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Fishing Notes – Florida & the South

Report released onstatus of fisheries

NOAA recently released a report on the status of U.S. marine fisheries for 2005. The government report shows both progress in rebuilding overfished species and response of fisheries managers to slow fishing rates for species that were found to have above-target harvests.

Each year NOAA announces the state of U.S. fisheries to inform Congress and the American public of the agency’s progress in restoring fish stocks to sustainable population levels. The annual report tracks both population levels and harvest rates for species caught in federal marine waters, between three and 200 miles off U.S. coasts.

In 2005 NOAA scientists determined population levels for 206 fish stocks and multispecies groupings known as complexes. Of these, 152 (74 percent) were not overfished. NOAA scientists also determined the harvest rates for 237 stocks and found that 192 (81 percent) were not subject to overfishing.

This year’s report is of special interest as Congress works to strengthen the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which has governed management of America’s fisheries for 30 years. On June 19 the Senate passed its version of the Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization bill.

Big Adventure sweeps with 692-pound marlin

The Fourth Annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin was held at Sandestin’s Baytowne Marina in Destin, Fla., June 20 to 25. Seventy-seven boats and 391 anglers from locations as far away as Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico competed for a record $1,030,900.

Big Adventure, a 60-foot Bonner out of Orange Beach, Ala., captained by Jimmy Waller, swept the Marlin Categories with a 692.6-pound blue marlin. The marlin, caught by Sean McClellan of Orange Beach, Ala., measured 121.5-inches and was the only qualifying marlin of the tournament. Big Adventure took home $371,181.67, an amount that exceeds the overall tournament purse awarded four years ago in the inaugural event.

“When we registered 77 teams and topped $1 million in cash awards, I knew it was going to be a great year,” says Shawna Meisner, tournament director. “But for the tournament to reach this milestone in only four years of existence is phenomenal.”

Forty-six billfish were released including 15 blue marlin, 29 white marlin and two sailfish; 102 gamefish were caught: 53 dolphin, 20 yellowfin tuna and 29 wahoo. All of the fish weighed during the tournament were donated to Harvest House, a local food bank.

The top dolphin, 53.1 pounds, was caught by James Justice fishing aboard Fly By, a 74-foot Viking captained by Marco Gaona; the top yellowfin tuna, 170.3 pounds, was caught by Dennis Pasentine fishing aboard his 60-foot Hatteras First Choice; and the top wahoo; 89.5 pounds, was caught by Brad Cole fishing aboard the 58-foot G&S Mollie with Capt. Jeff Shoults.

Reel Addiction, a 56-foot Viking captained by Robert Davis was the top Release Team with three blue marlin releases. Tammy Jackson, fishing aboard Annie Girl, a 62-foot Resmondo with Capt. Mike Rowell was the Top Lady Angler and Billy Blount III, fishing aboard the 82-foot Hatteras Trader’s Hill with his dad at the wheel was the Top Junior Angler.

In addition to donating meatfish to the Harvest House, the ECBMC supports The Billfish Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the conservation and enhancement of billfish populations worldwide, by donating cash funds raised through raffles, auctions and other activities.

Texas angler triumphs in tarpon challenge

Leslie Duncan of Houston was named grand champion at the Women’s World Invitational Fly Championship, Tarpon Series, which ended June 16 in Islamorada.

Duncan released six fish over the tournament’s three days of fly fishing. Only tarpon measuring a minimum of 48 inches were counted for points; all anglers used 16-pound tippets.

Fishing with captain Bill Knowles of Islamorada, Duncan scored with three tarpon on the first day of fishing, then built on her lead with one fish on Day 2 and two fish on Day 3.

Sue Moret of Islamorada was first runner-up, releasing four tarpon while fishing with Captain Craig Brewer of Islamorada.

Second runner-up was Kathy Hoar of Hanover, Pa. Fishing with Captain Tad Burke of Islamorada, Hoar released two fish, beating Sue Latella of Pittsburgh, Pa., on time.

60-pounder brings win in swordfish tournament

Angler Andy Green and the Tightlines team won Key West’s one-night Southernmost Swordfish Tournament June 18, in the surrounding waters.

At 9:24 p.m. June 17, Green released a swordfish estimated to weigh 60 pounds while fishing with Captain Jim Thomas on Tightlines.

Green’s teammate, Lower Keys angler Jay McCabe, hooked up about 20 minutes after Green’s release, but pulled the hook on his swordfish close to the boat.

Green’s release ultimately earned the Tightlines team $1,000 cash as well as prizes in the swordfish challenge.

Angler Jay Miller of Key West and Captain Brice Barr’s Double Down won second place and $500 cash. Miller released his fish, estimated at 20 pounds, at 10:47 p.m.

While Miller and Green each earned 100 points for their releases, tournament rules state that, in case of a tie, the winner is determined by time.

The Southernmost Swordfish Tournament, which drew 37 anglers fishing on nine boats, is part of the annual Key West Fishing Tournament that runs through Nov. 30, and is open to the general public. More than 40 species of fish are targeted during the Key West Fishing Tournament, with divisions for men, women, junior anglers (ages 10 to 14 years) and Pee Wees (younger than 10).

Duo nets $28,000 prize at dolphin tournament

Twenty-eight boats sought the prize that only one could win — a check for $28,000.

Anglers Dick Niaze of Key Colony Beach, Fla., and Pete Manndering of Clarkston, Mich., weighed in three dolphin totaling 77.3 pounds to catch the winner-take-all $28,000 prize at the 2006 Islamorada Fishing Club Captain’s Cup Dolphin Tournament.

The team fished with Captain Skip Bradeen aboard Blue Chip Too, out of Whale Harbor Marina in Islamorada.

Second place went to the charter boat Skipper, also out of Whale Harbor Marina. Captain Paul O’Donnell led anglers Hal Sorin and Tyler Presincinski, both of Islamorada, to dolphin totaling 64.7 pounds.

Third place went to Craig VanSant of Long Key, Fla., and Bill Keller of Philadelphia, Pa. Fishing with Captain Brian Cone aboard Contagious, out of Papa Joe’s Marina in Islamorada, the team weighed in dolphin totaling 60.9 pounds.