73 anglers fishing on 19 boats released 82 sailfish over gripping two-day competition
Cheeca Lodge & Spa’s 29th Annual Presidential Sailfish Tournament, the third leg of the Florida Keys’ Gold Cup Series, hosted 73 competitive anglers this past weekend in the sportfishing capital of the world. Clinching first place,Team Main Attraction earned overall champion honors releasing a total of ten sailfish. Team members included Mark Busch, Clint Rodamer, Daniel Roberts and Shelby Bentley, all from Marathon, FL. Outstanding Captain and Mate Awards went to Main Attraction Captain Marty Lewis and Mates Clint Rodamer and Danny Lombardo.
“We were honored to host this esteemed tournament and thrilled with the impressive competitive spirit this year’s showcase brought. We appreciate the tremendous support of our anglers and sponsors, and are proud to be part of the Florida Keys Gold Cup,” says Bob LaCasse, General Manager of Cheeca Lodge & Spa.“
Overall 50 sailfish were released on the first day of the tournament and 32 were released on the second day, for a total of 114 hookups and 82 releases by 73 anglers on 19 boats.
The Top Lady Angler Award sponsored by Blue Marlin Jewelry went to Michelle Espinosa of Miami, FL, for five releases onboard the Remix captained by JC Cleare of Miami. The Top Lady Angler Award is dedicated to the memory of Jay Anna and Kenny Cohan, beloved members of the Islamorada community.
Second Place went to Team HellReyzer led by Captain Ryan Alexander of Cutler Bay, FL. HellReyzer released ten sailfish with anglers Rey Acosta, Travis Upchurch, Jorge Corzo, Mike Acosta of Pinecrest, FL.
Team Indigenous earned Third Place honors. Captain Travis Dickens of Islamorada, FL, and Anglers Wade Stafford of Merritt Island, FL; Coleman Wherly of Melbourne, FL; Mike Varney of Key Largo, FL; and Mark Toledo of Ft. Lauderdale, FL released nine sailfish.
The Grand Champion Angler Award, sponsored by Caribee Boat Sales and Marina, went to Mike Varney of Key Largo, FL, on The Indigenous captained by Travis Dickens for five releases.
In a long-standing Presidential Tournament tradition of conservation, the Mdala team won the Most Tagged Fish Award, captained by John Hagen with Angler Mike Walter, both of Islamorada, FL.
Tournament trophies were created by famed Keys artists Pasta Pantaleo and David Wirth, as well as Inside Design of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Pasta Pantaleo’s artwork was also featured on the tournament shirts, buckets and caddies.
The 29th Annual Presidential Tournament Title Sponsors included Caribee Boat Sales and Marina, Yamaha Outboards and Keys Audio Visual. Partner sponsors included BlueFin USA, Pasta Pantaleo, Blue Marlin Jewelry, EG Vodka, Cruzan Rum, Executive Printers of Florida, Florida Keys Brewing Company, Keys Audio Visual and RideStarRX.
Cheeca Lodge & Spa also hosts the All-American Backcountry Fishing Tournament set for Nov. 7-9, 2019.