Miami captain earns Gold Cup honors
The three-tournament quest for the coveted Florida Keys Gold Cup ended Jan. 24 with the conclusion of the Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish Tournament.
Capt. John Dudas of Miami led the Wound Up team to win the Gold Cup, scoring a total of 24 sailfish releases during the series, which also included the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament and the Cheeca Presidential Sailfish Tournament.
The team consisted of Dudas’ brother Brett Dudas of Fort Lauderdale, Roy Huff of Homestead, Fla., and Warren and Janice Sands of Pinecrest, Fla. The teammates have fished competitively together for six years, and have 14 tournaments on their schedule this season.
“The Gold Cup is a very big deal in the sailfishing world,” said Warren Sands.
Second place went to No Mercy with 20 total releases. Anglers Rob Ruwitch, Albert Castro and Rick Arnold, all of Miami, and Mike Causley of Homestead, Fla., fished with Captain Steve Cunningham of Miami.
Arnold was the high-point angler for releasing 11 sails. He won the Gold Cup championship ring with three engraved sailfish.
In third place was the Kalex, with Captain Alex Adler of Islamorada, with 19 releases. Kalex anglers were Anthony DelDuca of Naples, Fla., Ken Stiles of Fort Lauderdale, Brian Baugher of Fort Myers, Fla., and Jim Verner of Ocala, Fla.
Team earns $25,000 with triple-header
The Main Attraction team scored four sailfish releases during the one-day Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish Tournament to bring home the winner-take-all check for $25,000.
Anglers Ed Rice of Springfield, Mo., and Joe Majcherek of Delray Beach, Fla., hit a triple-header early in the morning of Jan. 24. Majcherek simultaneously fought and landed two of the sailfish while Rice captured and released the third.
Rice landed the team’s fourth by noon.
“Then the enemy was the clock,” said the 77-year-old Rice, who added that the level of competition and his age made the win particularly gratifying.
“Islamorada has some of the best fishermen in the world, so when you win it’s rare,” he said. “And at 77, I’m tickled to death to still be able to do it.”
The team fished with Capt. Marty Lewis out of Marathon. Fla.
Second place went to No Mercy, with Capt. Steve Cunningham of Miami at the helm. Anglers Rob Ruwitch and Rick Arnold, both of Miami, released four fish, but lost on time.
Third place went to Relentless with Capt. Paul Ross of Islamorada at the helm. Anglers Fenton Langston of Tallahassee, Fla., and Jimmy Hendrix of Islamorada released three sails.
Fifty anglers fishing from 25 boats released 45 sailfish from 86 hook-ups.
Northern family takes sailfish tournament
The big winner in the Holiday Isle Sailfish Tournament that ended Jan. 13 was the team aboard All Lit Up, captained by James Barnett and James Chappel, with mate Jeff Pietig.
Six fish were caught and released of Islamorada by anglers Greg Pietig, his daughter-in-law, Gina Boilini Pietig, and brother Douglas Pietig, all of Bloomington, Minn., and Mike Duggan of Miami Beach.
While Boilini Pietig had previously fished a ladies’ tournament, the Holiday Isle challenge was the first Florida tournament for her male teammates.
“We messed up and lost a lot of fish — it was a miracle we won,” said Greg Pietig.
He said the team was pumped up and always positive, and credited the knowledgeable captains for their win.
“They really know how to fish,” Greg Pietig said.
With only one release the first fishing day and one final morning, the Pietigs didn’t think they stood a chance of winning. Then they hooked up four sailfish within 90 minutes.
“We had three hooked up at one time going every direction,” said Pietig. “We had to decide which one was easier to catch.”
Also with a total of six sailfish, but lagging behind the Pietig team based on time of the final release, were Kyle Sherman and Debbie Austin of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Donnie Green of Tavernier, Fla. The trio won second place fishing aboard Adios with Capt. Vince Austin and mate David Madilas.
The third-place prize went to Matt McLean and Scott Dunnuck of Naples, Fla., and John Timura of Islamorada. The third-place team caught four sailfish aboard Shock & Awe with Capt. Robert Collins.
The tournament drew 56 anglers fishing aboard 21 boats. Collectively, they scored 79 hook-ups with 52 releases.
Nail-biting wait ends mackerel tourney
After catching a 55.21-pound king mackerel the first day of the two-day Hog’s Breath King Mackerel Tournament held the last weekend in January, the Salty Marine team spent Day 2 feverishly seeking a bigger fish.
Though their quest proved fruitless, they emerged the tournament winner, to the surprise of team captain, Donny Testa of Titusville, Fla.
“We saw the fish jump and it grabbed the bait, and we knew it was a big one,” said Testa of the first-day catch. “I actually didn’t think it was [big] enough.”
The fish was caught by Stan Hull of Titusville, but he credited the entire team that included Andy Dormois of Gotha, Fla., Chris Blum of Port Orange, Fla., and Justin Burgeen of Stuart, Fla.
Testa said his team was using blue runners in about 80 feet of water, 80 miles west of Key West when Hull got the bite. He reeled in what proved to be the winning fish after a 30-minute fight.
Team Rascal took second-place honors with a 50.43-pound kingfish. The team was composed of David Haynes of West Palm Beach, Fla., Tek Watts of Fort Lauderdale and Dean and Russell Spatholt of Calabash, N.C.
Greg Haskin, Bill Bradley, Gary McBride and his sons Ryan and Corey McBride of Lighthouse Point, Fla., took third place with a 50.09-pound fish caught on the Conched Out.
Fort Lauderdale’s Strictly Fishing team, consisting of Robert Kramer and Robert and Peter Weisberg, won the 23-foot-and-under boat division with a kingfish that weighed 37.29 pounds.
Sanctioned by the Southern Kingfish Association, the event attracted 127 angling teams.
Perfect weather for Swamp Guides Ball
When the Swamp Guides Ball tournament ended Jan. 26, Mark Cockerham of Islamorada, Fla., and Capt. Mark Gilman of Tavernier, Fla., took home the grand champion team award for catching one bonefish, five redfish and three snook.
Capt. Tad Burke, commodore of the Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association, presided over the event. He reported that the number of fish caught and released was more than double last year’s catch and credited the increase to near-perfect weather.
Tony Wells of Coral Springs, Fla., and Dave Pratt of Coconut Creek, Fla., won the first runner-up team award. Like Cockerham and Gilman, they brought in one bonefish and five redfish, but could only manage two snook.
The second runner-up team award went to Capt. Rick Miller of Islamorada and Stacey Telenzak of Delray Beach, Fla. Guided by Capt. Robert Klein of Islamorada, they caught four bonefish, one redfish and two snook.
The Swamp Guides Ball is a tournament for guides, put on by guides and fished by guides and their angler friends. Proceeds are donated to the Don Hawley Foundation that exists primarily to help Monroe County fishing guides during times of need.
The tournament attracted 61 two-
angler teams that caught and released 197 fish — 13 bonefish, 81 redfish and 103 snook — that met the minimum length of 20 inches.
Team repeats in women’s sailfish tourney
Debbie Watson of Plantation, Fla., and Kristin Kvenzle of Jupiter, Fla., released 15 sailfish in two days to take first-place honors in the Islamorada Women’s Sailfish Tournament for the second consecutive year.
“We’re really proud of ourselves being undefeated,” said Watson. “It was all about the teamwork.”
The duo fished on Reel McCoy with Capt. George McElveen of Islamorada. Using kites, McElveen looked for good color change in the water and a hard current to catch many of the sailfish.
“The girls each caught two at a time numerous times,” McElveen said. “The fish showed a lot of aggression.”
“We had a triple-header the minute our lines hit the water,” said Kvenzle, who praised the captain’s knowledge of sailfish “hot spots.”
Kvenzle also earned the individual high-point angler award for releasing eight sailfish, and admitted that her arms ached after reeling in so many fish in two days.
Second-place winners were Georgia Bell of Miami Beach, Fla., and high school sophomore Alexie Creary of Key Largo, Fla. Fishing aboard the Unleashed with Capt. Zane Albury of Key Largo, the team released seven sails and also caught blackfin tuna, kingfish and dolphin fish.
The Predator team took third-place honors. Capt. Augie Wampler of Islamorada led two mother/daughter-in-law pairs to the winners’ circle with six sailfish releases. The anglers included the captain’s mother, Sharon Wampler, and sister-in-law Sabrina Wampler, both of Islamorada, with Sharon Jones of Islamorada and Jenifer Jones of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The tournament hosted 60 female anglers aboard 25 boats. The participants scored 126 sailfish hook-ups and 92 releases.
Jersey team wins Flutie Over The Hill
The Killer White Team of New Jersey released three sailfish to win the Boomer Esiason Foundation 19th Annual Captain Al Flutie Over the Hill Rip-Off Sailfish Tournament held Jan. 22 in Islamorada waters.
The Killer White anglers are Roy and Tina Baldwin of Newfield, N.J., and Linda Butler of Williamstown, N.J.
Second place went to angler Arne Geroux of Bethan, Minn., aboard Hopalong.
Wet Dream took third place with anglers Kevin Clark of Islamorada, Dennis Delong of Dania Beach, Fla., and Jim Munn of Traverse City, Mich.
The top three teams each released three sailfish, so the ranking was based on the times the sailfish were released. All three teams fished off Conch Reef. Killer White’s and Wet Dream’s anglers drifted using kites with goggle eyes or blue runners, while Geroux on Hopalong trolled using ballyhoo.
The one-day tournament traditionally has been limited to anglers age 50 or older. The 2008 requirements were changed so younger anglers could participate, but rules still required that at least one angler on each team be older than 50.
The tournament attracted 53 anglers fishing from 19 boats. There were 34 hookups, 21 sailfish releases and six tagged fish.
Four to enter Bass Fishing Hall of Fame
Four legendary figures of bass fishing who have contributed greatly to the sport through education, angling achievements, innovations and communications will join 32 previously inducted men and women into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, Feb. 21.
The class of 2008 includes Charlie Campbell and Virgil Ward, both of Missouri, Nick Crème of Texas and Buck Perry of North Carolina, as the seventh group of inductees. Crème, Perry and Ward will be inducted posthumously.
Induction ceremonies Thursday, Feb. 21 will take place at the Hyatt Hotel in Greenville, S.C., the evening before the start of the 40th Bassmaster Classic’s three days of championship fishing on Lake Hartwell.
• Charlie Cambell developed the “Charlie Campbell CC Spinner Bait” and was instrumental in the design of the Bass Tracker boat for Bass Pro Shops.
• Nick Crème in 1949, created the first rubber worms on his kitchen stove which made a huge impact as it revolutionized bass fishing with artificial lures in the 1950s and ‘60s. — Buck Perry is widely acclaimed as the “father of structure fishing,” as he opened up America’s lakes and rivers to a different style of fishing than anyone had ever enjoyed. Before sonar, Perry was using his Spoonplugs and trolling tactics to catch deep water and offshore bass that others did not even know existed.
• Virgil Ward had one of the most popular TV showcases of bass fishing techniques for 27 years with his very successful Virgil Ward’s Championship Fishing Show. Syndicated nationally for 20 years, Ward‘s show attracted millions of fishing fans on 253 radio stations and his advice in 450 newspapers. www.bassfishinghof.com
Monofilament program encourages recycling
West Marine is partnering with Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program (MRRP) of Florida by placing fish line recycling bins at its Florida West Marine stores.
According to MRRP, it is estimated that monofilament fishing line will last in our oceans for 600 years and could potentially entangle numerous marine animals and even endanger boaters, divers and swimmers before it’s broken down.
To encourage anglers to recycle their fishing line, West Marine is launching a Fishing Club Card. When anglers recycle and spool their reels at any West Marine store, the sixth reel is free (bulk fishing line only).
The Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program (MRRP) is a statewide effort in Florida to educate the public on the problems caused by monofilament line left in the environment, to encourage recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations in Florida, and to conduct volunteer monofilament line cleanup events. www.fishinglinerecycling.org