The 59th annual Islamorada Sailfish Tournament kicked off at Whale Harbor, hosting 88 anglers. Under rough conditions and tough fishing, anglers competed for three days until lines were out of the water at 3 p.m. on Dec. 4. A total of 42 sailfish were released out of the 54 called-in hookups with nearly $80,000 in prize money on the line.

Captain Brian Cone led anglers Mark Mitchell and Kenneth Padgett of Charlotte, North Carolina, along with Travis Bennett, Brett Shahlamian and junior angler Andy Cone, all from Tavernier, to victory with a total of four releases on time. The team took home sailfish Gyotaku prints by Lisa Herman’s Gallery of the Arts, sponsored by Caribee Boat Sales and Yamaha Outboards, along with Smith sunglasses, Papa’s Pilar rum and a check. 

Anglers were greeted with wind and salt spray as the morning bite began. By 12:15 p.m. the Tackle Center’s angler Donny Lange, of Tavernier, had three fish and the team was in the lead. As the day progressed Hillbilly Deluxe would be hot on their heels with three releases of their own. Trophy Hunter would have a release by junior angler Andy Cone and one for boat owner Mark Mitchell.

Day two started out early for Remix as Captain JC Cleare called in a hookup only three minutes after lines in. The fish was released just two minutes later, giving the Remix a total of two fish for the two days. But the day would belong to the Dirty Boat and captain Kit Carson’s team. They released three sails landing them in third place at the end of the second day. Trophy Hunter angler Mark Mitchell released the last fish of the day at 3:48 p.m., moving them into fourth place with a two-day total of three releases.

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