Miami Swordfish Tournament Winners
Report Date: October 27, 2003
What a week we are wrapping up. We had some great people out during the week, but the fish treated them and us terribly. Surface action and fishing in general was tough during the day. We fished wrecks, we kite fished we ran offshore for dolphin, and it all left us lacking. We did catch some small tuna on jigs. We were having a good time with them on 4 and 6 pound spinners. I could spend the day catching 2 pound tuna on light tackle, but most anglers would like more than that. We caught our first cobia of the season. It was all of 6 or 7 pounds. That is far short of the 33 inch fork length required to keep them.
We had some Yankees fans out for a full day and a half day. Of course we know how their luck was running, but to spend all day without a fish is worse than any client or guide deserves. We had some great bottom fishing earlier in the week, with grouper and gray tile fish to 10 pounds coming fast and furious, so we offered that action to those poor guys from New York. We went to the places that were red hot on Tuesday and caught almost nothing.
Then things picked up. We went out in the evening to catch some bait for the 1st Miami Swordfish Tournament. While fishing for bait around an anchored ship, we found a school of tarpon. We caught a 60 pound tarpon on fly on the second cast. Ron was fishing a ?Leo? pilchard fly on a ten weight Penn outfit. After that catch it was time to head home.
The big event of the week was the 1st annual ?Miami Swordfish Tournament?. This was the accomplishment of Captain Richard Peeples. It was a 2 night event targeting only swordfish. It was a release tournament for swordfish under 60 inches, with the option to boat fish over 60 inches. The weather forecast was bad at the time for the captain?s meeting. Winds were to be 10 to 15 out of the NE Friday night and 20 out of the east on Saturday night. This reduced the entry to 25 boats instead of the 50 expected. The 25 were top notch fishermen, so completion would be strong.
The weather man was wrong. Friday night started out with NE wind of 15 to 20 and 6 to 8 foot seas where we all fish for swordfish, about 15 to 20 miles offshore. The severe weather required some daring and creative methods to keep the line down deep below the surface. The ?Double D? with Captain Dean Panos got things started with a release about 7 :50. 11 year old Martini Arostegui fishing with his father, Darrell Keith, mate Ron Cook and me aboard their 35 foot ?Timely Sale? caught and released a swordfish at about 8:15. Our trick to keep the baits down deep and our anglers in the boat, was to constantly back into the seas. The bad part was that the boat had a dive platform, and seas would break on it causing spray to cover the whole boat every few minutes. I sure missed my 33 foot Dusky, in which we would have drifted with a big sea anchor, allowing us to fish bow into the seas. Over the next few hours the fleet caught a total of 8 swordfish. At 1:30 we were blessed with a second swordfish caught by Marty Arostegui. That fish moved us from second place to 1st.
In the last half hour of fishing on the first night of the tournament, two more swords were hooked. One was shark bit and disqualified. The other was hooked by Peter Miller. He was fishing from the bow of the 53 foot Viking ?Get Lit?. That?s right he spent two pitch black nights hanging on by his toes to the foredeck of a rocking and pitching boat in his effort to win this event. He had already released one fish. This 1:50 AM hook up could boost their team to second place. If the fish was over 60 inches they could boat it for one point per pound. This meant that if it weighed 100 pounds plus even one ounce they could take the lead. About 2:30 Captain Ray Rosher reported the sad news that they got it up to the leader, failed to get a picture and lost the fish before determining if it was over 60 inches. They thought it was very close to the magic 60 inches.
The evening ended with ?Timely Sale? in first with 2 fish, ?Double D? in second with the first fish and seven others hot on the trail with one fish each.
Saturday the winds blew around 30 knots all day. Captains called each other all afternoon to discuss the idea of fishing or not in 15 foot seas. To beat ?Timely Sale? a boat would need a total of 3 fish or a combine score of weight fish plus releases of 200 points plus any amount. Swordfishing is considered hopeless in any kind of rough seas, but Friday night the fleet caught a total of 13, 10 qualified in rough seas, so swords could be caught under these terrible conditions. L&H, a 46 footer was first to head out fishing Saturday afternoon about 4:15. That set the fleet in action. By 6, ten boats were beating their way through 15 foot confused seas to the fishing grounds. About 7:20 the first boat, a 28 footer reported he was heading home. At about 7:25 we hooked a swordfish on ?Timely Sale?, but lost it a few minutes later. The ?Get Lit? with Peter Miller on the bow hooked up about 8. They got their release about 9. Tension was high aboard our boat, but with one team member very sea sick and others turning shades of green and constant drenching from the spray, our team leader Dr Marty Arostegui with input from assistant Joe Singer gave the orders to head home. We were all in favor of this decision. We got to the dock in time to listen to the ninth inning of our Florida Marlin?s World Series victory. We then chewed our finger nails till the fleet still fishing was down to two boats that had not caught a fish the first night and not had a bite the second night. We left our fate in their hands as we headed home. Sleep was hard to catch as I worried that one of these two great fishing teams would catch a big fish. One of them did get a bite, but no fish were hooked. The 43 foot ?Freedom? and 31 foot center console ?Hot Rods? headed home when the tournament hours ended at 2 AM.
Final results were ?Timely Sale? 1st with 2 releases, ?Get Lit? 2nd with 2 releases (time of release determines position in standings) and ?Double D? 3rd
With the first release of the tournament. All who fished this fine event were truly tested in seamanship and creativity to fish under the worst of conditions. Every captain showed the true spirit of the sea, as they checked the location and condition of each other through the duration of the tournament. The fellowship of fishermen shown throughout this event was probably the best reward this tournament had to offer.
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