The Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish Tournament of Champions has returned to South Florida, this time as a reimagined, invitation-only VIP event. Hosted by the Miami Beach Marina, where else but South Beach could you imagine pulling into your slip to be met by a dedicated hostess and private chef? In keeping with the social-distancing safety requirements while also making sure it’s a high-end affair, organizers simply brought the party to the teams with great food and drink options at their slip each afternoon following the captain’s meeting and fishing days.
Invited to participate were the Ring of Honor champions and top-grossing teams from Jimmy Johnson’s Quest for the Ring Championship Fishing Week, along with previous winners of the Miami Billfish Tournament. It was a veritable who’s who of the sailfish scene all week on the docks, and the opportunity to fish against some of the best on the water.
The first day saw high winds and rough seas, but the bite turned on—the 15-boat fleet tallied 105 sailfish releases. Famed basketball star Michael Jordan topped the leaderboard with 12 to earn the daily prize of $12,500 for his team fishing on Catch 23, although the fleet wasn’t far behind—Lunatico was in second with 11 and Doing It All/Hardway was third with 10. With just one more day to fish, there was little room for error.
Day Two saw much in the same way of weather—windy, with scattered showers—but once again the sailfish bite was crazy good. By lines out, 220 had been released in just two days of fishing. Priceless, owned by Jorge Sanchez and captained by Tido Sanchez Jr., emerged victorious with 22 sailfish releases, good for a payout of $117,500, as well as Garmin Marine championship watches and the all-new Tournament of Champions Cup.
Still Right, owned by Mark Blissett and captained by Scott Sotky, finished second on time with 19 releases, taking home $27,500. Reel Synergy, owned by Ryan Davis and captained by Chip Sheehan, placed third, also with 19 releases, taking home $20,000. Other notable teams included Outnumbered with 18, Lunatico with 18, Catch 23 with 17, BAR South with 14, and Team HMY with 13 sailfish releases.
It’s always nice to see an event like the Miami Billfish Tournament not only reemerge onto the fishing scene, but to do so in a way that really makes a significant impact both with the participants as well as the overall fishing community.