Capt Al’s 44-Pounder Wins Florida Keys Dolphin Championship
by Andy Newman
A Key West angler caught a 44-pound dolphin fish that earned his Fishing team first place overall and $20,700 in the inaugural Florida Keys Dolphin Championship. The innovative Memorial Day Weekend challenge, whose rules allowed fishing anywhere in Keys waters, ended May 26.
Capt Al, who also captained the boat, was fishing with Fort Pierce, Fla., residents Juan Soto, Jenny Soto and Eric Soto. They were 30 miles south of Boca Chica Key on the tournament’s first day when Ware caught the winning dolphin.
“I was on the other side of the Gulf Stream,” said Ware, who reported boating the fish after about a 20-minute fight. “I figured everybody would fish on this side, so I went to the other side.”
Second-place overall honors went to team Half Time, captained by Spencer Deno of Miami, with a 41-pound dolphin caught by Miami angler Chris Deno. The team, also consisting of Tanya Toro, Adam Toro and Miami’s Carl Deno, took home $11,270.
Team Contagious, skippered by Captain Brian Cone of Islamorada, Fla., finished in third place overall. Angler Don DeLeon of Miami caught a 39.74-pound dolphin that earned the team $12,550. Other Contagious teammates were Islamorada’s Bill Keller and Travis Bennett of Tavernier, Fla.
The largest dolphin caught by a junior angler was a 21.58-pounder boated by 7-year-old John Searcy of Key West. The young champion fished on the Lightly, captained by his father, also named John Searcy.
Crissy Wejebe of Summerland Key, Fla., scored a 23.96-pound fish that was the largest caught by a female angler. She fished aboard Sea Boots with Captain Jim Sharpe Sr.
The two-day tournament attracted 76 boats and more than 300 anglers, according to founder Mike Weinhofer.