Casting for Cats 2018


by Jennifer Stegura October 23, 2018

Casting for Cats 2018 is a wrap this year! I wanted to share our adventure with you all to hopefully encourage more lady anglers to participate next year, in this fun ladies only tournament. The tournament itself benefits a great cause and is run by a dedicated hardworking sister I truly admire.

Sharon Mahoney Ellenwood started Casting for Cats back in 2001, to help with the very large feral cat population in the Florida Keys, the organization has grown over the years and is now a proud partner with the Upper Keys Veterinary Hospital. The proceeds from the events provide much-needed equipment to the hospital, have paid for 5,000 spay/neuter surgeries to date, along with assisting thousands of animals in finding their forever home.

The tournament is a one day, ladies only, backcountry tournament with the grand prize being a Hell's Bay 18' Watermen. Friday night kicks off the event at the beautiful Islander Resort in Islamorada, Florida. 

Ladies come from all over the Keys and Florida for a fun Friday night of delicious food, silent auctions, casting challenges, and to hear the rules that will guide us the following morning, as we all look forward to competing for our chance at winning the Grand Prize.

Skinny Water Culture has been a supporter of Casting for Cats for many years now and we couldn't be prouder to not only participate but, have our Clearwater Raglan performance shirts be the official tournament shirt each year. Our very talented Chase Hancock providing the artwork seen below.

The shotgun start took place at 7:15 am at the Lorelei in Islamorada! The weather was perfectly calm and the water was beautifully clear. We were fishing from a Hell's Bay Marquesa that I would later find out turns on a dime...

This year my partner was first-time angler Ea Town. Our Captain Mike O'dell, a great friend, has guided me in this event for many years now, and I can't thank him enough for sharing his wisdom, his experience with me, always putting us on the fish, and encouraging me during times of frustration when the fish forget it's time to eat.

This year was no exception, my dear friend and partner Ea immediately checked off not only the first catch of the morning but, also her very first catch! It was such an exciting moment to see her cast perfectly, especially knowing she had been practicing for weeks ahead of time even taking a class at SWC Dealer Bill Jackson's. Landing that first catch, scoring 50 points using her Backbone Lure, and seeing her smile holding her jack, I knew she was hooked!

After catching multiple jacks and mangrove snapper, we switched up locations to target permit. The water was so clear we could see beautiful schools of silver, puff lips, and little steak knifes hanging out of the water.

With our blood pumping we casted into the first school, saying a little prayer we would get a bite, the stars seemed to align, a pig flew, and I landed my first ever PERMIT ya'll!!!

As I type this, two days after I still feel that rush & excitement as I screamed SHELLS YEAH! While I know it's not a beast of a permit guys, it was my first, an experience I will never forget! Much like my first tarpon and bonefish this little 20" permit will go down in my history as a very special day thanks to Captain Mike O'Dell. Who also gets credit for my first tarpon and bonefish catches! 

How could I follow this up? I couldn't but, we did get so many more opportunities to cast at multiple schools of these beautiful fish. They forgot it was time to eat and that happens, I guess that's why they call it fishing and not catching but, that was truly one hell of a day of fishing!

The lines-out time came up quicker than we wanted and we headed back into the Lorelei to turn in our score sheets and see how we stacked up against the other lady anglers.

The awards dinner back at the Islander Resort, we were greeted by sunkissed sisters smiling and sharing stories of their day, catching species on all of our bucket lists. It was such a special evening, seeing so many ladies winning beautiful awards hearing Sharon speak about the event, the volunteers that make it all happen, and knowing how this event supports so many fur babies in need, especially hearing about how Hurricane Irma that devastated the area had brought the community together so strongly in support of each other. It was truly touching.

While we didn't place, we will surely be back, and I hope reading the cliff notes of our day inspires some of you ladies out there that are anglers to come to this event next year, more specifically some of you ladies that would like to try but, maybe aren't feeling confident about how you would do, let my dear friend Ea be your inspiration to try because she had the time of her life and can't wait to go back!

Thanks for reading!

Jenn Stegura

Skinny Water Culture Family/Permit Catcher!

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