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Unreel repeats as King Mackerel champion in Key West tournament

The Unreel team won the Stock Island king mackerel tournament for the second year in a row.
The Unreel team won the Stock Island king mackerel tournament for the second year in a row.
Jill Zima Borski

A 70.68-pound kingfish catch earned the Unreel fishing team top honors at the Stock Island Marina Village King Mackerel Tournament that ended Jan. 26 in the Florida Keys.

The team consisted of Captain Steve Squires and Lynwood Riggs of Kinston, N.C., and Captain Billy Delph, Sam Shaw and Delph's sons David and Daniel Delph, all of Key West, Fla. Unreel also earned the tournament championship in 2013.

Riggs said the team was fishing in about 90 feet of water on the reef when they scored the massive catch just after 12:30 p.m. on the tournament's second and final day.

"We saw the fish come out of the water and we knew it was a big one, but we didn't know how big it was," said Squires, who was named the tournament's top senior angler.

He and Riggs both credited Billy Delph's skill and local knowledge as pivotal factors in the team's victory.

"This is the biggest fish we've caught so far," said Riggs. "Seventy pounds -- that's a hog!"

As well as being part of the winning team, 10-year-old David Delph earned the tournament's top junior angler title.

The Miss Ivory team, led by Captain Jason Johnson of Key West, took second place with a 60.21-pound catch. Anglers were Craig Peden and 14-year-old Chandler Peden of Fort Myers, Fla.

Third-place honors went to team Pro Marine Kingpin with a 59.87-pound kingfish. Skippered by Captain Chad Hickman of St. Petersburg, Fla., the team consisted of St. Petersburg residents Kennedy Dellane and Dieder Voeltz, as well as Gary and Brad Hickman of Cape Haze, Fla.

The tournament also featured a division for anglers fishing in boats 23 feet or shorter. Its winner was the team aboard Bada Bing, led by Captain Sammy Papia of Orlando, with a 46.49-pound catch. Anglers included the captain's brother Steve Papia and Chris Joiner, both of West Palm Beach, Fla., as well as Jason Weinman of St. Petersburg.

Kalynn Handy, fishing on the All In, earned the top female angler title for a 50.58-pound catch.

The two-day angling challenge, a sanctioned event of the Southern Kingfish Association, attracted 60 boats.

See www.fla-keys.com for Florida Keys travel and fishing information.