A flat calm day with sunny skies June 8 greeted 83 lady anglers fishing aboard 34 boats for the 2nd Annual Ladies Dolphin Tournament of the Florida Keys hosted at The Florida Keys Elks Lodge 1872, mile marker 92.5 bayside in Tavernier. The combined weight of the boat’s three biggest fish determined the top 10 teams. Tournament proceeds benefitted the Elks’ charities.
When the weight scales closed at 5 p.m. Saturday, Mark Wheaton with Mate Danny Vinco fishing aboard their boat, Hooked Up, had led anglers Sidney Valdes from Marathon, fishing with Tiara and Tiffany Wheaton from Key Largo, and Tracey Reilly, also from Key Largo, to the winners circle.
First Place tiaras and trophies, sponsored by Riva Motorsports, were awarded to the ladies along with a cooler full of valuable prizes and a check for $3,000. Pasta Pantaleo and Carey Chen prints went to the captain and mate, sponsored by Yamaha Outboards and Caribee Boat Sales. The ladies three dolphin weighed 14.2, 22.6 and 28.1 pounds for a winning combination of 64.9 pounds. Reilly won overall and Valdes was crowned Junior Champion with her 14.2 pounder.
Second place, sponsored by Tackle Center of Islamorada, went to lone angler Robyn Frick of Tavernier. Fishing aboard the Big Huie with Captain Tom Meyers and family friend Jeff, Frick weighed in 19.3-, 8.2-, and 22.1-pound dolphin. Her total of 49.6 pounds landed her a check for $1,500 and other prizes.
Captain Reese Lewis fishing his charter boat, The Natural, took home a check for $1,000 and trophies sponsored by Keys Tropical Windows and Doors. Third place angler Eva Lewis from Little Torch Key. She weighed in 20.4-, 19.2- and 7.0 pound dolphin for a total of 46.6 pounds and was also awarded a cooler full of goodies.
The largest fish of the tournament was weighed in by Cathy Russo from Davie, Fla. Fishing with John McGee and Tim Russo aboard the Pile Em In, Cathy weighed in a 30.7 pound fish. Cathy was presented a tiara along with a check for $1,000 and beautiful gold diamond studded dolphin pendant from DePaula Jewelers.
The Ladies Dolphin Tournament of the Florida Keys awards prize packages comprised of products and services from local businesses to the top ten teams. The fourth place team was Reef Freak from Tavernier, followed by Pile Em In, Last Dance from Islamorada, Killin Time out of Key Largo, No Slack from Miami, Plan B from Islamorada and the Caloosa Cove charter boat TIKI.
The tournament kicked off Friday, June 7, with a free casting contest, fishing from the dock, free paddle board lessons from paddle the Florida Keys, vendor booths and a bounce house for the kids. Friday evening, the anglers and their crews were treated to a boat full of shrimp, from Shrimp Improvement Systems, along with heavy hors d’oeuvres.
According to Tournament Director Dianne Harbaugh, everyone boasted of finding acres of schoolie dolphin during the awards banquet but bigger fish were harder to come by. The awards dinner and ceremony were fit for the queens of the fishing world. “It was great to be able to fill the top 10 winner’s cooler bags with such wonderful items from businesses throughout the Upper Keys,” said Harbaugh. “I am so proud to have been a part of this event. The Elks have such wonderful charities that this event will help to support.”
If you would like to become a member or for more information on the Elks and the charities they support, visit the www.floridakeyselks1872.com or call 305-852-1872.