|Nabbing first place was Shake-N-Bake. George Bradley (middle) also took the honor of Top Guide of 2009.|
|Will Flack and Abby Marin take the top prize in the Amateur category.|
|Green Reef’s Mito Paz received the $10,000 check from Jim Oliver of the Tres Pescados Tournament Organizer.|
Tagging the fish before releasing them...
Belize’s first fly fishing tournament kicked off on Wednesday, August 19th at the Sunset Grill with the Caster’s Meeting Banquet. Over 60 team members, guides and guests gathered for the evening event to meet the competition, get a briefing on the rules, data census gathering requirements and other information necessary for a successful tournament. The Sunset Grill was standing room only for this tournament filled with firsts – the 1st Belize all catch-and-release event, the 1st Belize IGFA World Championship qualifying event, and the 1st Belize international fly fishing event.
With 14 Pro and Amateur teams registered and set for the competition, 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 20th arrived and the official start at the pier in Central Park was underway. All of the teams were required to be at the pier each of the three days of the event for the 7:00 a.m. start to receive their team’s daily ID number which was required to be in every fish photograph entered for the competition. By 4:00 p.m. all teams were required to check back at tournament headquarters in Central Park.
With sun, rain, lightning and wind, three days of fishing literally flew by. For the three straight days anglers continued to showcase their best efforts to catch the big ones and hopefully hit a grand slam. One-by-one the boats came in and on Saturday they eagerly awaited the closing Caster’s Banquet which was hosted by the San Pedro Lions Club. As the evening began and the sponsors, team members and guides found their seats, the ceremonies kicked off with the award to the top Pro team of the year. Taking the prize was Shake-N-Bake, also known as Thomas Reckling and Mark Elliot from Houston, Texas and guide George Bradley of San Pedro. Winning $3,500 as their share of the $10,000 payout, Thomas Reckling and Mark Elliot both agreed it was guide George Bradley that made it all happen. Along with winning this tournament, one of the duo that became known as Shake-N-Bake was invited to compete in the 2010 IGFA World Championship.
The “Top Guide of 2009” award was presented to Shake-n-Bake guide George Bradley. George was very gracious and pleased with the honor as the top fly fishing guide of the year.
The Fly Treks Team was honored with 2nd place in the Pro Division and team Pair-A-Docs took home the 3rd place trophy and check. Warren Parker and Jim Stelnicki both noted that if it hadn’t been for Tayo Verde, their guide, holding them up in the flats this last day, the 3rd place win would not have been possible.
In the Amateur Division, it was no surprise as Abby Marin and Will Flack were called up front to graciously accept the 1st Place trophy and check. The Cranky Cooks team of Alan Hill and Jeff Spiegel took home the 2nd place Amateur Division trophy and prize money. The Perpetual Tres Pescado Slam Tournament was presented to Mayor Elsa Paz to be displayed permanently in the San Pedro Town Council building for all of San Pedro to view. Each year the winners of both the Pro and Amateur divisions will be displayed along wit the Top Guide’s name.
After the final Casting Competition awards were given, the ceremonies moved on to the finale. One of the key areas of this event was to raise awareness and funds to help the protection, education, research and enforcement of the catch-and-release for the bonefish, tarpon and permit. All of the team members in the event helped gather census data for the tournament and many helped by taking fin clip samples to help with the identification of species via DNA. The funds raised from the many sponsors that supported this event allowed the tournament to hand over a $10,000 check to the head of Green Reef, Mr. Mito Paz. Green Reef’s plan to raise awareness will help the ongoing effort needed to protect the over $60 million dollar resource that these three fish represent to Belize.
Kudos to all participants and sponsors of this most educational and fun event. Look out for the next annual Tres Pescados Grand Slam Tournament!