April 27, 2011. “It was an awesome weekend,” said astronaut Bruce Melnick sporting a huge smile. The two-time space shuttle astronaut, one of the celebrities among the 20 anglers, had just hours before caught and released a 170-pound tarpon in the La Siesta Sunrise/Sunset Tarpon Tournament, a Redbone@Large series event April 15 – 17 for the cystic fibrosis research.
Melnick not only caught his largest tarpon ever — some 50 smaller ones preceded it over his years of fishing — he exclaimed, “The last morning, while motoring out at day break in Capt Matt Bellinger’s skiff, we were treated to a great surprise of watching the space station fly overhead for several minutes, followed by my catching that 170 plus pound tarpon, and then a breath-taking sunrise.
“It doesn’t get much better than that,” he beamed.
Life in the Keys.
Gary Hall, of Niagara Falls, N.Y. would second that. Guided by Capt. Jim Dalrymple, he was the grand champion angler in his first-ever tarpon tournament, catching and releasing three silver kings.
“They were everywhere,” said Hall. “I caught two in the evening period and my last one on Sunday morning before having to leave early for a Miami meeting. It wasn’t until later that I found out I had won.”
The two grand champion anglers and their two captains were each awarded paintings from the Redbone Gallery from the works of artist Pasta Pantaleo.
The La Siesta Resort and Marina in the heart of Islamorada at MM 80.5 with its cottages, villas and suites served as the headquarters and hosting sponsor for the second year.
Anglers fished beginning at dawn from 6-10:30 a.m., on Saturday and Sunday with a middle Saturday session at dusk, from 4-8 p.m., featuring what Melnick called a beautiful sunset and a near moon rise. The tournament closed with a Sunday noon awards luncheon.
In the team division, Dr. Robert Cullen, a long time supporter of the Redbone tournaments along with one of his sons, Michael, won by catching two tarpon each, while fishing with Capt. Kenny Knudsen. Cullen, the Head of Pediatric Neurology at Miami Children’s Hospital, made a family affair out of the event as three out of his four sons fished the tournament.
Hall and Dale Lusk were the runner-up team. Dr. Cullen also won runner-up angler based on time.
Under the near full moon, celebrity musician Clarence Clemons, the “emperor” of the E-Street Band, wailed the night away on his saxophone with the local Marlin Too Revue after the event’s kickoff dinner and silent auction.
For tournament information on this and nearly 30 other tournaments across the country and the Bahamas go to the Redbone website at www.redbone.org , or phone Redbone executive director Susan Ellis at 305-664-2002 or via email@example.com.
Results: 2011 REDBONE @ LARGE
La Siesta Sunrise/Sunset Tarpon Tournament
Islamorada, Fl. – April 15 – 17 – Target species: Tarpon
20 anglers; 20 total tarpon caught and released
Trophy artwork provided to the Redbone Gallery by artists Pasta Pantaleo, Jeanine Bean, Stephen Whitlock and John Rice
FORMAT: ALL RELEASE- All tarpon had to be 48 inches in overall length to qualify as a legal release among three tackle divisions of bait, artificial and fly
GRAND CHAMPION ANGLER: Gary Hall, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
GUIDE TO GRAND CHAMPION ANGLER: Capt. Jim Dalrymple
CELEBRITY GRAND CHAMPION ANGLER: Astronaut Bruce Melnick, Inglis, Fla.,
GUIDE TO CELEBRITY GRAND CHAMPION ANGLER: Capt. Matt Bellinger
LADY GRAND CHAMPION: Brooke Denkert, Islamorada, Fla.,
GUIDE TO LADY GRAND CHAMPION: Capt. Dave Denkert
TEAM GRAND CHAMPIONS: Dr. Robert Cullen and Michael Cullen, Coral Gables, Fla.
GUIDE TO TEAM GRAND CHAMPIONS: Capt. Ken Knudsen
RUNNER-UP TEAM GRAND CHAMPION ANGLERS: Gary Hall and David Lusk, Ann Arbor, Mich.
GUIDE TO RUNNER-UP TEAM GRAND CHAMPION ANGLER: Capt. Jim Dalrymple
FIRST RUNNER UP ANGLER: Dr. Robert Cullen
GUIDE TO FIRST RUNNER UP ANGLER: Capt. Ken Knudson