ISLAMORADA, Fla. — While other anglers were struggling to put together their first SLAM -- landing the five scored species -- Mike Gallops of Naples, Fla., rounded out the elusive accomplishment Wednesday and is prime position to complete a second at the Florida Keys Outfitters IGFA Inshore World Championship.
Exhibiting versatility, Gallops is the only angler to complete a SLAM in either division and leads the light tackle contingent heading into the competition's final day. His last obstacle -- he will need to land one permit Thursday to finalize the second SLAM -- is far from a certainty with permit considered toughest get for the competitors
By virtue of the SLAM, Gallops has compiled 1,075 points, which bests the 15 other competitors in the light tackle division. The scoring for the event is right in Gallops' wheelhouse. Those who can adapt and catch a variety of species are rewarded more than those who load up on particular species.
In the fly division, 19-year-old local Jacob Raskob moved into the driver's seat by bringing his tournament to three species and accumulating 1,225 points. With few anglers having success on flies, Raskob felt satisfying four of the five species requirement would be enough to take victory in the three-day event.
The Championship event was recently integrated into the ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Series presented by TakeMeFishing.org. Coverage will be presented on ESPN2 and ESPNOutdoors.com will be the tournament home for stories, photos and video content.
Gallops, a family physician, attributed his success to the supreme visibility of the water. Also key was the skill of his guide, Larry Sydnor, whose ability to find the right spots was key for Gallops.
"Permit's always the hard one so I'm not in the clear yet," said Gallops, who is close friends with Robert Collins, the 2008 champion of this event. "I'm hearing the weather is supposed to hold up tomorrow so that should help but there are a lot of talented anglers in the field and anything is possible."
After landing two bonefish and a tarpon Tuesday, Gallops landed four species Wednesday, boating three reds in addition to two snook, one tarpon and a permit. Capitalizing on a torrid early bite, Gallops landed the snook and the reds in the morning which started his day on the right foot.
Meanwhile, Raskob has primarily targeted reds, successfully landing five. But with the scoring system tilted towards a multi-species direction, he has been forced to work for other species and has also landed a bonefish and a tarpon. After sizing up his other competitors score, Raskob said he would exclusively go after snook on Thursday.
"I guess I give myself a 50 percent chance at getting a snook," said Raskob, whose guide was Dave Borras "I just have to go with what the day gives me. It's going to be tough but I think I can get it done."