It's March, which means it's also time for some madness, and not just on the basketball court. Marlin is bringing the tournament brackets out on the water to determine our top fan favorite tournament-fishing teams in the world. Sixty-four teams. Below are the 16 qualifying teams for the Florida region, listed in alphabetical order. First-round pairings will be drawn randomly within each region.
Peter Adrian and his team aboard 4 Aces has been near the top of many Florida tournaments the past few sailfish seasons. Capt. Ryan McBride and the team had a breakthrough win in the 2017 Sailfish 400, when it released nine sailfish to win the second leg of the Quest for the Crest series.
The team aboard Champagne Lady won the 2016 Pirate's Cove Sailfish Challenge, a three-day tournament that included 24 boats. Capt. Josh Chaney's team released 20 sailfish to win the early season tournament.
Crescendo began the 2016/2017 Florida sailfish season with quite a showing. Capt. Skip Dana's team released 10 sailfish in the opening leg of this year's Quest for the Crest series and barely edged Contender One, Sandman and Weez in the Keys, three consistent South Florida competitors.
Ditch Digger's win in the January 2017 Gold Cup tournament is the victory the team needed to qualify for Marlin Madness. Capt. Jon Brooks' crew released 38 sailfish in three days of fishing. Now let's see how many votes the team gets.
Doing It All
Thanks to Capt. Mark Lamb's group's 22 sailfish releases, the Doing It All team won the Palm Beach Classic in November.
The crew aboard Double Take started its 2017 calendar with a narrow win in the highly prestigious Silver Sailfish Derby. The tournament, hosted in West Palm Beach, Florida, was in its 80th year, and included all sorts of dramatics. Capt. Mike Laufle's team released nine sailfish and won the event on time.
The crew aboard Grand Slam, a 50-foot Forbes, dominated the Pelican Yacht Club tournament. Capt. David Grubbs and the team won the 2016 event and followed by releasing 33 sailfish in a victory against 22 other boats in the 2017 tournament.
Capt. Travis Dickens and the Indigenous team made a mark early in 2017 with a big win, defeating 21 other boats in the Cheeca Lodge and Spa’s 27th Annual Presidential Sailfish Tournament.
Jichi is another team with two wins in the past two sailfish seasons, both coming last season. Capt. Gene Lebron's crew released 18 sailfish in the 2016 Sailfish Challenge and then released 25 sailfish to top the Sailfish Shootout field.
The 2016 Fish Heads of Stuart Invitational went Martha D's way. Capt. Scott Fawcett's crew released 14 sailfish in last November's two-day tournament.
Capt. Ray Rosher and the team aboard Miss Britt qualified for Marlin Madness in the last-possible tournament, the 2017 Sailfish Challenge, held February 24-25, 2017. The team released 16 sails to win the event. After consistently performing well the past few years — angler Stephanie Choate has had numerous Top Lady Angler victories throughout the Florida sailfish circuit — Miss Britt finally picked up the win it needed.
Capt. Paul Ross' Relentless team won the 2016 Islamorada Sailfish Tournament with 15 releases, edging out second-place Last Dance's 14.
Sandman is a name routinely near the top of Florida sailfish tournaments, but it was at the very top of last year's Final Sail in Key West, Florida. The team, led by owner Sandra MacMillan and Capt. John Louie Dudas, released 21 sailfish in the three-day tournament and finished third in the Quest for the Crest series last season.
Seraphim qualified by winning two tournaments in the past two Florida sailfish seasons. Capt. Jerry Pohl's crew defeated a 61-boat field in the 2017 Reef Cup and also released 11 sailfish to win the prestigious 2016 Sailfish 400. Seraphim has been a consistent top boat in the Florida sailfish circuit for many years.
The team aboard Toast won the 2016 Stuart Sailfish Club Light Tackle Tournament, an extremely close competition with the winner and second-place finisher separated by just one release. Capt. Newt Cagle's crew released 14 sailfish in the tournament.
Utopia showed an impressive amount of consistency during the 2015/2016 sailfish season in Florida. While Capt. Luis Coll's crew didn't win any individual tournament, it did win the three-leg Quest for the Crest series. In the Final Sail tournament, Utopia released 18 sailfish and finished as the event's runner-up team.
How the teams qualified
A team must have won at least one tournament in the past two years from a list of prestigious tournaments decided by the Marlin editors. Two wins earns an automatic entry. If there are more eligible teams than the 16 spots available, the most recent victory breaks the tie.