Fishing, Fun and Family in the Florida Keys
Capt. Ben Sharpe and Gypsea capture the 6th Annual Viking Key West Challenge.
(Key West, Florida, February 13, 2019)—Forty Vikings from 42 to 82 feet and a record 475 participants descended upon the southernmost city in the United States last week for the 6th Annual Viking Key West Challenge. Ben Sharpe was the winning captain for the fourth time, leading the Viking 56 Gypsea to victory in a closely contested – but fun-focused – competition.
“The Key West Challenge has been a success every year, but this time around the energy level, excitement and fishing was at an all-time high,” said Viking President and CEO Pat Healey. “This is an event exclusively for Viking owners, family and friends. It gives us the opportunity to thank them for being part of the Viking family.”
After a captain’s meeting at Dante’s Tiki Bar that featured delicious food, fun prizes and lots of camaraderie, the teams headed off the following morning for a glorious day on the water. A total of 45 sailfish were released and one swordfish was caught on day one. Gypsea topped the Day One leaderboard with five sails released (500 points), followed by the Viking 80 Mr. Grinch with four sails (400 points). The Viking 62 Tami Ann also released four sails and took third on time. The teams steamed back to the scales at Conch Harbor Marina to weigh their catches and pose for pictures. The Viking 44 Miss Peggy Sue II and captain/owner David Heeter stole the show with a 108-pound swordfish, which was donated for lunch the next day!
More Than Just Fishing
A pool party and lunch, a kids dock tournament and a poker run (i.e. bar crawl) highlighted a relaxed but festive lay day. In the kids tournament, which was sponsored by The Billfish Foundation, Colin Dicembrino took first place, with sisters Ella and Mia Wilson placing second and third, respectively. “This is what it’s all about – passing on the passion for fishing to the next generation,” TBF President Ellen Peel said. “Great job kids!”
The fishing turned white hot on the final day, with 87 sails released. The Viking 48 Fish Wish released eight sails and caught an 8.3-pound dolphin for 808.3 points. Last year’s champ, the Viking 55 Ragin Cajun, was right on their heels with seven sails and a 21.4-pound tuna (721.4 points).
Gypsea had a solid day two as well, with five sails. But it was their dolphin that turned out to be the difference-maker. With an overall point total of 1,004.6, Gypsea edged second-place finisher Mr. Grinch (1,000 overall points) to take the 2019 Viking Key West Challenge crown. Ragin Cajun landed third place overall with 933.8 points. Natalie Rarick on the Viking 82 Bandit took both Top Angler and Top Female Angler awards with eight sailfish and a total of 892.2 points. All results are listed below.
The four-day event wrapped up with an outdoor evening dinner and awards ceremony at the Margaritaville Resort that began with a beautiful Key West sunset. “You can’t beat this,” said Pat. “We truly do appreciate your participation in making this a very special Viking event.”
Next year, the 7th Annual Key West Challenge will be held April 15-18, 2020. Book your slip today!
Miami Beach, Fla. (Mar. 18, 2019) – The party moves south, as the highly anticipated grand finale of the Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series, Final Sail, closes out in Miami Beach this year on April 3-7. A hefty purse in excess of $800,000 is not the only prize teams have their eyes on. The prestigious burgundy jackets are also awarded to the top overall team at this final leg of the series. With an elite fleet of competitors, this world title is as tight as the lines, but the leader will be cut soon and just one team will claim their spot in the competitive sailfishing hall of fame.
Major payouts aren’t the only attraction for teams at Final Sail. This grand finale takes place in Miami Beach, with an exciting kick-off party overlooking beautiful Biscayne Bay and a Resorts World Bimini sponsored “Casino Night” where anglers compete on the green felt to help raise money for the tournament charity, Fishing for Muscular Dystrophy. The kick-off party is held Wednesday, April 3rd at the incredible DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay. With a “day of rest” in between, competition starts on Friday, April 5th with lines in at 8 a.m. Following lines out on day one, teams can unwind for happy hour at the famous Monty’s Restaurant in Miami Beach Marina with complimentary drinks and food. Day two of competition is Saturday April 6th and tensions will be high as the final scores determine both the winners of Final Sail and the Quest for the Crest series.
With a total purse exceeding $1.9 million dollars, several boats have claimed six figure prizes at each stop for the series. With a current payout approaching $350,000 and a winner-take-all format, the Release Round Up has the undivided attention of every team and many spectators heading into Final Sail. Run the table in Final Sail and your team will have a shot at a payday in excess of $500,000. Five teams were in arms reach of the jackpot in the last tournament, Sailfish Challenge, and two of those teams needed just two more releases to win the massive jackpot. The signature category is broken into four rounds of fishing (morning and afternoon) over the two-day competition. In each round, a random number between 1 and 6 is drawn at the start of the round and represents the minimum number of sailfish a team must release during the 4-hour round in order to advance to the next. A team must advance through all four rounds and have the most releases in the final round among their competitors in order to claim the jackpot.
The results of the first two legs in the series have been diverse, with Utopia taking first place for Operation Sailfish with 14 releases, MDALA only a release behind with 13, and Kluch/Reel Easy taking 3rd place with 12 releases. Sailfish Challenge was a nail-bitter to the end. Native Son, one of the final five in the Release Round Up at the Challenge, secured 1st place with 20 releases. Team Good Call followed closely behind in 2nd with 19 releases and Kluch/Reel Easy snagged back-to-back 3rd place finishes with 18 releases. Their consistent performances earned them the lead in the series standings with 56 points followed by Bar South in 2nd place with 51 points, and one of the center-console favorites, team Showtime in 3rd place with 49 points on their 39’ SeaVee.
Claiming the world champions title and the burgundy jackets requires dominant performances and most importantly – consistency. As the final sailfish tournament of the season, teams know what is at stake. Who will rise to the occasion? The 7th annual Final Sail will be one to remember and the tournament of the season you won’t want to miss!
2019 Final Sail Details:
The Final Sail kick-off party is held on Wednesday, April 3 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay in Miami Beach. Competition days are both Friday, April 5th and Saturday, April 6th, followed by an awards ceremony Sunday, April 7th at the DoubleTree Grand Hilton Hotel ballroom. Tournament registration is available online at www.FinalSail.com and remains open until the conclusion of the kickoff party on April 3rd.
For more information on Final Sail, visit www.FinalSail.com or call 954-725-4010. The entire Quest for the Crest schedule and series standings can be found at http://www.questforthecrest.com
KEY LARGO, Florida Keys — Team Seraphim of Ocean Reef, led by Captain Jerry Pohl of Miami, Florida, tallied 12 sailfish releases to take top honors at the two-day Billfish Championship, a main event of the Jimmy Johnson Fishing Championship Week that ended March 9 in the Florida Keys.
The Seraphim team earned $405,000 in overall prize money for the victory, as well as authentic, custom-designed Jimmy Johnson’s NBC Championship rings for each team member. [Read more…]
Native Son Wins Sailfish Challenge with Walk Off Release
Four boats make it to final round of $314,000 Release Round Up
Pompano Beach, Fla. (Feb 26, 2019) – Nothing short of exciting and unpredictable with a 52-boat fleet, 466 anglers, 3 inlets and 2 days of competition, the 16th annual Sailfish Challenge was one for the books. The tournament opened with an amazing kickoff party hosted at the International Game Fish Association, charitable beneficiary for the tournament. Within these two-days a total of 427 sailfish were released from Palm Beach down to Miami, with a majority of the boats fishing from Palm Beach to Jupiter. The record setting bite got off to a hot start at lines in on day 1 and stayed steady until the end of the tournament with multiple boats hooked up each day all the way through lines out.
Competition was stiff and the stakes were high with a $639,220 total purse and the $314,100 Release Round Up on a tight line, the first number drawn Friday morning was 1. 29 boats advanced to the second round. At noon on Friday the second number was pulled and coincidently it was number 2. 19 boats advanced on two round 3 where it would take 4 releases or more to make it to the final round on Saturday afternoon. 5 boats made the cut and were only a few hours and 5 more releases away from a $314,100 winner-take-all payday! Native Son, Double Diamond and Chips Ahoy Too all got the closest, each releasing 3 fish a piece in the final round, however the 5-release mark was not met. Native Son went 3 for 6 in the final round, however it was not meant to be. With no winner, the massive jackpot rolls over into the Final Sail tournament in Miami on April 3-7 where it is expected to reach $350,0000! [Read more…]
Congratulations to Captain Robert Collins and the crew of the Last Dance on their win at the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament. Robert, fishing Janet and Erik Akin’s Viking 52, led anglers Matt McLean, Mark Wodlinger, Ken Longaker and Robert Helms to 14 sailfish releases. Ten of those releases were on the last day, creating a lot of action in the pit. Matt released seven of the sails earning the title of High Point Angler. Robert received the High Point Captain award. Brandon Hopper and Dallas Hopper on the Last Dance took home High Mate awards.
The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is the first leg of the Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship. This win puts Last Dance at the top of the board. The next leg in the series is the Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish Tournament beginning on January 24, 2019.
The 55th Annual Islamorada Sailfish Tournament kicked off at Whale Harbor hosting 79 anglers, plus friends and family with a grand buffet. Great Sailfish action started on Friday morning and continued over the next three days concluding on December 2nd. Captain Robert Collins of the Last Dance led anglers Matt McLean and Mark Wodlinger both from Naples, Florida along with Ken Longaker and Robert Helms of Islamorada to the winner’s circle with a total of 14 sailfish releases. The team took home beautiful sailfish trophies sponsored by Caribee Boat Sales and Yamaha Outboards. 138 Sailfish were released out of the 170 called in hook ups with nearly $70,000.00 going to the winners.
Anglers were greeted with great conditions on the first day of fishing and it did not take long for Kalex to call in the first hook up. Angler Richard Hill released the first fish of the tournament at 8:35. By the end of day one, Kalex, Captained by Alex Adler, lead anglers Chris Chastain of Hublesville, IN, Richard Hill, Alan Sutkowski of Plainfield, IN, and Justin Baker of Tavernier, FL into the lead with 5 sailfish releases. Caribsea, captained by K.C. Spaulding of Islamorada was hot on his heals with 5 releases as well.
Day two produced 40 sailfish releases. Kalex released one more sail, giving them a six fish total in two days. Priceless’ captain Tido Sanchez slipped his team into second place with 4 releases the first day and 3 more on the second. But Caribsea released 3 fish giving them a total of 8 fish and the lead at day’s end.
The final day of fishing saw a lot of action with Last Dance Captained by Robert Collins hooking a quad and releasing all four fish by 8:50 in the morning. Last Dance hooked a 5th fish at 8:58 which they successfully released minutes later giving them an exciting start to their day. The action continued for Last Dance releasing a fish at 10:22, followed by another release at 10:47. Anglers Matt McLean, Ken Longaker, Mark Wodlinger, and Robert Helms continued their momentum and ended the day with a total of 10 releases.
Last Dance ended the 3-day tournament with a total of 14 fish landing them the Overall Champion trophy sponsored by Caribee Boat Sales and Yamaha Outboards. Angler Matt Mclean released a total of 7 fish earning him the High Point Angler Award sponsored by Tackle Center of Islamorada. He was also awarded the Bill Hirni high point angler perpetual trophy. Captain Robert Collins took home the High Point Captain Award. The High Point Mate awards went to Brandon Hopper and Dallas Hopper. The Priceless anglers Bernie Perez, Coral Gables; Thomas Sims, Miami; Matthew Rodriguez, Cutler Bay; Manny Fernandez, Miami; and A.J. Sepe, Coral Gables released 5 more fish on the last day landing them the Second Place Trophy, sponsored by Tackle Center of Islamorada, with a total of 12 released fish.
Anglers Josh Jackson, Temple, TX; Erik Ehlers, Islamorada; Jeremy Stigler, Rockdale, TX; Jake Turek, Islamorada; Tim Johnson, Rockdale, TX fishing aboard Cloud Nine, captained by Greg Eklund, finished with 12 sailfish releases and end up in third place on time.
Sean MacMullin Jr. of Key Largo fishing aboard Prime Time captained by Sean MacMullin Sr. released and tagged 2 sailfish earning them the Most Tagged Fish Trophy sponsored by Barefoot Baits and Fishing Services.
Top Lady Angler, Debbie David of Miami, released a total of 4 Sailfish earning her a trophy sponsored by Mangrove Mike’s Café. Debbie, fishing aboard the Relentless, also earned the Most Outstanding Catch Award with a 65 lb Wahoo caught on 12 lb. test.
Junior angler Matthew Williams of Melbourne, FL released 2 sailfish fishing aboard the Smile Maker earning him the First Place Junior Angler trophy. The 2nd place junior trophy went to Daniel Maduro of Miami, FL aboard the Mangler. Ryan Cano, also fishing aboard the Mangler released 1 sailfish and earned Third Place Junior Angler award.
Charles Odum, Flemmington, NJ, fishing aboard the Smile Maker was awarded Largest Tuna Trophy sponsored by Tim Rahn Photography with a 12.8 lb blackfin tuna. Corey Nelson of Key Largo earned the Largest Mackerel Trophy sponsored by Islamorada Charter Boat Association, with a 43.8 lb King Mackerel. Colby Mason took home the Largest Dolphin Trophy with a 34.4 lb fishing aboard the Caribsea.
The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is the first leg of the Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship. The Last Dance is currently in the lead with 14 fish. Second place in the Gold Cup is the Caribsea with 12 releases and third is the Kalex with 10 releases. The next leg of the series is the Islamorada Fishing Club’s Sailfish Tournament on January 24th, 2019 and the champions will be crowned at the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament January 26th thru the 27th.
“Whale Harbor served up another great event,” stated tournament director Dianne Harbaugh. 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
CABO SAN LUCAS, BCS, Mex. – A 458-pound black marlin landed on the final day of the Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore Tournament was worth $520,485 in prize money to the Wild Hooker Team aboard the Wild Hooker.
It took tournament angler Danny Hogan 1 hour, 25 minutes to subdue the monster which ate a skipjack tuna.
The winning fish narrowly beat a 455-pound black marlin caught aboard the boat Predator. The second-place fish was worth $333,418 in prize money.
In all, the tournament’s 123 teams composed of 763 anglers and crews competed for a record $1,165,000, according to event director Wayne Bisbee.
Other notable winners in various categories included:
· A 235-pound yellowfin tuna by Team Overtime aboard the boat Overtimevalued at $129,860;
· A 73-pound tuna by Team Altata Bay aboard the Catamaran valued at $78,200; and
· A 455-pound black marlin by team Los Compadres del Dorado valued at $9,686.
Winning amounts are determined by tournament entry fees together with various daily and event jackpot prizes.
The tournament was divided into seven categories limited to marlin, tuna and dorado. Five billfish exceeded the minimum weight of 300 pounds, eight tuna and numerous dorado were brought to the scale. All the fish (2,869 pounds — 8,607 meals) that were brought to the scale were given to charities for orphans, homeless or disabled.
IBT of Club Nautico de San Juan from Oct. 15-21
Over 40 boats and nearly 200 anglers, including 30 from abroad and representing five countries: South Africa, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, United States and Puerto Rico will participate in the International Billfish Tournament (IBT) of Club Náutico de San Juan next week. Oct. 15-21 with the waxing gibbous moon of October.
“Fishing is excellent. Many boats that are going out there are reporting 4 out of 3 or 5 out of 3 billfish releases. We have a lot of action out there”, says Salvador Egea, Jr., chairman of the 65th anniversary edition, tournament leader for third year in a row. “It’s all about the experience and we provide the best yachts and fishing grounds to fish a tournament to remember.”
CURRENT STANDINGS as of FRIDAY AUGUST 24 at 10:00am:
DAY 4 UPDATE:
Day Four dawned clear and breezy for the 124 boats heading offshore in the 2018 MidAtlantic tournament and crews were anxious to get back to the canyons. The back-end of the cold front that kept the entire fleet tied to the dock for the first time in the event’s 27-year history on Day Three left sea conditions a bit sporty for most of the day though it was reported conditions began to improve late in the afternoon today.
The big news of the day came in the white marlin category where Captain Bob Grant wheeled Leonard Tallon’s Gusto based out of Islamorada, Florida into third place after weighing a 69-pounder. Captain Jason Genthner had the Tighten Up from Mount Airy, Maryland on the board briefly with a 67-pound white marlin for 14-year old angler Nick Keller but that fish was bumped off the board by Gusto shortly after it was weighed. John Phelan’s Special Situation from Palm Beach, Florida and Justin Branning’s 3’s Enough from Wall, New Jersey remain atop the leaderboard with white marlin of 73-pounds.
As with the previous two fishing days, numerous blue marlin were released though none were weighed today and the category remains wide open.