At first, when I heard “casting contest,” I wondered if reality TV decided to come to the Florida Keys. After so much time down here, I truly believe a show about life on the souther tip of Florida can top the nielsen ratings. But just steps away from Islamorada, the “Sports Fishing Capital of the World,” casting clearly means using a fishing rod.
Based in the Upper Keys , I asked the “twitter-verse” for advice for sunset locations further south in Marathon. Christy Johnson (@MarathonFlaKeys) responded and told me to stop by Fat Buoyz Bar and Grill for happy hour and meet Captain Spider for his casting contest. Sounded like a plan.
In the quaint marina located at the base of the 7 mile bridge (mm47), Fat Buoyz provides the grub, entertainment, and patrons you’d expect from the name. A biker bar, with “Biker Mondays” creates a vintage keys experience for any day of the week.
I first arrived when the fishing charters just returned from the day at sea. Captain and crew cleaned up the boats and also the day’s catch – Spanish Mackerel. And as the Pelicans positioned for the filet scraps, I positioned myself at a table to order the first round.
Nearly done with my first $3 draft, I spotted a man dressed in a Spiderman sweatshirt. Must be Captain Spider. I introduced myself, learned the details of the casting contest, and signed up to compete.
Captain Spider hosts contests multiple times each month at different locations. Each Tuesday night the proceed benefit the Forgotten Soldiers Outreach with Thursday’s alternating between the marathon high school ‘7-mile marina scholarship fund,’ and other community projects.
The contest rules are simple; 3 practice casts; 5 casts for score. Each contestant attempts to land the lure in set of styrofoam targets floating in the water. With seven rings at sea, each accounts for a different point total – 50 for the center ring, 40 for either of the outside rings, 20 for larger rings, 10 for the largest rings. The one with most points scored after five casts- your winner. (Ties go to an intense one cast sudden death shoot out).
The champion takes home top honors and a prize (donated), but essentially all participants seem to receive a consolation for their effort.
I can blame the wind, right-handed rods, (yes I am a southpaw) or casting early at sunset (challenging light) for my results. An endless list of excuses really, but the reality – I lost.
Yet, the good news is these charities do not. My donation ($5 entry fee) will help create a scholarship for someone who wants a career on the water. Not to mention the evening certainly put a smile on my face. Hey, next time I’ll do better.
Stay Adventurous, Craig