Torrential Rains do not deter anglers in the 52nd Annual Islamorada Sailfish Tournament
The 52nd Annual Islamorada Sailfish Tournament was greeted by an epic rain on Thursday night December 3rd during the kick off at Whale Harbor Restaurants and Marina. But the weekend full of rain did not deter 19 boats with 82 anglers from pursuing Sailfish over the next three days. In the end the One Up would win the tournament with a total of 14 Sailfish releases, taking home over $23,000 in prize money. Captain JC Cleare with mates Ryan Alexander and Eric Darvill fishing anglers Doug Mientkiewicz of Islamorada, along with Michelle Beltran, Rudy Espinosa, Rudy Espinosa Jr, Reggie Rodriguez, and Max Tower all from Miami, FL would be awarded beautiful Sailfish trophies sponsored by Tackle Center of Islamorada.
Anglers were met with a west wind and rainy conditions as they reached the edge of the reef for the first day of fishing. Even with these daunting conditions every boat in the tournament would release at least one Sailfish. Angler Scott Naz fishing aboard the Conetagious would release the first sailfish of the tournament at 9:01 AM. Captain Chris Dillon’s Charisma with anglers, Mitch and Mike Williamson, Billy Glass, Mike Gargiula and Kyle Potts all from Ft. Myers Florida would catch two double headers and three more sails that day, to lead with 7 releases. The One Up was close on their heels with 7 releases of their own coming in second for the day on time. By the end of the day 50 sails would be released by the 19 teams.
Day two produced more heavy downpours and fishing conditions were terrible at best. Last year’s winners on the Relentless would be high hook for the day with 8 releases. It would be a much harder day for One Up as they added 3 fish to their 7 releases from the first day. Captain Paul Ross’ anglers Fenton Langston from Ocean Reef, FL, Jimmy Hendrix and Paul Ross III of Tavernier, FL, along with Debbie, Jimmy and James David of Fort Lauderdale, FL would add 8 fish to their 3 releases from day one for a total of 11 sails propelling the Relentless into the lead.
The final day of fishing would bring strong winds from the NE with more rain. One Up would pick sails throughout the day, releasing 4 more fish. When the committee boat called lines out at 3PM the One Up would be in the lead with 14 releases. The Relentless would take home a check and second place trophies sponsored by Mangrove Mike’s Café, with a total of 12 releases. Silent Hunter anglers BJ Meyer, John Callion, Cody Darbie, Ben Zdan, Kevin McKeon all from Marathon, and John Henry of Sunrise, FL would take home the Boat Goat Scrub sponsored sailfish trophies, and a check for third place with 5 fish the first day, and two releases each, on the second and third days for a total of 9.
Top Angler Doug Mientkiewicz would be awarded an original Lisa Herman painting sponsored by Caribee Boat Sales and Marina for his 6 releases. As high point angler Doug’s name will be added to the Bill Hirni memorial trophy. An original wooden sculpted sailfish with circle hook sponsored by Yamaha Outboards went to Top Lady Angler Michelle Beltran who had 4 releases on time. Both anglers were fishing with Captain JC Cleare aboard the One Up.
Lobster Trap Art Gallery trophies would be awarded to Shawn MacMullin Jr. age 15, from Key Largo, FL fishing aboard the Prime Time for First Place Junior Angler with 3 releases. Second place junior angler James David aboard the Relentless and Reed Ekey of Port Orange FL, third place junior angler, fishing aboard the Miss Emma each released two sailfish.
Most Tagged Fish award would go to the Challenger 2 with 6 tagged fish. The most outstanding catch would be a 41 pound Wahoo caught by Patrick Nutt aboard the Kalex. Jimmy Hendrix would land the largest Kingfish a 25.6 pounder. Fishing aboard the Hey Papa with Captain Scott Stanczyk from the Catch 22, Wet Dream team angler Kevin Clark would catch the largest Tuna weighing in at 25.9 pounds and team member Mike Slocum would weigh the largest Dolphin, an 11.3 pounder.
The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is the first leg of the Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship. The One Up is currently in the lead with 14 fish. Second place in the Gold Cup is the Relentless with12 releases and third is the Silent Hunter with 9 releases. The next leg of the series is the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament January 14th thru 16th. The champions will be crowned at the Islamorada Fishing Clubs Sailfish Tournament on January 21st 2016.
“Whale Harbor served up another great event,” stated tournament director Dianne Harbaugh. “The mini seafood buffet on the kick off night was fantastic. The awards banquet was hand served by the exceptional staff at Wahoo’s restaurant. The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is the primary fund raiser for the Islamorada Charter Boat Association. The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament will continue the fight to preserve and protect the fabulous fishing in the Florida Keys. More information on the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament can be found on the web site www.islamoradasailfishtournament.com