BRADENTON -- As storms poured down Saturday evening in the middle of the 16th annual De Soto Memorial Fishing Tournament, team Action Yamaha's Jimmy Campbell and Tyler Orban didn't mind.
"The best bite was in and around the storms," said Campbell, who won the event in 2011. "Every time a storm got near, the fish fired up." So good in fact, that Campbell once again claimed victory in the inshore division catching a 40- and 39-inch snook, two 35-inch redfish, a 25-inch trout, and a 3-pound flounder for 292 points.
"We fished everywhere
from New Pass to the Skyway. We fished all night, when we caught the snook, and up until the weigh-in," said the 19-year-old captain-to-be Campbell, who donated back $400 of his winnings from last year's tournament after paying off his tuition at the University of South Florida.
The anglers will fish the Sarasota Slam tournament next in August as they look to continue team Action Yamaha's successful run of tournament victories. For their win, the teammates claimed $5,000.
In the offshore division, anglers fished through windier than expected weather. With windy, unpredictable conditions, comes good billfishing.
"The bite was good, but we were unlucky," said Capt. Scott Rickert, who is one of the best billfishing anglers on the west coast of Florida. "We went 0-for-3 while trolling for billfish before catching the blue marlin."
"The seas were sloppy, probably 4 to 6 feet with the occasional 7-footer. We took waves over the bow constantly but the good fishing made it worth it."
Along with the blue marlin caught in 750 feet of water Saturday afternoon, Rickert's team Real Screamers had already landed a swordfish early Saturday morning. The swordfish was brought to the scales and placed along side a 70-pound Warsaw grouper, two 17-pound red snapper and a 19-pound gag grouper.
The committee struggled to get the swordfish placed on the scale. It weighed in around 125 pounds. Fishing in a 28-foot Regulator, Rickert's team totaled 602 points, claiming first place in the offshore division.
Team The Dirt Draggar and Capt. Gordon Daniher also brought a 42-pound swordfish to the scale. They released another swordfish, caught a 22-pound kitty mitchell grouper, 20-pound snowy grouper, 14-pound red snapper and 29-pound wahoo. Their 521-point total was good for second place in the offshore division.
Team Seaveeche claimed third place in the offshore division, captained by Jay Travis. They also caught and released a swordfish. They brought an 86-pound Warsaw grouper, 18-pound wahoo, 12-pound red snapper and two blackfin tuna at 30- and 24-pounds to the docks for 459 points.
Team Wilson and Capt. Zack Mcclary landed a 42-inch snook to go along with a 40-inch snook, 29- and 28-inch redfish, and two trout at 26-inches for 286 points and second place in the inshore division.
Third place inshore went to Capt. Trey Diehl and team Reel Diehl. They had the largest redfish at 38-inches, another 31-inch redfish, 31-inch snook, 23-inch trout, 26-inch trout and a 2-pound flounder, totaling 273 points.
The second year of the spear fishing division was won by boat Taylor Marine and Capt. James Taylor. They shot and weighed in a 12- and 11-pound grouper, a 6- and a 5-pound red snapper, and two hogfish at 6 and 5 pounds.
The junior's division was won by team Bust-A-Knot captained by Spencer Heintz. They landed a 30- and 28-inch snook, 25- and 24-inch redfish, 25-inch trout and a 1-pound flounder.
There were a total of 40 inshore boats, 11 offshore boats, five junior's division boats, and three spear fishing boats. The weigh-in was held at Tarpon Point Marina and Grill for the first time, as well.
On Saturday, Tarpon Point Marina and Grill played host to 45 kids who participated in the Pee Wee division, fishing off the dock. All participants won tackle boxes and awards. The Pee Wees caught many fish, including sheepshead, snapper and ladyfish.