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King of the Beach

Madeira Beach tournament keeps growing

The tournament weighin celebration was fit for a King… and 543 other teams and a few thousand friends and family.

The rockstar of kingfish tournaments has crowned another king. And for the next five months Joe Bodner, of Team Overdraft, will be wearing that crown. Joe's team, made up of family members, won the King of the Beach by catching a 46.99-pound kingfish. For their efforts, they'll be taking home $63,744 for first place. What Jacksonville had in the early 1990s Madeira Beach has now—a “happening” that you don't want to miss if you're an offshore angler in a nearby zip code. And judging by the number of “Traveling Angler” entries, lots of other zip codes as well.

In its 24th year the event just keeps getting bigger. Five years ago the first-place fish received a total of $16,000. In this year's fall event the fourth place fish took home $16,000 and third place took home $29,000.

“It's all about the average angler,” said Dan Casey, the reigning king from fall 2016. “Every penny the angler pays in registration fees gets paid back in prizes.”

“It was a great event,” commented Blair Wickstrom, Publisher of Florida Sportsman, who fished the tournament with his brother in-law and nephew from Seminole, FL. “They clearly have the tournament figured out. The decision to put in reasonable boundaries levels out the playing field for the average angler. You clearly don't need a triple engine center console to participate.”

Summerlike conditions and a relatively slow bite had anglers waiting until the very end to bring fish to the dock.

The weigh-in took about 4 hours and they weighed in 202 fish total. The King of the Beach paid out 35 places in Overall Division, 5 in Single Engine Division, 3 in Traveling Angler, 3 in Ladies, 3 in Youth, 1 Greenhorn and 10 in Spanish Mackerel which totals to 60 paid places.

The top ten finishers were: 1) Overdraft 46.99 Joe Bodner 2) Out of Site 41.23 Ryan Linsley $8,000 3) Fish Hawk Charters 36.83 Richard Vargas $5,000 4) Pro Marine 36.57 Kevin Hannon $4,000 5) No Escape 34.19 DJ Creadon $3,000 6) Due West 32.74 Brandon Lindsey $2,000 7) Liquid Buzz 32.20 Ernie Rubio $1,750 8) Wine Down 30.86 Ron Berdell $1,500 9) Smoked Out 30.71 Chase Montero $1,250 10) Team Googanator 29.66 Eric Fosbender $1,000

Team Overdraft proved that family that fishes together wins together. Capt Joe Bodner led his team to a victory while weighing in their 46.99-pound kingfish.

Overall fishing was a little slow when it came to true smokers, with just two fish caught over 40 pounds. But, lots of fish were brought in. The two largest caught were rumored to have come from slightly warmer water (75 degrees) that made its way into the Pinellas artificial reef area of the Blackthorn.

Over 10,000 people attended the three-day event, in what resembled a festival more than a fishing tournament. You had plenty of anglers but you also had families, lots of them.

Along with a crown the King gets a ring. This ring belongs to the Fall 2016 King Dan Casey.

If you missed out on this year's event, you have until next spring to get your team signed up.

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