When Jen Burns came home to Cudjoe Key, Fla., after a grueling
junior year at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., her plans didn’t include scoring a sweeping win at the Conch Republic Ladies Dolphin Championship. But the 20-year-old angler did just that — earning individual first-place honors for catching a 33.3-pound dolphin, the tournament’s largest, and partnering with her parents to win the boat championship.
Burns, who was about to start her senior year at West Point, fished with her mother, tournament veteran Rae Burns, and father Capt. Jeff Burns, on the father’s boat On the Fly.
“We just wanted to enjoy fishing together as a family, but as soon as we got out there we caught two big fish,” said Jen Burns.
Those two fish were Jen’s 33.3-pounder and a 27.7-pound dolphin reeled in by Rae Burns. With an aggregate weight of 61 pounds, they secured On the Fly’s boat championship for the largest combined weight of two dolphins.
Rae Burns, named the tournament’s second-place individual angler for the second consecutive year, said the family also caught six more dolphins that weighed more than 20 pounds each.
Rae Burns narrowly edged out Vicki Hanks of Green Cove Springs, Fla., who caught a 27.6-pound dolphin fishing from the Reel Appeal, skippered by Capt. Tom Ault. Hanks earned third-place individual honors.
The Conch Republic Ladies Dolphin Championship drew 90 participants fishing on 21 boats.