They are among the top fly and light tackle "sight-casting" champion anglers from as far away as Australia who will converge on the Florida Keys island chain from July 7-9, competing in the ninth annual Florida Keys Outfitters/IGFA Inshore World Championship in Islamorada.
It's an event described by anglers and the media as the "super bowl" of inshore fishing.
Selected from a variety of 36 qualifying tournaments held in 2008 across the U.S., the Bahamas and Australia, a field of 32 top anglers 16 in fly and 16 in light tackle quickly responded to the invitations of managing partner Florida Keys Outfitters to compete in this three day all-release championship.
From a drawing the champion qualifiers will be paired with a premier Keys guide fishing as a team for tarpon, bonefish, permit, snook and redfish in the fly and light tackle divisions.
A grand champion will be crowned in each division.
Three-time winner and current defending champion Robert Collins of Naples and Islamorada, will be focusing his skills for the first time solely casting fly.
The field of competitors includes 26 men and five women from nine U.S. states. Also among them will be Australian Peter Politis winner of last year's Northern Territory's Barramundi Classic.
"I believe anglers and guides have wholeheartedly embraced our new light tackle/fly tackle concept and look forward to a really fun and competitive event," said tournament director Sandy Moret, owner of Florida Keys Outfitters. " In our first year, all of the IGFA Staff, tournament directors, sponsors, anglers and guides have been a great help putting things together.
"This tournament promises to be one of the most outstanding competitions of the year," he added. "And looking ahead to next year we'll have more international competitors."
Fishing and daily scorekeeping takes place from the World Wide Sportsman's Bayside Marina with The Islander Resort serving as the event's headquarters. Both are located near mile marker 82.
The IGFA remains the inshore championships' sole nonprofit benefactor. A fundraiser and auction for the IGFA will be held at the event.
For the first time the championship will be partnering with ESPN Outdoors and its televised Saltwater Series and be presented on other ESPN Outdoors multimedia platforms. Daily tournament coverage will appear on ESPNOutdoors.com and on IGFA.org among others.
For more information on the FKO/IGFA Inshore World Championship and the event's qualifying tournaments contact Sandy Moret 305-664-5423, or via e-mail at email@example.com or visit the web site at inshoreworldchampionships.com.