A school of Yellowtail Snapper. Some of the other fish we catch in the Florida Keys areTuna, Wahoo, Blue & White Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Dolphin (Mahi Mahi), Sharks, Kingfish, Mutton Snapper, King Mackerel, Grouper, Cobia, Tarpon and more.

Florida Keys fishing in Islamorada. Offshore and backcountry sportfishing at it's finest in the heart of the Florida Keys. Aptly named: "The Sport Fishing Capital Of The World!"

Offshore Charter Boats
Backcountry Flats Guides



Sport Fishing Home
Fishing Books & Videos
Fishing Tournament Coverage
Fishing Photo Gallery
Fishing How To's & Articles
Fishing Reports
Fishing Video
Fishing News
Ask the Captain Forum
Fishing Classified Forum
Tournament Listings
The Fish
Tide Tables
Artificial Reefs
Florida Keys Fishing Links
Weather in the Florida Keys
Fish ID (PDF)
Fishing Regulations (PDF)
Contact Us

 Florida Keys Directory

Offshore Charter Boats
Backcountry Flats Guides
Bait & Tackle
Boat Rentals
Boat Ramps
Area Maps
Where to eat
Where to stay
Night Spots

Florida Keys Fishing Tournament Coverage

$25,000 Winner-Take-All Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish Tornament
By Islamorada Sport Fishing
contributing writer John Geiger.

The 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.

“That 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.

But 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 2003.

While the $25,000 they got is a fraction of the $360,000 they didn’t, team members said they feel like a million bucks.

“It 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.

This 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.

And 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 Hollywood fight.

“We knew we needed that fish, that it was a big catch for the team,” said Musarra.

The 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.

At one point, Musarra had the fish alongside the boat. But the big sailfish pulled hard and took off yet again.

“I 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 scoreboard. 

Two 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.”

“It 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’.”

At 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.

“It’s great to win this one, especially because there’s no second place,” said Del Valle.