Fishing Film Festival to Honor Legendary Angler

A Florida Keys sportfishing legend is to be honored at an inaugural event showcasing recreational angling films and videos.

The Islamorada Fishing Film Festival is set to begin at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, May 22, at Founders Park (mile marker 87 bayside) and is to be dedicated to Billy Pate Jr., who died April 18 at age 80. The event is a fundraiser for the United Way of the Florida Keys.

Pate is regarded as one of the world's foremost big-game fly fishermen. He is best known for his 188-pound world record tarpon caught on 16-pound tippet. The achievement remained a record for 21 years.

Pate's name holds more significant saltwater fly-fishing records than any other angler. He was the first angler to catch six billfish species on fly including blue, black, white and striped marlin, as well as Atlantic and Pacific sailfish, according to Doug Kelly, author of the recently released book, "Florida's Fishing Legends and Pioneers."

Pate produced a number of angling films and videos, but perhaps is best known for "The Challenge of Giant Tarpon." A segment is to kick off festival film and video screenings beginning at 8 p.m.

The event is to showcase a number of stellar angling productions. The featured film is "Tarpon," a 53-minute film capturing the essence of fly-fishing for tarpon in the Keys in 1973. The film follows the fishing adventures of authors Jim Harrison and Thomas McGuane, as well as the late poet Richard Brautigan. Music was written and performed by Jimmy Buffett.

The festival also features a contest that encourages submissions of footage showcasing anglers' most memorable moments on the water in several categories.

More details on the contest and the festival are available at or call 305-735-1929.

Tickets can be purchased on the website for $12 per person and at the gate for $15.

United Way of the Florida Keys is a nonprofit organization that focuses on health and human services for area residents.

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