By Elliott Stark
Captain Marty Lewis and his wife Katie own and operate Main Attraction Charters out of Key Colony Beach, Florida. With five working charter boats, the Lewises are no stranger to the waters of the Lower Keys. It was this experience and familiarity that led to a hunch that turned into what may have been the best day of sailfishing in the history of the Florida Keys. On Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, Captain Marty Lewis and the crew of the Main One, a 49’ Cape Fear, released a Keys’ record 70 sails.
Here’s how it happened.
“I took my wife and daughter out tuna fishing on Saturday off of Marathon. It was a slick calm day but I could see that the Gulf Stream was running in close. I knew that the next day might be a good day to go sailfishing but it was Easter Sunday. I asked my wife if I could go and she gave me hall pass to go fishing,” Lewis explains with a bit of a laugh.
Upon returning to the dock after fishing Lewis’ mate, Digger Rodamer, sent out a group text to round up a crew for the following day. The next day, Digger, Shelby Bentley, Aaron “Nautical” Sutcliffe, Steve Fitzgerald and Joe Marino joined Marty to head offshore. Loaded up with 800 or 1,000 live pilchards the crew departed the dock at Key Colony Beach Marina at 7:00.
They started fishing about 25 miles west of Marathon. Captain Marty found what he was looking for—the spot where the Gulf Stream tucked in—off of the American Shoal near Big Pine Key. “Every fish we caught was tailing. We cast live pilchards to them. There was no kite fishing or trolling. We probably saw 100 fish on the day, but we couldn’t get to all of them. Almost all of those that we cast a bait to ate—only two or three turned away. There was no pressure on them, we only saw two or three other boats out,” Lewis describes.
Lewis and company caught their first fish at 10:00. Forty minutes later the tally was up to six. “We had a steady stream of groups of fish passing through most of the day. There were two rallies when we’d have a guy hooked up on the bow and a guy fighting one at the stern and then we’d hook others. One time we had a guy fighting a fish for an hour. We must have caught eight or ten fish while he was fighting his.”
By 3:15 pm the tally eclipsed 40. By 5:00 the total was 60 and the crew realized they had a shot a breaking the Keys’ record of 65 sailfish releases in a day. Lewis kept a running tally with his wife Katie over text message. The final text came through at 6:35—“70 and done.”
It was a record breaking day for the veteran charter captain and a group of his buddies. Captain Marty spent the day in the tower directing his guys where to cast as sailfish tailed into range. The fish were caught on Mustad ultra point 6/0 circle hooks using 30 and 40 pound leader. All of the fish were caught slinging live pilchards to tailers on Penn spinning outfits.
News of the epic day brought led 30 or 40 boats to fish the area the next day. While Capt. Marty decided to take Monday off (after all he wasn’t going to catch 70 again) the bite continued for the next couple of days. Monday produced 46 releases followed by 30 on Tuesday. The hot streak produced an incredible 146 sails over three consecutive days for Main Attraction Sportfishing Charters.
To book a day with Marty and the Main Attraction Charters, visit them at: www.mainattraction.org or give them a call at: 305.289.0071