Forty bartenders or restaurant employees, representing 14 different bars, registered for the 33rd Annual Islamorada Bartenders Sailfish Open Feb.10 which kicked off at the Island Grill in Islamorada. After a day of sailfishing in the Florida Keys, they released 13 Sailfish out of 22 called-in hook ups.
With winds from the north in the morning at 10 to 15, last year’s Grand Champions aboard the Bn’M from Dillon’s Pub and Grill scored the first released sailfish, one of a double header, for Skyler McGarry at 9:35 a.m. A Bali Hai anglers, Amy Smith, released the second fish of the day for Ziggie and Mad Dog’s just two minutes later. Then, at 9:39 a.m., Ramanda Bannenberg released the second of the Bn’M’s double header to put Dillon’s firmly in the lead.
As the day progressed, Captain Rusty Albury of the Esperanza led angler Amanda Blamowski to two sailfish releases. Bali Hai then found a second Sail to release for Dane Paboytoy.
At 2:59 p.m., All Stoked, fishing the gang from Snapper’s, hooked up their second fish. One hour and 47 minutes later, Rigoberto Jaureguim, aka Kiki, released a massive Sailfish.
In the end, Captain Nick Stanczyk, with mate Charlie Scoble, assured the Grand Champion Trophy would be back on the wall at Dillon’s again this year, with their two releases on time. The team also was awarded a check for $1,000, sponsored in part by the Ocean View Lounge and Mangrove Mikes Café in memory of Trapper John, who was a long time bartender and participant in the event.
Second place was awarded to Green Turtle and Kaiyo anglers Amanda Blamowski and Darin Goertzen with two sailfish releases aboard the Esperanza. Third Place honors went to Bali Hai with Capt. Robert Collins and mate Brandon Hopper releasing two sailfish for the Ziggie and Mad Dog’s team of Kevin Potter, Amie Smith and Dane Paboytoy.
The First Place Angler award went to the Esperanza with mates Jay Sullivan and Mike Kozma grabbing the leaders of two Sailfish for Amanda Blamowski. She took home a great bronze Sailfish trophy. Trophies were also given to second place angler Skyler McGarry of Dillon’s, third place angler Amy Smith from Ziggie and Mad Dog’s and fourth place angler Ramanda Bannenberg for Dillon’s Pub.
Most Outstanding Catch went to Hog Heaven’s Roni Smith for a 10.9 pound Blackfin Tuna.
The Hard Luck basket of booze from Martini’s Fine Wine and Spirits went to Bayside Grill bartenders Kim Weatherly, Sue DuBon and Michael Bohnenkamp who had a triple header of sailfish that were thwarted by a flock of Gannet birds and they only released one fish.
Island Grill hosted a fabulous awards ceremony on the beach. Tournament Director Dianne Harbaugh said, “My favorite part of this tournament is is we had so many anglers who caught and released their first sailfish. By opening up the tournament to actively employed bartenders and restaurant employees, we had a lot of people who would have never gone sailfishing if it wasn’t for this tournament. It is great to see them having such a great time.”