Pelican Tournament fishermen clean record book

FORT PIERCE — Joe Lehner reflected Saturday afternoon on the most amazing week of sailfish action anyone in Florida has ever experienced.

Despite being the owner of the Pelican Yacht Club Invitational Billfish Tournament’s winning team, and celebrating his fifth Treasure Coast Sailfish Championship, both in record fashion during a record-smashing week of fishing, Lehner’s take was more sentimental.

“My tournament fishing isn’t about trophies or records,” said Lehner, 56, of Stuart. “It’s all about making memories.”

And a week like this left everyone who fished for sailfish with some incredible memories.

The 32nd annual Invitational saw a number of records shattered.

First of all, the fleet of 29 boats finished with a combined 736 sailfish releases, bettering its previous best of 408 set by 29 boats in 2010.

Second, the winning boat, Bone Shaker, led by Capt. Scott Fawcett, 36, of Jensen Beach, owned by Lehner and including anglers Sky Wichers, 18, and Van Wichers, 15, of Stuart, and mates Kyle Francis and James Turner, set a new record for total catch with 57, besting Lo Que Sea’s 38 set in 2010.

Third, the single-day record for one boat in the tournament fell twice during the week and is now 27, which was set Friday by Lo Que Sea, led by Capt. Glenn Cameron of Fort Pierce and with anglers Tony Huerta of Orlando and Bill Gingell.

Many lesser notable records fell, too, but the 736 long will be remembered as the standard for a sailfish tournament in Florida waters featuring dead bait methods of fishing.

At least until that record is, too, broken one day, Lehner said.

“The records are nice, but they fall,” Lehner said. “You can’t take away the memories.”

Lehner always will remember how aggressively the sailfish fed this week, especially Friday afternoon in a spot where he and the Wichers racked up 12 catches in 44 minutes.

Lehner will remember when his team hooked three sailfish, but when the sailfish swam under and across the path of an ocean-going tug and barge, the team worked a miracle to wind up with one.

He’ll remember the fun, the camaraderie, the teamwork and the excitement of trying to battle dozens of friends and competitors during epic conditions.

“There are so many great boats, captains, crews and anglers,” he said. “It’s so much fun going against Cowpoke, Big Oh, Lo Que Sea, Sea Check, Outlaw. They’re all our friends. When we’re not doing well, we want them to.”

On Saturday, just 12 of the 29 boats fished because tournament rules allow boats to fish three of four days. Bone Shaker was finished for the tournament and had a 30-fish lead, but Lehner said his team was still far from confident.

“We laughed thinking we may have chosen the wrong lay day,” he said. “Amazing to think that with that big of a lead, the fishing was such and the talent out there could have pulled it off.”

But the fishing did slow. The 12 caught 66 sailfish, led by 12 fish caught by the team aboard Gotham, led by Capt. Kevin Paul. Cowpoke and Big Oh each had eight enabling Bone Shaker to defend its Treasure Coast Sailfish Championship title.

In the Championship, Bone Shaker wound up with a record 86 sailfish, crushing its own record of 73 set a year ago in the three-tournament series.

Cowpoke led by Capt. Mike Brady of Fort Pierce with owners Cruiser Crews and Cristy Crews of Avon Park, and anglers Chester Chambers, Greg Jones and Dave Myer, finished in second for the second straight year with 75.

The Palm Beach boat Big Oh with Capt. Ronnie Fields and anglers Gray Ingram, Page Robertson, Watson Caviness and Jimmy Fields finished third with 72.

Bone Shaker entered the week trailing Big Oh by 14 fish and won despite recording one zero fish day in the Light Tackle Sailfish Tournament.

It was the fifth Championship victory for Lehner as an angler/owner and third for Fawcett as skipper of the Bone Shaker.

In the 75th Silver Sailfish Derby out of West Palm Beach, which finished its three-day run Saturday, the fleet of 46 boats set a world record for a billfish tournament with a combined total catch of 1,174 sailfish releases. The world’s oldest sailfish tournament was won by Get Lit, led by Capt. Quinton Dieterle, with 58 releases caught on live bait.

Pelican Invitational

Billfish Tournament

Saturday’s catches

12: Gotham, Capt. Kevin Paul

8: Cowpoke, Capt. Mike Brady; Big Oh, Capt. Ronnie Fields

7: Bottom Line, Capt. Geoff Quatraro; J Hook, Capt. Dewey Price

6: Alican, Capt. Doug Heaton

5: Miller Time, Capt. Jason Peer

4: Rowdy, Capt. Alan Black

3: Skid Marks, Capt. Dave Borrack; Ring Leader, Capt. Greg Simmons

2: Cacique, Capt. Harvey Shiflet

1: Ms Bully, Capt. Doug Jossim

Totals: 66 sailfish, 12 boats


57: Bone Shaker, Capt. Scott Fawcett

41: Lo Que Sea, Capt. Glenn Cameron

36: Cowpoke, Capt. Mike Brady

33: Gotham, Capt. Kevin Paul

32: Outlaw, Capt. Ian Wichers

30: Chasin, Capt. Bennett Griffin

29: Challenge, Capt. Jim Hardee; Big Oh, Capt. Ronnie Fields; Sea Check, Capt. V.J. Bell; Play Time, Capt. Darrin Cobb

27: Chasin Tail, Capt. Rob Valko

26: Champagne Lady, Capt. James Ewing

25: Bottom Line, Capt. Geoff Quatraro

24: Sea Hag, Capt. Joe Colabella; Fa La Me, Capt. Robbie Moore; Intents, Capt. Don Mauldin

23: Lisa K, Capt. Bobby Randolph; J Hook, Capt. Dewey Price; Rowdy, Capt. Alan Black; Micabe, Capt. Jay Weaver

22: Miller Time, Capt. Jason Peer

19: Rough N It, Capt. Ed Nicolace

18: Boomer, Capt. Scott Mantz

17: Cacique, Capt. Harvey Shiflet

16: Ms Bully, Capt. Doug Jossim

15: Ring Leader, Capt. Greg Simmons; Give It Away, Capt. Brad Durkin

14: Alican, Capt. Doug Heaton; Skid Marks, Capt. Dave Borrack

Total catches: 736 sailfish released, 29 boats


Daily awards

Wednesday: Bone Shaker, 13

Thursday: Bone Shaker, 21

Friday: Lo Que Sea, 27

Saturday: Gotham, 12

Top captain: Scott Fawcett, Bone Shaker

Top mates: Kyle Francis, James Turner, Bone Shaker

Top male angler: 1. Van Wichers, 25, Bone Shaker; 2. Tony Huerta, 24, Lo Que Sea; 3. Sky Wichers, 21, Bone Shaker

Top female angler: Laura Cioffi, 11, Play Time

Top club member angler: Jack Wilson, 13, Bottom Line

Top club boat: Bottom Line, Capt. Geoff Quatraro

Heaviest dolphin: 16 pounds, Tom Donnick Jr., Rough N It

Heaviest wahoo: 36 pounds, Tom Demboski, Intents



86: Bone Shaker, Capt. Scott Fawcett

75: Cowpoke, Capt. Mike Brady

72: Big Oh, Capt. Ronnie Fields

58: Chasin Tail, Capt. Rob Valko

52: Rough’n It, Capt. Ed Nicolace

47: J Hook, Capt. Dewey Price

43: Sea Hag, Capt. Joe Colabella

42: Miller Time, Capt. Rob Miller

41: Playtime, Capt. Darrin Cobb

36: Lisa K, Capt. Bobby Randolph


736: 2012 Pelican Yacht Club Invitational Billfish Tournament, 29 boats

538: 1997 Stuart Sailfish Club Light Tackle Sailfish Tournament, 45 boats (boats fished 4 days)

408: 2010 Pelican Yacht Club Invitational Billfish Tournament, 29 boats

386: 2004 Pelican Yacht Club Invitational Billfish Tournament, 52 boats

377: 2011 Pelican Yacht Club Invitational Billfish Tournament, 30 boats

377: 2011 Pirates Cove Resort Sailfish Classic, 27 boats

more information

For more on the Pelican Yacht Club event, visit

For more on the Silver Sailfish Derby, find it on Facebook.

This entry was posted in Sportfishing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Recent Posts

  • Contact Us

  • Facebook page for the War Bird Sportfishing Charter Boat Twitter Account for Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Guide and Charter Boat Captain of the War Bird RSS Feed for Posts from Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Charters - the War Bird
    Google Plus

    To Book a Deep Sea
    Fishing Charter
    (305) 394-7420

    Florida Keys Fishing in Key Largo

  • To Book The War Bird
    (305) 394-7420

    • Sailfish
    • Dolphin - Mahi Mahi
    • Wahoo
    • King Mackerel
    • Tuna - Black Fin Tuna
    • Marlin

    • Yellowtail Snapper
    • Mutton Snapper
    • Cubera Snapper
    • Mangrove Snapper
    • Grouper
    • Kingfish - King Mackerel
    • Spanish and Cero Mackerel
    • Hogfish
    • Amberjack
    • Cobia
    • Baracuda

  • The Fish House
    Key Largo's Finest Seafood Restaurant
    102401 Overseas Hwy
    Key Largo, FL 33037

    Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    Dinner: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.
    No Reservations, just come on in!

  • Pages

  • Meta

  • Offshore Sportfishing in the Florida Keys

  • Tags

  • Facebook page for the War Bird Sportfishing Charter Boat Twitter Account for Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Guide and Charter Boat Captain of the War Bird RSS Feed for Posts from Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Charters - the War Bird

    To Book a Deep Sea
    Fishing Charter
    (305) 394-7420