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Florida Keys Fishing Tournament Coverage

Islamorada Swordfish Tournament
By Islamorada Sport Fishing
contributing writer John Geiger.

You’ve got the wide open sea before you, and you need to catch swordfish. Where do you start?

Capt.. Randy Towe let water temperature be his guide. A steamy 87-degree pocket turned out to be the hot spot as his team beat 22 others to win the second annual Islamorada Swordfish Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

In about 2,000 feet of water, his angling team caught seven swordfish over the two-night tournament for 726.2 points. Two of those game fish were more than 60 inches, jaw to fork, so they could be weighed in. The heavier tipped the scales at 122 pounds, the other 105.

Although they were not the heaviest of the tournament, the combined points for the five releases and two weighed fish gave the team an edge over the second-place team, the red-hot, Miami-based “Get Lit” fishing team, which finished with 527 points.

“They area a great bunch of fishermen,” said Towe. And I’m glad we pulled it off, he said.

Ironically, with thousands of nautical miles in the Straits of Florida to choose from, the two expert teams ended up fishing near each other during most of the 15 hours of fishing time.

Towe on his custom “Quit Yer Bitchin’” and Capt. John Mulcahy on the renown “Get Lit” fished about 36 miles out in some of the warmest water in the Straits.

“The warmer the water the better,” said Towe. “Some nights you don’t find it and you have no choice. But if you can find that higher temperature, it’s a good barometer where you should start fishing.”

The teams did not make long drifts, but stayed about 3 or 4 miles from the warm water..  A southeasterly wind slowed their Florida Current float to about 1.5- to 2 knots and kicked up some chop.

The tournament started at 7:30 p.m. Friday. After lines out was called at 3:30 a.m., “Get Lit” was in first with five swordfish. Towe’s team hooked up with had five, but lost two in the fights. On the second night, Towe’s team hooked up with five and landed or released all of them. One of those was the 121-pounder.

“Get Lit” got skunked.

On Towe’s boat were New Jersey anglers Dennis Dering, who caught three, and 13-year-old Dennis Dering Jr., who caught two and won top junior angler award. Robert “Skinny” Morrison, of Islamorada, served as mate and third angler, and caught two swords, one of which was the 121-pounder. 

The heaviest swordfish of the tournament -- a 160-pounder -- was weighed at Holiday Isle Marina by the Naples-based team on the “Shock and Awe.” Second heaviest was a 154.8-pounder caught on the “Miss Britt” out of Miami.

Top skipper was Towe and top mate was Morrison.

Top angler was Peter Miller on the “Get Lit.” He caught three swords..

In total 22 boats, caught 30 swordfish. Twenty-three were released and seven weighed in. Each release counted for 100 points. Legal-sized swordfish weighed in counted for 1 point per pound. 

Last year, the “Get Lit” team won second place. Capt. Ray Rocher was at the helm when the team caught three swordfish to win top angler and most releases..

But the team winner in 2004 was Islamorada Capt. George Mitchell’s team on “Snake Dancer.” They caught and released three swordfish, and weighed in a 121-pounder.

The Islamorada tournament is the first leg of the three-tournament Florida Swordfish Series. The second leg is the Miami Swordfish Tournament set for Sept, 15. A third tournament is planned for the West Palm Beach area. In addition to cash prizes in each tournament, the series winner could pocket as much as $30,000, tournament organizers said.