The 2011 Megadock Billfish Series was one to remember. I was fishing The Ballistic, a 58- foot Viking owned by Hutch Holesberg, President of Key West Boats. We woke up early at 3:30 am to discover that the conditions were not favorable for any of us and it was supposed to be our alternate fishing day. At 3:45 am the fishing day was called off due to a small craft advisory. Not a good feelling! I remained in my cabin, sucking my thumb and rocked myself back to sleep. “There is no crying in fishing,” I said to myself. That happened to be the case for somewhere in the neighborhood of 26 boats. We were stuck at the dock, sulking a little, but picked ourselves up by our boot straps and celebrated at the awards ceremony for the ones who deserved the win and that happened to Full Pull.
Full Pull, a 57-foot sportsfisher won a whopping $90,185 with four sailfish and one white marlin and 1100 points. It was a sight to see the big cardboard check on the back of their golf cart the next morning! They had every reason to celebrate and did so in southern fashion with a redneck twist. I watched the festivities from a distance and smiled quietly as I saw things done with an outrigger I have never seen before. Some pictures are best not shared with the public. The dock remained quiet for some and rowdy for others, including The Cacique, who came in a respectable 2nd place with five sailfish and 1000 points and $78,600 in their pocket!
Freeman “my little engine that could” a 33-foot twin outboard catamaran, came out with $7500 in their pocket for the 40 foot and under. The seas were just too much for them to fish the 2nd day on Saturday but I have a feeling that if they had fished the leaderboard may have varied a bit from what we are seeing. Super nice guys and hope to see them at other tournaments in the future.
I had the pleasure of sharing a big plate of winning nachos, Virginia BBQ and a stiff crown and coke to celebrate the win with my new buddies from The Cacique after the awards ceremony and were told some stories of their past fishing adventures, from some of the best fisherman around. These Virginia boys travel around the world in their World Class 64-foot Viking to fish tournaments and have made quite a name for themselves. Last year, The Bite Magazine put them on the front cover for their amazing catch of fifty six white marlin in ONE DAY!
The Cacique has a well organized team that consists of Papa Smurf..aka “The Chief”, Roostah, Oompah Loompah, “The Captain”, Slippery and the Big Kahunas. They all have the alter egos to fit there names. There next big billfish tournament is Pirates Cove in August and I have been asked to be their Lady Angler. What an honor! I don’t know if I can stop laughing long enough to fight the fish properly with this crew! Sadie Beth came to join us and had a little extra money in their pocket…$2,900 to be precise, from a 12.9 tuna. There is great comradery amongst these guys and I love and appreciate that. In hindsight, I should have asked to play a little poker with them! I was feeling like a winner myself.
I had lunch with the owner of the Frenzy on Saturday (considering we couldn’t fish) and talked extensively about his billfish conservation methods and study of their migratory habits in Costa Rica. Frenzy from Frenzy Sportsfishing, which is owned by Jamie Walker, has been catching billfish on a fly for years and has become extremely efficient at this game. He ended up in 4th position for billfish in The Megadock after fishing on Friday and chose Saturday as his 2nd day, which was cancelled. He pocketed $8,500 which is not bad for a day at the office! I am hoping to see firsthand Jamie’s method of tracking these billfish and catching them on a fly. His resort, The Casa Carolina, is mesmerizing from the photos but I must see it in person to fully appreciate it.
There was only one change in the meatfish categories , a 39.6 pound dolphin caught by Blue Sky. Rodeo has top tuna at 21.4 pounds and El Tejano has the top wahoo at 42.4 pounds. The following report just goes to show that it is important to enter into the calcuttas.
An honorable mention was given to James Ambrose aboard The Quadzeus, a 60-foot Hatteras, for a 34.1 pound dolphin. James who suffers from spina bifida and is wheelchair bound, caught this dolphin on a practice day and was his first time fishing. He was prompted to do so by an organization called Anchors Away. which is headed by Ashley Alderman, the director of development. She has provided these anglers with disabilities a custom fishing chair or a customized bean bag to fish from. There organization is amazing and inspiring to those who have just recently become disabled or have suffered from a life long injury as well as those who are fortunate enough to be healthy.
Ballyhoo Conservation Award, the first ever of it’s kind in a Billfish Tournament, was given to a fella by the name of Shane Lawton, for eating a ground up ballyhoo pesto sandwich. This brave soul did this in honor of an organization called Hunt for Life, another wonderful non-profit organization that allows children with life threatening illnesses to fish, hunt and enjoy the outdoors. I have had a blast hanging out with these kids and love their positive outlook on life that they have flourished through the world of fishing.
The awards ceremony was celebrated with music and a wonderful prime rib dinner that was prepared on a smoker served with homemade mashed potatoes and a flavorful au ju provided to us by Jim and Nick’s Catering. I met some wonderful artists and other vendors that have become a little family of mine as they seem to work all the tournaments with me including Jarrett Boatworks and Marc Ray Studios ( a wonderful marine life artist) and Hunt for Life.
A big thank you shout out must go to McKenzie Hutaff, tournament director for The Megadock, for helping us out with our sponsorship and doing such a wonderful job during this tournament and keeping things organized.
It was hard to say goodbye to such a wonderful crew aboard The Ballistic. Made some good friends over the week and was inspired by a young lady by the name of Al who is going for her Masters Degree in Marine Biology in August at The Guy Harvey Research Institute based at The Oceanographic Center of Nova Southeastern University of Florida. She was a trooper out there, had a sharp wit and eager to learn. I hope to see here in October at the Ocean Foundation Banquet
Lex Melfi, with Guy Harvey Sand Carved Glass made an appearance to show his new piece that measures over 4’x3′. It was a pleasure to have him come to the event and enjoy himself a little away from the sand carving booth. We had a silent auction for the Octopus Sand Carving along with other donations. Guy Harvey Magazine donated a copy of the mag to all crew members and a 1 yr. free subscription to all winners of every category. Since the magazine just celebrated their 1 yr. anniversary, a lot of these guys are seeing it for the first time. The feedback was incredible. They loved the art and felt that the articles were very informative. I was proud to be there to represent them!
I am sure that I will see a lot of my new found friends at The Edisto Billfish Tournament in a couple of weeks. They are estimating over 2000 people will be there to watch the tournament. Time to put on my game face on withThe Sadie Beth and my new crew.