Herman Lucerne Memorial Tournament
September 24, 2018, Islamorada, FL — History was made this past weekend at the 18th annual Herman Lucerne Memorial backcountry tournament in Islamorada. Capt Steven Tejera and his angler Roger Fernandez won the event aboard Steven’s new Maverick 17 HPX-V with a record score of 260 inches/points by catching all seven of the tournament’s eligible species in a single day, a tournament first. Even more impressive, the team caught all seven on fly, a truly remarkable feat.
Tejera and Fernandez aren’t newcomers to the winner’s circle. The dynamic duo won the prestigious Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament earlier this summer fishing from Roger’s 17 HPX-V.
The “Lucerne”, as it’s commonly called, is a favorite of many of the best guides and anglers who fish the Keys for its unique multi-species format focusing on gamefish of the Everglades National Park. The eligible species include: tarpon, snook, bonefish, redfish, sea trout and largemouth bass or black drum. Winners are determined by number of species scored with ties broken by cumulative inch totals. Proceeds go towards the mission of the Herman Lucerne Memorial Foundation, an organization “dedicated to preserving, protecting, supporting, and enhancing the resources that enable the rich angler experiences of the Everglades and Florida Bay for today and the generations to come.”
History of the tournament
The Herman Lucerne Memorial Backcountry Fishing Championship was created in honor of one of Everglades National Park’s most respected backcountry anglers, Herman Lucerne. Known affectionately as “Mr. Everglades,” Herman’s knowledge of the backcountry was almost unparalleled, having been painstakingly acquired by exploring each area of the Park for almost 40 years. He had an uncanny memory for landmarks. One of his favorite spots was the remote and hard to reach Hell’s Bay. Herman would say, “It’s called ‘Hell’s Bay’ because it is hell to get into and hell to find your way out of.” He was one of but a handful of individuals able to navigate through the labyrinth of canals, water trails and bays, as well as the twisting maze of mangroves, to find the best fishing areas, especially to catch one of his favorite fish — snook. These were areas other experienced boatmen would fear to enter because of getting hopelessly lost. After fishing with Herman in 1968, Miami Herald writer Nixon Smiley wrote, “His hobby is exploring the darker regions of Everglades National Park, which he has been doing for 15 years.” He added, “If a fish has seen a human, Lucerne isn’t interested in it.” But it was also Herman’s energetic and dynamic personality, besides his being an excellent fisherman, which made him sought after by many to get to those hard-to-reach, but fruitful, fishing areas. He was a great conversationalist and people of all ages and walks of life, from celebrities to children, were drawn to his easygoing manner. He had fished with sports figures such as baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, former Boston Celtic great John Havlicek, golfer Ray Floyd, Nick Nicolosi, former Congressman Dante Fascell, former President Nixon’s press secretary Ron Ziegler, former CBS White House Correspondent Bob Pierpoint and John Pennekamp, conservationist and newspaper editor. Herman was a man of many talents and dimensions. He was a one-time mayor of Florida City as well as a successful businessman with lime and avocado groves. But it was sports fishing in Everglades National Park that was his true love. Able to look past the annoyances others may have focused on—mosquitoes, heat and humidity, and the difficulty in reaching those desirable areas—he saw and appreciated its beauty and serenity and understood its physical significance. And long before it was fashionable, he pushed for its preservation for enjoyment by future generations, recognizing its delicate ecosystems and status as a vital sanctuary for rare and endangered species. Tragically, Herman died in 1992 during Hurricane Andrew. This tournament has been fittingly named in Herman’s honor. Through it his legacy, spirit and passion for backcountry fishing continue to live on and serve as an inspiration for others.