Viva La Vida wins 49th annual Islamorada Sailfish Tournament

Rough seas and windy conditions Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 did not stop great sailfish action among 25 teams and 93 anglers in the 49th Annual Islamorada Sailfish Tournament held in the Florida Keys. One hundred fifty-seven sailfish were released out of 199 called-in hook-ups over the three-day event and more than $83,000 was paid out to the winners, according to Tournament Director Dianne Harbaugh.

Capt. Nick Ewald aboard the Viva La Vida led anglers Eric Darville of Cutler Bay, Fla. fishing with Travis Upchurch and Jimmy Fickling of Islamorada, Fla. to the winners’ circle. With the help of mate Clyde Upchurch, the team released a total of 14 sailfish over the three-day event. Capt. “Wild” Bill Wichrowski of the fishing vessel Cape Caution from the Discovery Channel television show, “Deadliest Catch,” handed over the beautiful glass trophies created by Sandstorm Art Studio and a check to the Viva La Vida at the awards ceremony. It was neck and neck the entire tournament.

Viva la Vida's high point angler Eric Darville wins the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament held Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, 2012

Capt. Paul Ross of the charter boat Relentless and his anglers Fenton Langston from Ocean Reef, Fla.; Jimmy and Debbie David of Hollywood, Fla., and Jimmy Hendrix from Islamorada battled fish for fish with the Viva La Vida with both boats releasing nine sailfish on the first day; they wound up second overall when all the action was tallied.

Capt. Alex Adler on his famed Kalex did his best to keep up with “the boys” releasing seven sails on the first day. Day two blew in as rough as day one with winds 20 to 25 gusting to upwards of 30 knots. Capt. Brian Cone moved up on the leaders releasing five fish on day two bringing his two day total to seven releases.

Viva La Vida swapped fish one for one again with the Relentless, but at the end of the second day Relentless was in the lead on time with 13 fish.

On the final day Sunday, Dec. 2, Captain Augie Wampler’s Predator lived up to its name as the team hunted down the competition. Closing in on them would be last year’s Islamorada Sailfish Tournament winners: the Bodacious. While the two boats were passing the remaining 21 teams, the Viva La Vida released a sail propelling them into first place ahead of the Relentless.

At 1:22 p.m., angler Shay Danzig aboard the Bodacious hooked up a sailfish. If this fish was released, it would put them ahead of the Predator. Capt. Augie called the committee boat at 1:27 p.m. as he, too, was hooked up. It would be a release for angler Don Gaytos of Medford, N.J. aboard the Predator, before the release on the Bodacious that would secure their third place win.

Relentless anglers Fenton Langston from Ocean Reef, Fla. fishing with Jimmy and Debbie David of Hollywood, Fla., and Jimmy Hendrix from Islamorada took home second place honors. Capt. Paul Ross with the help of mate Mike Walter released 9 fish the first day and 4 fish on the second day. The Relentless took home second place trophies with a total of 13 releases.

Capt. Augie Wampler’s Predator fishing anglers Jeff Moore (Jacksonville, FL), Mike Cook (Broomall, PA), Don Gaytos (Medford, N.J.) and Ross Demarzo (Islamorada) with the help of mate Tim Arse released three sails on the first day, 2 the second day and 5 on the final day. The team took home third place honors with a total of 10 releases.

The prestigious Bill Hirni Memorial Trophy and a stunning lighted glass trophy would go to High Point angler Eric Darville aboard the Viva La Vida with a total of seven releases on time. Angler Debbie David would win the Top Lady Angler award with her three releases aboard the Relentless. Junior angler and last year’s high point angler Shawn MacMullin Jr. fishing with his father aboard the Prime Time took home the top junior angler award with three sailfish releases.

Most Tagged fish went to the Catchalottafish. Captain James Chappell and mates Marc Toledo and Brian Jamison would tag 3 of the7 Sailfish they released for anglers Lee Robertson (Chattanoogo, TN), Brad Perra (Rock Springs, GA), Mike Sisto (Key Largo, FL) and Steve Pere (Sarasota, FL).

The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is the first leg of the Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship. The Viva La Vida is currently in the lead with 14 fish. Second place in the Gold Cup is the Relentless with 13 releases and third is the Bodacious with 10 releases. The next leg of the series is the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament Jan. 17-19. The champions will be crowned at the Islamorada Fishing Clubs January Sailfish Tournament Jan. 24, 2013.

The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is the primary fund raiser for the Islamorada Charter Boat Association. With the help of sponsors Caribee Boat Sales, Yamaha Outboards, World Wide Sportsman, Mangrove Mikes, Mercedes Benz of Cutler Bay, Coral Bay Marina, Tackle Center of Islamorada, and the splendid parties put on by Whale Harbor Restaurants and Marina, the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament continues the fight to preserve and protect the fabulous fishing in the Florida Keys. More information on the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament can be found on the web site www.islamoradasailfishtournament.com.

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