Florida Keys Fishing Tournament Coverage
$25,000 Winner-Take-All Islamorada Fishing Club
Islamorada Sport Fishing
contributing writer John Geiger.
three New Jersey guys who make up the “Trashy Lady” fishing team know
the agony of defeat. Back in August, a hundred miles off South Jersey,
they had the winning fish hooked up during the high-stakes Mid-Atlantic
Fishing Tournament. The estimated 600-pound blue marlin would get them
$360,000 if they could just ease the giant close enough to gaff it.
Suddenly, the line broke. All went silent and the
more-than-quarter-million prize swam slowly back into the abyss.
hurt,” said Capt. Mike Walter, who runs the team’s 61-foot sport fisher,
called “Trashy Lady” after the owner’s former garbage-hauling business.
the team redeemed itself Friday by finishing at the top of the heap and
winning $25,000 in the winner-take-all Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish
the $25,000 they got is a fraction of the $360,000 they didn’t, team
members said they feel like a million bucks.
was a big relief to win this tournament,” said team member Mike Musarra,
an outboard repairman from Absecon, N.J. “The team deserved it.”
Angler and boat owner Glenn Miller, angler Mike Musarra, Capt. Walter,
and local mate Capt. Carlos Del Valle caught and released three sailfish
in the one-day, 25-boat tournament.
event pits some of the best live-bait fishermen in a fight for the most
sailfish in just eight hours of fishing. It too is a high-stake
tournament since each team puts up $1,000 just to fish it.
there’s no second place. First gets $25,000. No one else gets a penny.
“Trashy Lady” got its last fish of the day at 10 a.m. The first two fish
were released in less than 10 minutes. But the third sailfish gave a
knew we needed that fish, that it was a big catch for the team,” said
fish had the upper hand most of the fight. It dove deep and led the
61-foot boat into deep water. The fight dragged on for nearly an hour.
That’s precious time in a short tournament like this one. Walter put the
boat in reverse and backed down on the fish, trying to let Del Valle
reach out and touch the leader, which would make the catch official. The
fish stayed out of reach.
one point, Musarra had the fish alongside the boat. But the big sailfish
pulled hard and took off yet again.
watched the line go from the reel and it was like it didn’t stop,” he
said. “It was a real tough fish, especially on only 12-pound test line.”
Musarra eventually won the fight and Del Valle released the team’s third
fish. They celebrated their catch and their sweep into first place. But
hours remained and excellent captains were right behind them on the
other boats nearly canned the “Trashy Lady.” Veteran skipper, Skip
Nielsen, and angler Bill Blakely on the “Billfishing” caught three
sailfish as did the crew of the “Reel Pleasure.”
was terrible out there,” said Walter. “Everytime you heard that radio,
you thought it was one of those captains calling in a catch. If they
caught another, we’d have to catch two more to top them. It was
touch-and-go for awhile there.”
“Nerve-wracking,” said Musarra. “We even watched the “Reel Pleasure”
catch two fish right next to us. The best part of the day was when they
called ‘lines out’.”
the end of the day, the 25 teams caught 29 sailfish. The “Trashy Lady”
eked out a win and was on the top of the heap.
great to win this one, especially because there’s no second place,” said