The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament - 2003
The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament

The winning hand is 4 Aces in record breaking 50th Annual Islamorada Sailfish Tournament

Rough seas and windy conditions would lead to great sailfish action in the 50th Anniversary of the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament. 330 Sailfish were released out of the 356 called in hook ups over the three day event and over $78,000.00 was paid out to the winners. Captain John Dudas led anglers Peter and Christian Adrian of Miami FL, fishing with Jeffery Liederman of Key Biscayne FL, and Robbie Ramirez from Miami FL, to the winner’s circle. The team, fishing aboard the 4 Aces, released a record total of 34 Sailfish over the three day event. Captain "Wild" Bill Wichrowski of the fishing vessel Cape Caution from the Discovery Channel television show, ‘Deadliest Catch,’ presented the beautiful sailfish end tables sponsored by Caribee Boat Sales and Yamaha Outboards. Tackle Center of Islamorada sponsored a table for high point captain John Dudas. The team also won over $40,000.00 in prize money.

The first day of the tournament got off to a rough start for the Close Call. One of the two engines would blow a turbo as they were leaving the bait patch. Captain Scott Stoky acted quickly contacting Captain Greg Eklund from Bud N Mary’s Marina. The team would call the committee boat asking permission to come back in and fish aboard Captain Greg’s Cloud Nine. Permission was granted and the team went out and released 7 fish putting them in 4th place at the end of the day.

Captain Scott Stanczyk of the charter boat Catch 22 would release the first sailfish of the tournament at 8:42 on Friday morning. This would be a day of multiple hook ups and releases. Catch 22 anglers would release a quadruple of Sails within 56 minutes. But the day would be a battle between Captain Taylor Walsh at the helm of the Bodacious and the 4 Aces. With a triple header of Sails at 3:46 the 4 Aces would come out on top at the end of the day with 12 releases. Day two would blow in more Sails as seas ranged from 6 to 8 feet. Catch 22 would be the high hook that day with 11 releases but consistency paid for the 4 Aces as they released 10 Sails. Day three would find the wind still blowing from the east as Viva La Vida, last year’s winners, would try to stage a comeback. The team released 11 Sails but 4 Aces would once again release 12 for the day.

Catch 22 anglers Kevin Clark and Sam Worden both from Traverse City, MI, fishing with Mike Slocum of Philadelphia PA, would wind up in second place. Captain Scott Stanczyk with the help of mates Hunter Barron and Sam Worden would release 6 fish the first day, 11 the second and 6 fish on the final day. The Catch 22 would take home second place trophies, sponsored by Mercedes Benz of Cutler Bay, and a check for $17,658.00 with a total of 23 releases.

It would be the team Close Call with Captains Scott Stoky and Greg Eklund on Greg’s Cloud Nine that would land in third place. Anglers Matt Maier and Tyler Carr both from Pike Rose, AL along with Rick Willis of Montgomery AL would each release their first ever Sailfish. Close Call’s owner Randy Hamilton of Orange Beach AL, invited the trio to fish with him and anglers Frank Juliano from Ft. Lauderdale FL, and Ben Ekblom from Tavernier, FL. With the help of Mate Jordan Wolk the team would release 7 fish the first day, 4 the second and 9 the final day. They were awarded the Mangrove Mike’s Café sponsored Sailfish trophies.

The prestigious Bill Hirni Memorial Trophy and a stunning King Sailfish Mount trophy would go to High Point angler Peter Adrian aboard the 4 Aces with a total of 16 Sails released. Angler Debbie David would win the Top Lady Angler award sponsored by Print Source, with her six releases aboard the Relentless. Junior angler and first time tournament fisherman Christian Adrian fishing with his father aboard the 4 Aces would land the first place junior trophy sponsored by Tackle Center of Islamorada, with 12 Sailfish releases.

Beautiful glass trophies from Sandstorm Art Studio sponsored by Coral Bay Marina would go to the team aboard the Challenger2 for most tagged fish. Captain Rob Dixon with mate/anglers Jessie LeBeouf and Dan Flynn both of Tavernier FL, would tag 6 sails on time for anglers Brian DeVries and Kyle Bradley from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

After the first day of fishing the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament held a special 50th Anniversary party at Bud N Mary’s Marina out back at Sparrow’s Nest. The event was open to the public and many "old timers" came to watch the slide show, and enjoy the food and drink put out by the Islamorada Charter Boat Association. A special presentation of old trophies, newspaper and magazine articles were on display for all to enjoy. Tournament Director Dianne Harbaugh said the party was “everything I hoped it would be. I just wanted people to come and enjoy some great camaraderie after the day of fishing. We are still collecting pictures and articles for future events.”

The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is the first leg of the Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship. The Catch 22 is currently in the lead with 23 fish. Second place in the Gold Cup is the Close Call with 20 releases and third is the Viva La Vida with 19 releases. The next leg of the series is the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament January 16th thru 18th. The champions will be crowned at the Islamorada Fishing Clubs Sailfish Tournament on January 23rd 2014.

99 Anglers fishing aboard 25 Boats competed in the event. “The fire at Whale Harbor closing both restaurants that the tournament uses was quite a blow two weeks before the event,” stated Dianne Harbaugh. "Whale Harbor went above and beyond under the circumstances with a huge tent out back and spectacular food served up for both the kick off and awards banquets. I cannot express my gratitude to Howard Brody and his staff for doing such an amazing job." The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is the primary fund raiser for the Islamorada Charter Boat Association. The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament will continue the fight to preserve and protect the fabulous fishing in the Florida Keys.

Don’t miss the 51st Annual Islamorada Sailfish Tournament
December 4th thru 7th 2014!!!