Hello friends, it's been a while, and I really like the changes in the forum. Looking over some of the fishing and SF and TF threads, I thought I'd post a couple articles here to show some of you freshwater guys what it's really all about.
KEY LARGO, Fla. — The Traverse City-based Critter Control fishing team finished third in the 2004-2005 Islamorada and Key Largo Sailfish Trifecta (based on the most sailfish caught during the Don Gurgiolo Sailfish Classic, and Key Largo Sailfish Challenge, and the Holiday Isle Fishing Tournament) this past month. They topped that effort by placing second in the 20th annual Reef Cup Sailfish Tournament at the Ocean Reef Club in North Key Largo, Fla.
The Reef Cup invitational was held Jan. 19-22, and is ranked as the 7th best billfish tournament in the world by Billfish magazine. The tournament features 60 top tournament fishing boats and fishing teams that fish their choice of 3 out of 4 days of competition. Captain Kevin Clark, director of the Grand Traverse Salmon Classic, and mate Sam Worden from Showtime Charters of Traverse City, were working the cockpit for captain Glen Miller, aboard the Wet Dream, a 40' Riviera sportfishing boat. They were joined by anglers Louis Koerner of New Orleans, Mark Arney of Oakland, Mich., and Detroit Red Wings Assistant Coach Barry Smith.
On the first day the Wet Dream team had four sailfish and finished in second place behind a local Ocean Reef crew fishing on the Buckalot. On day two they went to the top of the leader board with three more sailfish, as Buckalot took their optional lay-day. After two sailfish on day three, the Traverse City crew finished with a total of nine sailfish in the tournament, second again to Buckalot. The Wet Dream crew took their lay-day on day four, and all they could do was wait and watch the other teams finish. The Raptor started the final day with seven sails and needed three to beat the Traverse City team, while two other boats had six, two more had five, and several had four.
The Wet Dream crew was out fishing for fun on the final day of the tournament - and listening carefully to the VHF radio for calls of 'hooked-up' when a boat hooked a sailfish, and calls of 'right now' when the fish was tagged and/or released. Arney kept stats on a score sheet, closely monitoring the competition. Two other boats, the Fantasy and the Mari-El, had managed to tie the Wet Dream team by 3 p.m. with nine sails, but ties on the number of fish caught are broken by the earliest time of release. The Wet Dream fishing team was still in second place with only one hour to go and sat nervously in their seats, as either of the two boats with nine only needed one more fish to move in front. The Fantasy was a serious threat, having set the Ocean Reef Club single day catch record with 21 sails just a week before last year's Reef Cup. With just five minutes left in the tournament, a call from the Raptor broke the radio silence, "This is the Raptor, hooked-up with a double," (the Raptor still had seven fish for the tournament).
A DRAMATIC FINISH. Even if they landed both fish they would only have nine and the Wet Dream team would win on time, but the crew was worried that because sailfish travel in pods, or 'wolf packs', it was possible they could hook-up yet another sailfish while fighting the first two fish. Clark's concern materialized when the radio crackled, "Raptor now hooked up to a triple," with only one minute left until lines out (fished called in before lines out still count when landed).
Clark thought that surely the Raptor would lose one or more of the sailfish, since only 55-65% of those hooked up are usually landed. An agonizing eleven minutes passed beyond lines out when the call came, "Right now for the first fish on the Raptor." It was 4:10 and they had one, with two to go. At 4:25 came the next call, "Right now - we've got number 2 on the Raptor."
All boats had to be back in the Ocean Reef Club channel by 5:00 pm for their fish to qualify, so now it was really a race against time. Would they get the third fish? Where was the Raptor? Would they be able to make it back in time? At 4:39, the Raptor called in their third sailfish release. They had done it - a rare triple had been landed. You could barely hear the radio call as the custom Carolina sportfish raced full-throttle towards the headpin at 33 knots. The Wet Dream fishing team quit washing down the boat and headed to the point of Ocean Reef to see if the Raptor would bump them from second to third. For the Raptor, it meant $12,000 for second place, or a big goose egg if they were late. At 4:55 Clark called Barry Smith, who had to leave earlier in the day, back in Detroit to give him the down-to-the-wire finish.
Over 100 people crammed the pier head to catch the the excitement. They could see two big sportfishing boats bearing down on the channel. Surely one was the Raptor, and it looked like both vessels would be to the headpin on time. The first boat passed the channel marker with two minutes to spare, but there was no radio call. It was not the Raptor. The second boat passed the pier head with one minute to spare ... and still, there was radio silence. Where was the Raptor? At 5:00 pm the radio awakened, "Committee boat, the Raptor is at the northeast bait patch (5 miles out) ... we're not going to make it!"
That secured 2nd place and $15,000 for the crew of the Wet Dream. "We did it," Clark yelled to Smith, above the crowd noise and jubilation of the Wet Dream crew. "We came in second place."
"I figured Barry wanted to know ... and that he probably needed the money (with the NHL lock-out still in place)," joked Clark.
Buckalot landed 3 sails the final day to win the tournament with 13 sailfish, their second Reef Cup win in the last three years. Overall the 60 boats in the 20th annual Reef Cup landed and released 225 sailfish. Looks like the Critter Control team can handle their own with the aquatic critters, too.
Ocean Reef Challenge Results
LYC had 5 teams travel to Ocean Reef and with the use of kites this year we were leading the tournament until 1 hour before the finish when the Ocean reef guys managed to catch 2 last minute fish. The final tally was ORC 10 sailfish, LYC 8 but the top boat in the tournament was Rick and Susan Ross on "Druthers". They and their crew Mike Bondurant and Lance Lehman managed to catch 3 Sails early on and finished the day up also with one Dolphin and one Tuna. "Barefoot" also caught 3 Sails and Larry Dalton and crew on "Reel Reason" counted 2 sails and one 24 pound Kingfish.
On Sunday we continued the tournament for the LYC boats only and there were 5 more sails caught - 3 by "Cunning Plan" and two more on "Barefoot". Congrats to "Barefoot" for wining the weekend overall. Second place went to "Druthers" and third went to "Cunning Plan."
The yearly standings took quite a change and are as follows:
Cunning Plan 197
Reel Reason 188.5
Salt Shaker 108
Shell Game 92
Surfin USA 52.5
Anna Maria 50
Young Guns 50
Conch Pearl 28
Wee Bee 24.5
Island Time 10
The overall winning team "Druthers" -
Lance Lehman, Mike Bondurant,
Susan and Rick Ross
Plans to head to Palm Beach for our two day Sailfish Shootout were pooh-pooed by some really nasty weather so the group decided to stay in Lauderdale and do a one day tournament. The weather was great and while only 6 boats fished everyone had plenty of fish to weigh. The winner was the Sullivan family on board Barefoot with a sailfish release plus three very nice Dolphin and one big King. Second place went to Lance Lehman on board Shell Game with only 1.5 pounds less fish - it doesn’t get much closer than this! Third place was taken by Rick and Susan Ross on board Druthers with a sailfish and two Dolphin. Top Lady Angler honors went to Lisa McCallister catching a Sailfish and two Dolphin on board Barefoot.
Our next event will take place at Ocean Reef where we plan to take revenge on the Rod & Gun Club for soundly beating us last year in the first Annual Club Challenge. Ocean Reef is a fantastic place to fish and the club does a great job hosting all of us as guests so this is a great event not to miss. We need everyone to get behind this so that we can win back the trophy. See our ad in this copy of the mainsheet for the complete schedule.
We will also be planning a trip to Chub Cay again to be held sometime in late March or early April. The next issue of the Mainsheet will have the dates for this event, but contact Scott Zebny if you’d like to know more about it.
Ocean Reef Club-Bonefish & Tarpon Unlimited Backbone Classic
Yep, it’s a mouthful of a title, but virtually everyone who fishes this annual extravaganza is flush with praise. Held at the exclusive Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, everyone’s treated to lavish banquets featuring carved prime rib, lobster, stone crab and jumbo shrimp – and we’re talking all of those items in the same buffet!
The target species include bonefish, tarpon, permit and trout, and prize categories reward individuals and teams. It’s an all-release format, with extra points going to those who tag each released bonefish. The auction is a spectacle in itself, offering paintings by renowned marine artists, spectacular resort trips throughout the world, autographed sports memorabilia, guided offshore and light-tackle trips, and a mind-boggling array of tackle and gear. Last year’s December event, hosted by Curt Gowdy, raised $100,000 for conservation charities. This year’s December 6 - 8 Classic promises to be the best yet. For entry information contact Rose Michno at 305-367-4707 or visit www.backboneclassic.org.
Edit comments: This thread was edited to include the images at the top, showing the SF/TF boats in action. Paul