Another successful Miami Springs/Virginia Gardens Optimist Dolphin Classic Fishing Tournament and Community Fish Fry, the 12th annual version, went into the books last Saturday, June 8. And to say Mother Nature was looking down smiling on the event might be an understatement.
Less than 24 hours earlier, rain of near epic proportions had been dumped on Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the tail end of Tropical Storm Andrea causing major flooding in the northeast sector of Dade and southeast section of Broward while also dumping nearly 4 inches on the Miami Springs area.
And the forecast Friday night for Saturday? “Iffy” at best, leaving some doubt whether any of the 25 boats entered in the tournament might even make it out on to the water at sunrise on Saturday morning.
Not only were the skies clear at sunrise but things remained dry throughout the day and evening, allowing a nice crowd to come out and enjoy the late-afternoon and early-evening festivities around the Circle.
On the menu besides delicious food , including fresh dolphin right out of the fryer, were raffle prizes, auction items and tons of fun for the kids, including a pair of bounce houses. And what would live entertainment be without Danny Kelly and local band Room Service setting up shop in the Gazebo and bailing out the tunes for close to four hours.
And, of course, with a whopping $5,000 check waiting for the winning boat, there was plenty of serious fishing to be done as well. And did the team from the boat Rabbit’s Foot ever do some serious fishing.
Alain Leon, Tony Gonzalez, Marcelo Prieto and captain Ozzie Garcia pulled in around 4:30 p.m. with a mighty heavy cooler.
When they pulled out four huge dolphin and dropped them on the scale, the total came in at 83.75 pounds and that turned out to be good enough to take home first place.
“We were hesitant and didn’t jump in the tournament until the last minute,” said Garcia, who, along with his crew, is from the Miami Lakes area. “Obviously I’m glad we did because we found a nice spot and brought in a nice catch. We went out just south of the elbow (down near Key Largo) into about 600 feet of water and caught everything in the early morning.”
The boat Hammerhead II, captained by Bob Stull, had a nice haul as well, totaling 79.45 pounds, and his team took home the second-place check of $2,500.
Captain Mike Walker and the boat Rezkill, which has been in the water for all 12 tournaments over the years, came in third with a catch of 70.85 and a check for $1,250.
“Just fantastic, I don’t even know where to begin,” said Optimist president Tony Silva. “It was awesome seeing the community come out and support this great event and to say we felt so blessed with the weather turning out great would be an understatement.
“As we all saw on Friday with the bad weather, we weren’t sure how things would go on Saturday for not only the boaters on the water but in the late afternoon when the big Community Fish Fry was scheduled to take place on the Circle. Thank goodness Mother Nature was looking down on us as it turned out to be a beautiful day and made for a great event.”