winds, rain, tidal and storm surge flooding. 

    “It breaks our hearts,” said Susan Ellis, the executive director of the Redbone which raises funds for medical research for cystic fibrosis (CF). “We had hoped that we could at least save the November’s Redbone by moving it into early next year. But it looks like we will be lucky if our host resort The Islander is up and running in time for the RJS Sunrise/Sunset Tarpon Tourney in April.”

    “Our titled sponsors felt it was best to give it up in its entirety for this year and move on.  

    “This is going to be a huge financial blow to Redbone. Most of the advance tournament expenses (trophies, shirts, hats, etc.) have been paid. However we were unable to hold our auctions which are our bread and butter and would have helped to offset those expenses. It’s our hope that most of 2017 anglers will be generous enough to allow us to roll over their entries so we won't have to reimburse them. We’ve had to cancel events before. But never in our 28 year history have we been hit so hard.”

One bright spot to finish the year; the 2017 Deep Water Cay Tournament in Grand Bahamas is still on for Nov. 17-19. Team entries are available.

The Redbone announced the dates for the 2018 Keys tournament schedule:
Robert James Sales Sunrise/Sunset Tarpon Tourney, Islamorada, April 20-22.
Robert James Sales SLAM, Key West Sept. 7-9
Robert James Sales Baybone, Islamorada Oct. 5-7
Robert James Sales Redbone, Islamorada, Nov. 2-4

The Redbone (REDfish and BONEfish), began in 1988 by Capt. Gary Ellis, a Keys backcountry guide, and his wife Susan, four years after the birth of their daughter Nicole. Their lives had taken a dramatic turn after learning Nicole suffered from CF, a genetic disease that affects the lungs and other organs. They were told with some care and extensive medicines, she might live to her early teens. 

Gary was supported by one of his fishing clients, baseball hall of fame legend Ted Williams, to build a CF charity event in Islamorada, around what he knew best – fishing.  Their first effort raised $16,000 for CF. With help from guides, celebrities, anglers and sponsors, those watery Florida Keys roots took hold and the Redbone grew with more events, momentum and global fame through media exposure while raising CF awareness and research efforts. 
The near three decades-old tournament series has raised over $23 million, making a huge difference helping medical scientists extend the lives of over 30,000 CF patients like Nicole, across the U.S. Since 2003 tournaments bearing the Redbone name, including their cooperative efforts with the CF Foundation, have netted over $1 million a year “To Catch the Cure.”  Nicole is now 33-years-old and an international marketing executive for Rich Products. 

The Redbone holds nearly 20 tournaments internationally with the Keys trilogy among the biggest. Their phone number is 305-664-2002.
The Redbone Gallery at MM 81.5, one of the nation’s top fishing art galleries, is open Mon-Fri. 10-4 and on Sat. 10-2. Donations can be made on the Redbone website .