Five fishing stars inducted into IGFA Hall of Fame

Irma’s wrath still present at Everglades park

More IGFA news: The organization inducted five all-time fishing stars into its Hall of Fame on Oct. 28. Their contributions to the sport deserve more space individually than we can give them collectively, so we’ll just say a bit about each: Erik Prince, NOAA marine fisheries scientist, led the research that led to circle hooks being required in billfish tournaments — and that made live releases possible, which is why billfish are so plentiful now. He was the Billfish Foundation’s first scientist and earned the IGFA Conservation Award last year.

Rick Clunn has won the Bassmaster Classic four times; only Kevin VanDam has matched that. He’s among the all-time leaders in bass tournament money winnings, is in the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and was voted greatest bass angler of all time in 2005.

Larry Dahlberg is best known in fly fishing for his Dahlberg Diver fly, the model for uncountable successful knockoff designs. You know the blankthrough offset baitcasting rod grip? His idea. So were Flashabou glitter material and other innovations. He’s also in the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

Peter Fithian founded the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament in 1959 and still runs it. The contest is where the Great Marlin Race began in 2009, tracking Pacific marlin on their long migratory journeys. He also founded the Pacific Ocean Research Foundation in 1975 to learn more about Pacific blue marlin.

Mike Levitt, a former chairman of the IGFA, led efforts to build IGFA headquarters in Dania Beach and his company led its financing and development. He helped develop the prototype design for big offshore fishing yachts and he holds some stunning catch records — the 12 and 16-pound line test records for black marlin and the 4, 8 and 12-pound test records for white marlin.

Open after Irma

Biscayne National Park has been reopened after its closure for Hurricane Irma and Everglades National Park is partially reopened with its new access corridors and other navigation changes nearing completion in Florida Bay.

Boca Chita, Elliott and Adams Keys all are accessible in Biscayne, but the park staff warns boaters to keep a special lookout for marine debris. That could be found almost anywhere, but it’s most likely to be found at high speed when you’re not looking for it.

Superintendent Margaret Goodro cautioned that ground surfaces are uneven, and advised visitors to wear closed-toe shoes instead of sandals.

Things are more complicated in much larger Everglades where derelict boat wrecks still make navigational hazards and damaged land features require major work. In late October, the road from Homestead and Florida City to the Flamingo outpost was opened — but still being closed at 7 p.m. Between Flamingo and West Lake.

Store, dock and restroom facilities at Flamingo were still closed, but the facilities at West Lake were working.

As of Oct. 20, visitors could enter the gate south of Florida City as early as 4:30 a.m. but drive only as far as West Lake until 7 a.m. Then they could drive on to Flamingo, where the launch ramps are usable.

Land facilities are closed, too, at Everglades City where the small visitor center was damaged by wind and a high storm surge.

Some of this information could change between writing deadlines and publication, so it’s necessary to keep tabs when planning a trip. The park is posting updates on its website,

That is also where boaters should look for the latest info on access corridor and channel rule changes for Florida Bay. Those include new zones where outboard engines may not be run but fishingdoers can pole their boats across shallow flats or use electric trolling motors.

From the home page, click the link to “New Access Corridor Markers & Signs.” When you get there, scroll down to the interactive map titled Florida Bay Boating Routes and Zones.
On that same page, you’ll find another link to the Florida Bay Map Book, also important.

Coming between pretty soon and eventually: publication of the new details on GPS and chart plotters, plus the enactment of a boater education and permit program.