History

The Key West Marlin Tournament Is Born

The inaugural Key West Marlin Tournament took place October 23 – October 25 with 92 boats and 400 anglers anxious to test the waters south of Key West on the Wall. The tournament was a rousing success.

1982 was the year of the 400 pounders with first prize going to Key West attorney Jack Spottswood with a 462 pounder, aboard the Chelsea. Micky Rupp aboard his boat Rupp Rigger was the winner of the tag and release division with two marlin.

1983 was the year of the 300 pounders. Only 4 ounces separated the first and second place marlin winners and only 23 pounds separated the first through eight-place marlin. Aboard Captain Dick Myers Fair Star angler Harold Shappel landed a 328.12 pound blue marlin to claim first place. Navy Captain Red Best commanding Officer of the NAS Key West Base won the marlin tag and release division fishing with Captain Junior Rendueles.

1984 the year of the 500 pounders. Mary Jo Spence landed a 500 pound blue marlin to claim first place fishing aboard the Mary Jo with captain Matt Borkowski. A second 500-pound blue was weighted in on the last day of the tournament two take second place based on time of catch. Angler Kent Smith aboard Capt Frank Smith’s Renegade, was the tag and release champ with two marlin releases.

1985 the year of excitement and variety of catches. Angler Charles Lewis fishing aboard the Amours withCaptain Jr. Rendueles captured the winning blue marlin a 466.8 pounder. Shirley Wood fishing aboard the Petticoat III with her husband Norman took top honors for most releases.

1986 was the year of the small boats with two marlin in excess of 300 pounds being caught in 25-foot boats. Angler Findlay Sinclair’s 348.75 pound blue marlin took first place, he was fishing aboard the Katherine Louise with Capt. Tom Walker and Ed Allie. The second place weight marlin when to angler Ramón Rodriquez and Capt Pat Tuper. Rodgregis’s marlin just made the 300 pound minimum weight with a blue marlin weighting 301 pounds 12 ounces. Bill Voegeli’s two tag and releases were tops overall. First tag, Sonny Boy, Sonny Tilman Second Tag, Sea Boots Capt Jim and angler Todd Badd.

1987 was the year of the 500 pound blue marlin, as predicted in the welcoming letter prior to the tournament. A new tournament record was set by angler Rosie Morrison fishing aboard the Sea Boots with Captain Jim Sharpe, Rosie’s marlin weighted in at 520 pounds. Angler Gene Stone took top honors in the release division.

1988 returned to the year of the 400 pounder. Angler Walter Milo fishing with Captain Jay Weed aboard the Lucky Two landed a 422.25 pound blue marlin to take the winners circle.

1989 was once again the year of the 300 pounder. Angler Roy Spear fishing with Capt. Patrick Sheppard aboard the Dream took the winners circle with a 300 pound blue. Angler Tim Greene fishing aboard the Beachcomber with Capt. Mike Cyr took top honors in the release division.

 

1990 back to the 500 pounders and a new tournament record. The brother team of Captain Bryan Bennett and Glenn Bennett fishing on the Thunnus captured a blue that weighted in at 570 pounds The release honors went to the Sea Boots 34 angler Chuck Stitzel and Capt. Todd Badd

1991 featured all releases; first marlin release was angler Tom Daniels and Capt. Larry White fishing on the Chief, Second marlin release went to angler Scott Ricket on the Serenity and the third release marlin went to Warren Worlin Sr. fishing with his son Worren Worlin Jr. on the Go Gether.

1992 Angler Steven Lewis land Capt. Lindsay Forde on Freebee won first place, angler Phil Eaton and Capt. Ky Lewis on the Dazie Mae was second and angler Dennis Captik and Capt. Bill Wickers aboard the Linda D lV took third place.

 

 

The Key West Marlin Tournament Is Reborn

1999 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament.

The tournament is reborn with a new and exciting scoring format that keeps every boat in the tournament until lines out on the final day. In 1999 the first place boat in the marlin division was the Talisman with angler Jim Sharpe Jr. and Captain Mike Friday with 470 points. Second place boat was the CC Rider with 461 points. Third place boat was the Sweet Deal also scoring 461 points but losing second on time of catch.

2000 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

The first place boat in the marlin division was the Summertime Lady II, with anglers Mike Sullivan and Capt. Marco Gaona and Mike Weinhofer. Second place boat Molly Good Heads angler Jason Gilbert. Third place boat Leprechaun Angler Joe Richardson and Capt. Andy Fortin.

In the dolphin division the top dolphin were separated by only three pounds; The Do Fish with angler Kevin Firestone weighed in a 43.05 pound bull to take first place. In second place the Talisman angler Jim Sharpe Jr. with a 42.65 pound bull. Third place was the Super Equity angler Pete Rutskin with a 38.05 pound bull.

2001 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

The first place boat in the marlin division was the Finesse with angler Clay Harris and Captain Ken Harris. The second place boat Rampagous crewed with angler John Crockett and Captain Brett Taporowski. Third place went to the boat Looney Tunes with angler Bob Scerrato and Ed Steinmetz fishing with Captain Carl Rees.

In the dolphin division the top prize went to angler Tom Payne on the boat Rentless with Captain Paul Ross. The wahoo division the top boat was Lucky Charm with angler Rick Bodett and Captain Jay Weed. The top tuna was caught on the boat Peg Leg with angler Alan Finnieston.

2002 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

The 2002 tournament once again lived up to its reputation as an exciting world-class fishing event. Marking the 20th anniversary of the tournament, the first place winner was Mar-Joe with Captain Scott Henley, George Castro, and Frank Bolin releasing three blue marlin to add their names to the Norman Wood trophy. The second place trophy went to the Bull Gator team, with Bob Sullivan and Bill Caulfield releasing two blue marlin. Third Place went to Summertime Lady with one blue marlin release based on time.

In the fun fish division the 1st place dolphin was caught on the Erica by Jimmy Butters weighing 35.35 lbs, second place went to Sweet Deal with Scott Fricke with a 32.2 lbs dolphin and third place was Super Grouper with Chip Veach weighing 29.95 lbs. The top Wahoo was caught on the Lucky Charm by Rick Cresse.

2003 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

The first place boat in the 2003 tournament in the marlin division was the Beachcomber, with captain Daryl Simeon and anglers Rick Kirvan, president and past winner of the Hemingway Look-Alike contest, Matt Polumbo and Tim Greene, releasing two blue marlin for the win. Second place went to the Game Hunter, skippered by Alex Alder with anglers Brian Baugher, Chris Claypool and Anthony Delduca. Get Lit captured third place with captain Ray Rosher and anglers Chris Toomey and Peter Miller.

In the fun fish division top dolphin prize went to angler David Lively on the Y2k with a 50.5lb dolphin. The Kilcare caught the largest tuna with angler Ned Dickman. The largest Wahoo was captured by the Triple Time with angler Rob Camis.

2004 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

Miami Beach angler Bob Cristoph, Sr. caught and released a sailfish Saturday adding points to his team’s tally that included a released blue marlin and a 17.2 pound dolphin to win the 2004 tournament.

Cristoph’s son Bob Cristoph, Jr., Ryan Flannery and Bill Mosher fished on the Hook, skippered by Rick Morrell of Miami.

Randy Reynolds of East Montpelier, Vermont, released a blue marlin to give Business Calls’ team second place with Captain Bill Rohde of Summerland Key.

Third place was garnered by the team of Sir Veza III of Channelview, Texas.

In the fun fish division top dolphin prize went to angler Kevin Speidel on the Triple Time with a 37.25lb dolphin. The Ambitious took first place in the tuna division with a 66.30lb yellowfin. Tim Trivett was the angler and Mark Baumgarten on the Cowboy which took first place in the wahoo division with a 33.4lb fish.

2005 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

By less than one point, the Julie Jean captained by Jimmy Robertson of Boca Grande, FL, won the top prize in the 2005 edition of the Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament.

Chase Wise released a blue marlin and a sailfish on the first day to hang on for the win. Eight other boats also released one blue marlin and the top prize was determined by entries in the fun fish division, where each day either one dolphin, wahoo, or tuna could be weighed or sailfish released to add to the marlin points.

Finishing second was Dreamin’ On, skippered by Randy Hodgekis with a marlin release and two dolphin weighing 21.1 and 28 pounds, with Steve Keinath and Bob Strewe of Rifle, Colorado.

Business Calls was third, with a blue marlin release and a 46.8 pound wahoo skippered by Bill Rohde with anglers Darren Doop and Mark Staats.

The largest marlin of the tournament was estimated at over 550 pounds, and released by Bruce Woods fishing on the Pettycoat III with Captain Norman Wood.

Bradley Wells, age 10 of Naples, Florida caught a 31.6 pound dolphin to win the dolphin division.

More than 320 anglers, aboard 67 boats fished the tournament.

2006 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

The 24th year of the tournament concluded with two brothers in law, Roy Miller of Clearwater, Fl. and John Burkett of St. Petersburg, Fl. releasing a blue marlin and catching a 16 pound dolphin for the win on the final day of fishing which earn them the coveted first place trophy created by Wyland and their named add to the Norman Wood perpetual trophy.

The second place went to the Finesse, captained by Kenny Harris with angler Andy Glynn of Marshfield Mass, and third place was garnered by the Jannace 43, skippered by Ed Wilson of Fort Myers, Fl., with angler Loren Farinelli of Lighthouse Point, Fl.

2007 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

After fishing the Drambuie Key West Marlin tournament for four consecutive years with lackluster results, Jack Strack told his son Jeff he was indecisive about competing in this year’s event. But the owner of the Giggling Marlin, a 56-foot Viking sportfishing boat, decided to enter the 25th anniversary of the tournament anyway. It’s a good thing he did. Jeff Strack released a white marlin and caught a 22.6 pound dolphin Friday, and released a blue marlin Saturday to give the Giggling Marlin team a total of 822.6 points and the $25,000 top cash prize in the tournament’s marlin division.

The blue marlin hit a skirted horse balao at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday, July 21, the third and final day of the tournament. “My mom and I moved up our first beer from 10:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., gave a little to the fish Gods and threw some money out like we always do,” said Jeff Strack, a Chicago grocery executive. “I didn’t even finish (the beer) and the marlin hit.” It took Strack about 25 minutes to bring the fish to the boat. After that release , they continued fishing without success except for a small dolphin that was below the 15-pound minimum required for weigh-in. “Those last two hours (of the tournament) were pretty nerveracking because we didn’t have any idea where we stood in the rankings,” Jeff Strack said.

On Course, skippered by Bill Currie, took second place with releases of a blue marlin and a spearfish by Mike Zalewski of Tampa and Dan Harrington of Terra Verde, FL, respectively.

In third place was Easy Rider skippered by Rob Harris of Cudjoe Key, FL. Harris’ team combined a blue marlin release and catches of a 25.3-pound dolphin and a 39.65-pound wahoo, the largest wahoo of the tournament.

Captain Billy Wickers III, on the charterboat Linda D V, won the tournament’s inaugural Jim Hardie Memorial Trophy for the largest marlin released during the tournament. The impressive fish had an estimated weight of 350 pounds and was caught by angler Micah McDowell of Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Hardie, a former “Miami Herald” outdoors writer who died in 2006, was the first journalist to write about the blue marlin fishery off Key West. In 1981, Captain Norman Wood invited Hardie to Key West for a trip aboard the Petticoat III. When they returned, four marlin flags flew from the outriggers. Three were released and one boated. The headline that followed several days later proclaimed “Hemingway Never Had It So Good.”

Clay Harris of Key West, fishing with his father Captain Ken Harris on the Finesse, caught the largest dolphin at 48.95 pounds. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the tournament attracted 324 participants fishing on 56 boats. The angling field tallied releases of seven blue marlin, two white marlin and the spearfish.

2008 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

The Risky Business team with angler Danny Coll of Big Pine Key, Fl and Captain Jose Saavedra also of Big Pine Key released a Blue Marlin and a White Marlin on Day 3 of the Key West Marlin Tournament to secure a come-from-behind win. The 800 points for the two marlin releases along with 50 points for a sailfish release on Day 2 and 15.6 points for a dolphin weighed-in on Day 3 gave the team a total of 865.6 points.

The Cajun Queen with Captain Greg Eklund of Islamorada and anglers Bob & Brad Whitlock of Ft. Myers, FL was at the top of the leader board starting on Day 1 of the tournament with a Blue Marlin release then kept the lead on Day 2 by weighing in a 33.65 lb. dolphin. They weighed another dolphin for an additional 25.05 points on Day 3 to take second place with 458.7 points.

Third place went to the B.F.B team with Captain/Angler Paul Barret of Gulfport, FL. The B.F.B team began Day 3 of the tournament scoreless yet managed to release a Blue Marlin and a 17.5 lb. dolphin for a total of 417.5 points to beat out six other teams who finished with 400 points.

Fun Fish Division awards went to Reel Conch with a 42.2 lb. dolphin, Kingbird with a 41.8 lb. Dolphin, Cajun Queen with a 33.65 lb Dolphin, Last Dance with a 20.45 lb. Tuna, Outer Limits with a 73.3 lb. Wahoo, Koko with a 67.55 lb. Wahoo and On Course with a 20.15 lb. Wahoo.

2009 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

Cudjoe Key, Fla., veterinarian Rene Cruz, on the Doc Cruiser, won the tournament’s top $25,000 prize with a 23.05-pound dolphin caught Friday and blue marlin released Thursday. Cruz took home the coveted first place trophy after having participated in the event for the past ten years.

Captain Marco Gaona led his angler Jim O’Malley on the Shockchwave to a catch and release of a blue marlin estimated to weigh 550 pounds Saturday. The 400 point release along with a 21.45-pound dolphin that Javier Celis caught on Friday earned them the second place trophy and $10,000.

In third-place was Cracker, skippered by Mark Schultz of Fort Myers Beach, Fla. Cracker’s angler Maurice Gibson of Alva, Fla., caught a 17.8-pound dolphin Friday and released a blue marlin Thursday.

2010 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

This was the year of the oil spill and the tropical storm.  For six weeks before the tournament BP was trying to cap an oil well in the Gulf that was releasing millions of gallons of oil that was forecast to enter into the gulf loop current and come to the Florida Keys, which never happened.  We also had tropical storm warnings during the first day of fishing which fortunately also never materialized.

The Contingent Sea, with angler Clayton Syfrett caught and released the winning marlin in the last hours of the tournament to capture that tournament win.  Second place went to Whiskey Tango, with Steve Doss and in third place was Dream Catcher with angler Brian Wenrick.  The first place dolphin was won by Rob Gothier, Jr. fishing on the Bar South.  The first place tuna was caught by Play Time with angler Michael Cioffi and the first place Wahoo was brought in by Steve Doss on the Whiskey Tango.

The Jim Hardie trophy was awarded to Dave Claffy for his many contributions to the tournament.

2011 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

Two Fort Myers, Florida anglers each caught their first blue marlin to elevate the Moppy Dick II team to the top position and the first place prize.

Dan Richards released his fish, estimated to weigh 125 lbs, on Saturday and his teammate Harry Cameron reeled in his approximately 15,550 lb. marlin on Friday, the second day of the tournament.

Ironically, both fish were caught on the same lure, a green and yellow jethead within a mile of each other and about the same time in the mid-morning.

On Course, captained by Bill Currie of Tampa, Florida took second place with a blue marlin release and two weighed dolphin fish.

Blue Heaven, with Tampa angler Steve Swindle, was third with a released blue marlin and a wahoo.

2012 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

The Risky Business with Danny Coll and Bernard Davis released a white marlin to gain first place and with the $25,000.  

The second place team, was the Reel Darlins an all ladies team with Cyd Tuskowski of St. Petersburg, FL and Laura Russell also from St. Petersburg, FL.

Third place was the Cajun Queen with Captain Greg Eklund and angler Jordan Wolk of Tavernier, FL.

2013 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

Mark Truett made the most of his first saltwater fishing trip, catching and releasing a 500-pound blue marlin to win the tournament. Truett, of Duncan, Okla., needed about 2.5 hours to land the blue. Later that day Bobby Shannon caught a 17.9-pound dolphin to add to the boat’s point total and give High Stakes the $25,000 first-place prize. Capt. Jason Jonas, 27, said that he and his team were a bundle of nerves during the final hours of fishing. “We tried every opportunity to put more points on the board, but all the dolphin we caught were too small.” It didn’t matter. Even though four other teams each released a blue marlin, none of them weighed any fun fish.

Perry Brown, of Jacksonville, released a blue marlin Friday on High Class Hooker, skippered by Gene Chrzanowski, of Key West.

Troy Martin, of Key West, released a blue marlin Saturday on Mr. Z with Key West captain Phil “Curly” McGinn to finish third in the 31-boat fleet.

2014 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament

Gary Eng’s white marlin release, coupled with several dolphin catches, helped team Ruckus win the Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament. Eng released his marlin on the first angling day of the three day angling contest to earn 400 points. The team ended the tournament with 496.75 points, providing Ruckus the edge to capture the $25,000 first place prize. Team Ruckus also caught the largest dolphin of the tournament weighing in at 48.75 pounds.

Second place went to OCD releasing a white marlin on the final day of fishing, by team member John Harris, and releasing a sailfish  by angler Cece Imbrie for a point total of 450.

Third place was captured by High Class Hooker, with angler Jeb Teirney releasing a white marlin and receiving 400 points.

This would become the last tournament to bear the Drambuie name, and a new era would begin with the addition of the Bacardi Oakheart sponsorship.

2015 Bacardi Oakheart Key West Marlin Tournament

 

Cowgirl, skippered by Phil McGinn of Key West, garnered top honors and a $25,000 first-place prize at the 2015  Bacardi Oakheart Key West Marlin. Angler Marty Crews of Mound City, Kansas, released a white marlin on Friday, and Ben Giefer of Leawood, Kansas, released a sailfish on Saturday that proved to be the winning fish. For Giefer, the tournament was his first experience ever fishing in saltwater habitats. “I credit the crew because they put together a game plan specifically targeting sailfish to give us the lead,” Giefer said. “We weren’t on the water for more than 40 minutes and had the fish.”

Blue Heron, skippered by Shannon Fountain of Big Pine Key, Fla., finished in second with a blue marlin released Friday by Mark Knowles of Key Largo, Fla. The team added to its score with a weight dolphin caught Saturday.

In third place for 2015 was Cracker with a blue marlin released Saturday by Mark Schultz of Fort Myers Beach, Fla. Jason Johnston of Johnson City, Tenn., skippered Cracker.