Florida Keys Fishing Tournament Coverage
“the Cup” and $25,000
The Captains Cup
The Captains’ Cup tournament started when those who organize the Islamorada Sailfish 2001, realized that many teams still wanted to enter after the maximum 25 boats were signed up.
The Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish 2004, also a $25,000 winner-take-all tournament, is scheduled for Jan. 21.
Call 664-4735 for more information.
Three captains on board one tournament boat. Would too many cooks spoil this stew? That wasn’t the case Dec. 9 in the 2003 Islamorada Fishing Club Captain’s Cup as three skippers teamed to catch five sailfish in one day and win $25,000.
Capt. Greg Eklund was at the helm of his “Cloud Nine” as Capt. Rusty Albury caught and released four sailfish and Capt. Craig Brewer released one of his own to beat out 22 other teams in this new, winner-take-all tournament.
Eklund said it wasn’t a problem having so many guides aboard..
“The crew was the most important thing we had going for us,” said Eklund who runs the 48-foot sportfisher out of Bud ‘N’ Mary’s Marina on Upper Matecumbe. “It was great to look off the stern and see a sailfish in the water and know that the guys back there saw the fish and know what to do to catch it.”
Guides also know that one of the most frustrating things about being captain: when there is a shot at a great catch, and the angler doesn’t have a clue what to do. The opportunity is missed, and the story turns into the “one that got away.”
Out of seven shots, two did get away from Albury and Brewer. But they got it together and caught enough to keep them in the running all day, and then on top when it really mattered: the 4 p.m. call for “lines out.”
Albury said the change was a pleasure. Usually he is on top of a poling platform in a backcountry skiff, or in the fly bridge of the private vessel “Circe” he runs for fishing fanatics Bob and Mindy Rich of Islamorada..
Plenty of sailfish have been caught on that boat with Albury at the helm and Bob or Mindy in the cockpit. But it’s been awhile since Albury was doing the cranking.
“During the tournament, we were trying to remember the last time I caught a sailfish,” said Albury. “I still can’t remember when it was.”
When Brewer is on the water, he’s most often atop a poling platform as well, pointing out bonefish, redfish, tarpon or permit to paying customers on the bow.
Second place in the tournament went to “Jacktar,” which also had five sailfish released. But their last fish was caught after “Cloud Nine” had caught their last fish. “Cloud Nine” caught their fifth at about 2:45 p.m. “Jacktar” got theirs about 15 minutes later.
“The winner-take-all format makes it even more exciting,” said Eklund. “You throw it down with the best around and work extra hard. This is one tournament you want to win.”
Also on board were mates Mike Nichols and JR Harrison, as well as “team leader” Bob Rich, owner of Rich Foods and a Met master angler. Rich put together this captain-heavy team at the last minute.
Originally, the plan was for Albury and Rich to fish it on the “Circe.” But Rich’s back went out, and his boat, “Circe” was still in a Palm Beach boatyard days before the tournament.
Albury recommended the “Cloud Nine” and they decided Brewer, who has been fishing the Keys his whole life, should be the other angler..
The team started strong. They got the first sailfish release of the tournament, which was actually the first of a double.
“That was a great feeling,” said Eklund. “To be two ahead of everybody right off the bat. That means anyone else would now have to catch three to take out lead.”
Others, like “Jacktar,” did take the lead for awhile. But the “Cloud Nine” stuck to its game plan, staying in an area where they knew sailfish were moving through.
“Finally, they called ‘lines out,’” said Eklund.