Murphy’s Law hung heavy on the six-man crew of Bouncer’s Dusky in the two-day Yamaha/Contender Miami Billfish Tournament that concluded Saturday.
Mechanical breakdowns during Friday’s opener killed one of the boat’s two outboard engines and the live well, requiring a tow back to shore and forcing captain Bouncer Smith and his crew to borrow a friend’s boat — a 39-foot Contender — to finish the tournament. Still, they managed a two-day total of 14 sailfish releases for first place in the fleet of 37 boats and took home more than $46,500. Team member Jorge de Cardenas was top angler with nine releases.
“Absolutely spectacular,” Smith said of his third victory in the tournament, held annually since 1983. “This is the all-time, ultimate South Florida tournament. Not its heyday like it used to be, but still a spectacular event that brings people together and raises money for conservation and marine science.”
4 Aces, skippered by multiple Miami Billfish winner captain John Dudas, was second with 13 sails, beating third place Rock Star, also with 13, on time. Friday’s leader Reel Karma took fourth place with 11 followed by fifth-place Miss Britt II, also with 11. The sixth-through-eighth-place boats — Asian Pearl II, Jichi, and The Edge — each had 10. Just Do It was ninth with nine and Team Fishless/Fine Awards took tenth with eight sails.
The crew of Karma won top honors in Saturday’s One-Day Outboard Challenge, releasing one sail and weighing 43 pounds of funfish.
Despite the addition of 19 boats to Saturday’s tournament fleet for the Outboard Challenge, the sailfish count was 61 — less than half of Friday’s tally of 128.
Smith said Saturday’s lack of wind and current were to blame. He and his crew released most of their sails in about 200 feet of water near the Miami sea buoy, using helium to fly their sole kite in the light air, and catching four out of six fish on flat lines baited with herring. Rounding out the Bouncer’s Dusky team were David Barkus, Abie Raymond, Billy Springer and Josh Velazquez.
Stephanie Gordon on Just Do It was top female angler with three sails and Jichi’s James David was top junior with eight.
In the funfish division, Dave Bulthuis on Thomas Flyer weighed the heaviest dolphin at 17.6 pounds. Marc Granet on Just Do It had a 22-pound blackfin. Carlos Padron on First Choice got a 26.8-pound cobia. Blue Moon/Big Easy’s Bryce Statham weighed a 38.8-pound kingfish.
Winners picked up their checks and prizes in a gala awards ceremony at Miami Beach Marina.