BILLFISH TOURNAMENT HOSTS RECORD
BREAKING YEAR FOR FISH CAUGHT
FUNDS RAISED FOR MARINE CONSERVATION
its 23rd year, the Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish
Tournament presented by Berkley concluded another
successful fishing tournament and triumphant fundraiser for marine
conservation! The 2005 tournament produced a winning weekend for
everyone! Held at the Miami Beach Marina on SouthBeach in Florida, 469 anglers on 105
boats fished for over $187,000 in cash, plus valuable prizes and
trophies! Thanks to its anglers and sponsors, this non-profit
organization donated close to $52,000 to area marine conservation
organizations including groups such as The Billfish Foundation,
Florida Keys Marine Laboratory, Costal Conservation Association (CCA)
and University of Miami’s RosenstielSchool and Experimental
weekend started with a bang and never slowed down! With 554 fish
caught in 2 ½ days of fishing, this year’s tournament broke all
headed out with observers onboard Friday morning, April 8th,
filled with the excitement of possibly winning big money and prizes.
Some anglers were after the $5,000 top Dolphin or $5,000 top
Kingfish and others after the glory of being the Top Team in the
Lowrance Team Division! Despite violent morning storms, the fleet
caught and released 100 sailfish by . Scott Shane on Scatterbrain
released the first fish caught in the tournament winning him $1,000.
At day’s end, there were 124 fish caught, and the husband and wife
team, Esther and Walter Vasquez on the Freedom,
took the lead with eight sailfish releases for 1,600 points. Sea
Hunter was second with five releases, and a battle ensued
between the third through sixth place boats, Scatterbrain,
Rodholder, Capt. Gas and Cutting Edge
all with four releases each. Fun Fish brought to the scales were
also in abundance. Howard Tharp on Reward
Won brought in the heaviest Kingfish for the day at 45.19
lbs... Jack Agramonte on Jichi,
brought in a 33 lb. Tuna,
and Troy Carlis, aboard Milly's
Angler,showed off a 26.20 Dolphin.
the anglers were fighting their fish, huge crowds gathered on the
baywalks and enjoyed the free daily dock parties, Fun Fish weigh-ins
and the festivities. The weather broke to reveal a picture perfect
evening, which continued through the rest of the weekend. Making the
evening even more enjoyable, Budweiser, and Bacardi Girls served up
plenty of smiles to thirsty fisherman and spectators. Artist and
craftsmen lined the baywalk, along with exhibitors selling and
raffling off an abundance of freebies, while local conservation
organizations promoted their cause. To top it off, Hooters pleased
hungry fishermen and the crowd by serving up their famous wings for
all to enjoy.
two brought new resolve and fierce competition among the anglers as
they set out for the hunt. With the bite on, everyone still had a
chance to be a part of the running, but even strong determination
couldn’t slow the momentum of team Freedom
skippered by John Louie Dudas. Freedom
was able to release another seven sailfish, bringing their total to
fifteen. Boat owner Walter Vasquez of Coral Gables, Florida, held a strong lead
for top angler with nine of the fifteen releases. His wife, Esther
Vasquez, and teammate Roy Huff caught the balance of the fish. Not
far behind, the Miss
Britt, skippered by Alex Castellanos, had now released 10
sailfish with team member Cindy Shufflebarger taking the lead for
top lady angler. Holding on, Rodholder
took third with nine releases. To add to the excitement, Tripper
White, onboard Barefoot,
caught a Spearfish and Miguel Murias, on Wicked,
caught a Blue Marlin. At days end, the 105 boats competing had now
brought the total billfish caught to 204 in only two days with
another half day of fishing to enjoy.
the Funfish division, competition was still fierce. Although no one
brought in any Kingfish or Dolphin heavier than those from day one,
Troy Carlis aboard Milly’s Angler
was able to add his name to the top Wahoo category, while still
holding the lead for top Dolphin. Sandra Kirkpatrick on Sandman
was able to take the lead for top Tuna with a 34.10lb.
evening wrapped up with Contender Boats’ Saturday night BBQ. The
docks were packed with happy anglers and
their families, along with throngs of people from South Florida, all enjoying
hospitality Contender style!
excitement in the air, the last day kicked off with a whopping 61
fish in 60 minutes! Total fish for the tournament would then jump to
an incredible 554 fish. Although it seemed as if fish were waiting
for the anglers to arrive, it looked as if no one might take the
lead from Freedom.
with teammates Ray Rodriguez, Reggie Rodriguez, MaxTower
and Scott Alvarez, were able to edge out the Get
Lit for second place with 16 releases and 3,200 points.
This brought team Rodholder
winnings of $12,630 for the Pot of Gold, Dynamite Daily and second
place team. Get
Lit in third with teammates Kitt Toomey, Peter Miller,
Jan Cooper and Charmain Rosher was able to capture the 5K Hook-up
for $29,750 plus $10,267.50, bringing their overall winnings to
$40,017.50 for the Pot of Gold, Dynamite Daily and third place team.
Britt was fourth with 15 fish released, while keeping
Cindy Shufflebarger as top Lady Angler and second place angler.
the day closed, team Freedom
took the tournament with 11 more sailfish released, bringing their
final score to 26 sailfish releases and 5,200 points Friday through
Sunday. Boat owner Walter
Vazquez of Miami
accounted for 13 of those releases cinching the title of Top Angler.
His wife, Esther Vasquez, able to take second place Lady Angler,
while John Louie Dudas captured Top Captain and Roy Huff took Top
Mate. The rest of the team included Carlos Larrieu and Manny Diaz.
Together they took home a whopping $93,145 in prize money, of which
$30,000 was awarded for taking the Shelly
Realty Libertad Challenge. Other awards included Lowrance
Top Angler, the Yale Mortgage Grand
Angler, Hook & Tackle Dynamite Daily
and Saltwater Sportsman’s Fifth Place Angler. It was all the team
could do to up hold their many checks for photos.
the Fun Fish Division, Troy Carlis on Milly’s
Angler took home $1,000 for the heaviest Wahoo at 14.90
lbs... Rafi Montalvo also took home $1,000 for the heaviest Tuna at
40.40 lbs., while Howard Tharp won Blanchard Machinery’s Top
Kingfish and $5,000 with a 45.19 lb fish, and Angel Velez won Kiss
Country’s Top Dolphin and $5,000 with a 33.30 lb. fish. The honor
of the Capt. Harry’s Fishing Supply Top Family Funfish Boat went
Fun Fish Angler awards went to Joshua Sehvlin, Rafi Montalvo, Jr.,
Manuel Fernandez, Jr., Jeffrey Fiorentino, with Junior Master Angler
going to Jorge Sanchez on Priceless.
Eight year old Macky Pesch on JV
came in third, but also captured the Youngest Junior to Catch a Fish
award for the second year in a row, with three sails and a 10.10 lb.
addition to all the excitement in this record breaking year, another
milestone was reached for the tournament as Gary Lawson, fishing on
Center, released the 4000th billfish in the
Tournament’s history at 11:29am Sunday winning him $500 for the
all, close to $52,000 was raised and donated to area marine
conservation organizations, fulfilling the Yamaha Contender Miami
Billfish Tournament’s mission to promote awareness and support
marine enhancement, education and