The Jimmy Johnson National Billfish Championship is one of the most competitive tournaments anywhere in the world, attracting an astronomically high level of fishing talent to South Florida for its guaranteed $1 million prize purse. This year’s ninth-annual event, held March 3-7, 2020, upheld that stellar history. This year, the event changed its boundaries, giving teams an option to fish a 112-nautical-mile swath from north of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale to Alligator Light in Islamorada, while hosting the ultimate in parties at the iconic Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. This season, 82 teams joined the fray in the billfish championship, where they released 435 sailfish and one white marlin.
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In the end, just 26 seconds separated the first- and second-place teams. Marking their second win in the event, Sandra MacMillan’s Sandman team released 12 sailfish in two days to win a total of $238,000 and a second ring in Jimmy Johnson’s Ring of Honor. MacMillan was also the event’s Top Female Angler; her teammate Robbie Ramirez was named Top Angler. Sandman is a 63-foot Spencer captained by John Louis Dudas. De-Bait-Able finished in second with 12 sailfish, winning $195,000. Owned by Mike Walsh and captained by KJ Zehar, De-Bait-Able is a 62-foot Viking based in Palm Beach, Florida. Reel Estate/Shell Yeah, a 39-foot SeaVee captained by Dallas Twist and owned by Todd Minnick, placed third with 11 sailfish releases, earning $66,500 for their efforts.