Team Trophy Hunter Scores Repeat Win at Islamorada Sailfish Tournament
Anglers from North Carolina and the Florida Keys, fishing on Trophy Hunter with Islamorada’s Captain Brian Cone, clinched their second consecutive win at the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament that concluded Sunday, Dec. 3.
Mark Mitchell and Kenneth Padgett of Charlotte, North Carolina, with Tavernier, Florida, residents Travis Bennett, Arek Wojcik and junior angler Andy Cone, released 11 sailfish to claim a $38,548 cash prize. They also received distinctive wooden sailfish trophies hand-carved by Islamorada artist Doug Berry.
Now in its 60th year, the tournament kicks off the renowned triple-crown Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship Series.
Thirteen-year-old Andy Cone, son of Captain Brian Cone, released two sailfish to earn the top junior angler title in the tournament — the only Gold Cup event with a junior angler division for entrants ages 18 or younger at the start of the tournament.
Robert Richardson of McKinney, Texas, won top male angler and the Bill Hirni Memorial High Point Angler award with five releases. He fished with Islamorada’s Captain James Hagen on Yabba Dabba Doo.
Top lady angler Seanna Lindback of Islamorada released one sailfish during the event while fishing with Captain Roy Lindback aboard the Tiki.
The second-place team was Carolina Reel Men, guided by Captain Sean O’Donnell of Islamorada, with nine sailfish releases. Anglers were Lee Gahagen, Jimmy Hendrix and Ramiro Hildalgo-gato, all from Islamorada, Sam Milazzo of Tavernier and Brandon Simmons from Marathon, Florida. They received a check for $19,526.
Based at Whale Harbor in Islamorada, the tournament drew 70 participants, according to organizers. A total of 76 sailfish were released out of the 87 hookups called in, with nearly $80,000 awarded to the winners.
At the close of the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament, team Trophy Hunter tops the Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship leaderboard. Carolina Reel Men holds second place in the series, while Killbox is currently in third place.
The next leg of the series is the Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish Tournament set for Jan. 17, followed by the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament Jan. 20-21. The Florida Keys Gold Cup champions are to be crowned at the Presidential tournament’s awards ceremony.
The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament is the primary fundraiser for the Islamorada Charter Boat Association.