Sandman Wins Jimmy Johnson National Billfish Championship

The team joins Johnson’s Ring of Honor with the victory.

The Sandman team had 10 sailfish releases on Day Two alone to top the fleet with 13 total releases.Courtesy JJNBC

In tournament fishing, success often begets success. Win a high-profile tournament and suddenly the next win doesn't seem quite so impossible. Sandra MacMillan knows the feeling as her Sandman team is riding high this year.

They’ve had several top finishes but perhaps none larger than the first place victory in the Jimmy Johnson National Billfish Championship in Key Largo, Florida. The team of MacMillan along with Robbie Ramirez, Alex Castelanos, Dommie Adames, Robbie Waddick, Chris Kaulen, and Jeffrey Liederman tallied 13 sailfish releases to win first place in the main event of the week-long Championship Week, earning a total of $395,000 in prize money as well as custom designed championship rings for each team member. With just three releases on Day One, they rebounded with an incredible Day Two, releasing 10 more sails to win the daily as well as the tournament.

Capt. Scott Stanczyk led his team of Texas-based anglers on Catch 22 to second place on time with 10 releases. Third place went to Capt. Marcos Zamudio on SeaHawk with 10 sailfish releases. The teams earned $210,00 and $60,000 in cash, respectively.

A $1.5 million total purse for the Jimmy Johnson Fishing Championship Week makes it the world’s richest guaranteed tournament purse, according to organizers. The multiday event attracted 99 boat teams and over 730 anglers who released 318 sailfish.

The philanthropic event raised over $100,000 for charitable recipients which include the Community Initiatives Foundation, a 501c3 dedicated to supporting various fundraising programs throughout South Florida; Quantum House; and Tranquil Shores Children’s Foundation.

Top Captain John Dudas, top mate Jeffrey Liederman and top angler Sandra MacMillan from Sandman.Courtesy JJNBC
Scott Stanczyk's Catch 22 team finished in second place with 10 sailfish releases.Courtesy JJNBC
SeaHawk placed third on time with 10 sailfish releases.Courtesy JJNBC
Jimmy Johnson always having fun as he hosts the second annual event.Courtesy JJNBC
The boats line up to return after Day One.Courtesy JJNBC
Artist Dennis Friel hand-painted this guitar which was auctioned for charity during the event.Courtesy JJNBC
Native Son had a great tournament, leading after Day One.Courtesy JJNBC