All American Backcountry Fishing Tournament

To Salute War Heroes

November 8-10, 2018
Cheeca Lodge & Spa
Islamorada, FL

Tournament inspired by 41st US President George Bush honored war heroes and benefitted Florida Keys Fishing Guides in Need

Cheeca Lodge & Spa announced results of its 6th Annual All American Backcountry Fishing Tournament held Nov.8-10 in Islamorada, FL. The event gathered the industry’s finest to raise funds for the local Guides Trust Foundation. In honor of Veteran’s Day, two war heroes were hosted to compete as a team. All American anglers competed for trophies and prizes for releasing five different species of fish: snook, redfish, bonefish, tarpon and permit. Tackle divisions included fly, artificial and bait.

Tournament Releases more than doubled those in 2016

The tournament’s field of 16 anglers on 13 boats posted overall game fish totals of 80 snook, 77 redfish,16 tarpon, 23 bonefish and one 35-lb permit. The total of 197 releases during the two-day tournament included 76 on fly, 60 on artificial tackle and 61 on general tackle. The total releases more than doubled the prior tournament’s results.

Grand Champion Angler and Fly Division Champion

Taking home top honors of Grand Champion Angler and Fly Division Champion Angler was Doug Dragoo of Pagosa Springs, CO, a Title Sponsor representing Abel reels. Dragoo released four bonefish, ten snook and ten redfish on fly, guided by Richard Black of Tavernier, FL.

Grand Champion Team and General Division Champion

Grand Champion Team honors went to Paul McCulliss of Littleton, CO, and his son Brian McCulliss of Denver, CO, Title Sponsors representing McCulliss Oil & Gas. Guided by Eric Herstedt of Homestead, FL, the duo released 20 snook, 18 redfish, one bonefish and one tarpon. Paul McCulliss also eared General Division Champion Angler with nine snook, eight redfish, one tarpon and one bonefish.

Second Place Team

Second Place Team Division honors went to US Army veteran Al Hunter, Sr., from Miami, FL, and Marine Corps veteran Eric Munoz of Homestead, FL, for releasing 12 snook and five redfish guided by Captain Mike Makowski of Key Largo, FL.

Artificial Division Champion Angler

Jim Bokar of Tavernier, FL, clinched Champion Angler in the Artificial Division, releasing ten snook and ten redfish. Bokar was representing Robert-James Sales, a Title Sponsor of the tournament.

Most Outstanding Catch and Best Photo

A 35-lb permit landed the Most Outstanding Catch and Best Photo Awards for Ken Biro of Hollywood, FL, guided by Steven Tejera of Homestead, FL.

Second-place Angler Division

Second-place Angler Division honors went to Fred Schwaibold of Charleston, SC, for releasing ten snook, ten redfish and three bonefish, guided by Dave Denkert of Islamorada, FL.

Fishing Legends Attended Event

Andy Mill, world-famous fly angler, former alpine ski racer and two-time Olympian, shared his expertise on fly fishing for tarpon at an evening reception.

The tournament also featured appearances by fishing legends Stu Apte, a tournament competitor, and Sandy Moret.

Moret and representatives from the Bonefish &Tarpon Trust spoke on the progress of the NoworNeverglades initiative at the awards banquet.

2019 All American Backcountry Tournament

Mark your calendars for the 2019 All American Backcountry Tournament which will be held November 7-9, 2019.

For more information, please contact Lisa Thornhill at

Title Sponsors:

Welcome and Awards Banquet Sponsor: 

Partner Sponsors:

Other valued donors include Orvis, Andy Mill, Bristol Bay Lodge, Blue Marlin Jewlry, James Harris and Captain Randy Stallings.

Schedule Of Events

2019 Entry Form

2019 Sponsorship Levels

2019 Tournament Rules

2019 In-kind Donation Form