Rough seas and windy conditions would not stop great sailfish action in the 49th Annual Islamorada Sailfish Tournament. 157 Sailfish were released out of the 199 called in hook ups over the three day event and over $83,000.00 was paid out to the winners. Captain Nick Ewald led anglers Eric Darville of Cutler Bay, FL fishing with Travis Upchurch and Jimmy Fickling of Islamorada FL, to the winner’s circle. With the help of mate Clyde Upchurch the team released a total of 14 Sailfish over the three day event. Captain “Wild” Bill Wichrowski of the fishing vessel Cape Caution from the Discovery Channel television show, ‘Deadliest Catch,’ would hand over the beautiful glass trophies created by Sandstorm Art Studio and a well-deserved check to the Viva La Vida at the awards ceremony.
Captain Paul Ross of the charter boat Relentless would battle fish for fish with the Viva La Vida with both boats releasing 9 Sailfish on the first day. Captain Alex Adler on his famed Kalex would do his best to keep up with “the boys” releasing 7 Sails. Day two would blow in as rough as day one with winds 20 to 25 gusting to upwards of 30 kts. Captain Brian Cone would move up on the leaders releasing 5 fish on day two bringing his two day total to 7 releases. Viva La Vida would swap fish one for one again, with the Relentless, but at the end of the day Relentless would be in the lead on time with 13 fish.
On the final day Captain Augie Wampler’s Predator would live up to its name as the team hunted down the competition. Closing in on them would be last year’s winners the Bodacious. While the two were passing the remaining 21 teams the Viva La Vida would release a Sail propelling them into 1st place ahead of the Relentless. At 1:22 angler Shay Danzig aboard the Bodacious would hook up to a Sailfish. If this fish was released it would put them ahead of the Predator. Captain Augie called the committee boat at 1:27 as he too was hooked up. It would be a release for angler Don Gaytos of Medford, NJ aboard the Predator, before the release on the Bodacious that would secure their third place win.
Relentless anglers Fenton Langston from Ocean Reef, FL fishing with Jimmy and Debbie David of Hollywood FL, and Jimmy Hendrix from Islamorada, FL took home second place honors. Captain Paul Ross with the help of mate Mike Walter would release 9 fish the first day and 4 fish on the second day. The Relentless would take home second place trophies with a total of 13 releases.
Captain Augie Wampler’s Predator fishing anglers Jeff Moore (Jacksonville, FL), Mike Cook (Broomall, PA), Don Gaytos (Medford, NJ) and Ross Demarzo (Islamorada, FL) with the help of mate Tim Arse would release 3 sails on the first day, 2 the second day and 5 on the final day. The team would take home third place honors with a total of 10 Releases.
The prestigious Bill Hirni Memorial Trophy and a stunning lighted glass trophy would go to High Point angler Eric Darville aboard the Viva La Vida with a total of 7 releases on time. Angler Debbie David would win the Top Lady Angler award with her three releases aboard the Relentless. Junior angler and last year’s high point angler Shawn MacMullin Jr. fishing with his father aboard the Prime Time would take home the top junior angler award with 3 Sailfish releases.
Most Tagged fish went to the Catchalottafish. Captain James Chappell and mates Marc Toledo and Brian Jamison would tag 3 of the7 Sailfish they released for anglers Lee Robertson (Chattanoogo, TN), Brad Perra (Rock Springs, GA), Mike Sisto (Key Largo, FL) and Steve Pere (Sarasota, FL).
The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is the first leg of the Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship. The Viva La Vida is currently in the lead with 14 fish. Second place in the Gold Cup is the Relentless with 13 releases and third is the Bodacious with 10 releases. The next leg of the series is the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament January 17th thru the 19th. The champions will be crowned at the Islamorada Fishing Clubs January Sailfish Tournament on the 24th 2013.
93 Anglers fishing aboard 25 Boats competed in the event. The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is the primary fund raiser for the Islamorada Charter Boat Association. With the help of our major sponsors Caribee Boat Sales, Yamaha Outboards, World Wide Sportsman, Mangrove Mikes, Mercedes Benz of Cutler Bay, Coral Bay Marina, Tackle Center of Islamorada, and the splendid parties put on by Whale Harbor Restaurants and Marina, 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