BRADENTON -- One of the biggest crowds in the 30-year history of the Crosthwait Memorial Tournament turned out Sunday at the Bradenton Yacht Club to view the weigh-in.
With beautiful weather and temperatures in the mid-80s, anglers made long runs to and from the fishing grounds, bringing home huge catches and pleasing the large crowd.
The victorious teams were familiar as two 2011 division winners reclaimed their titles.
Winning inshore boat team CK Andros was so confident of its catch, the crew spent most of Saturday night at home.
"We were done fishing by 10:30 p.m. Saturday," said Capt. Steve Brownlee of CK Andros, which landed a $5,000 check for the easy victory. "We caught the 40-inch snook and decided to go home and sleep. We had all six of our point fish by then."
Brownlee is familiar with big Crosthwait checks. He fished with team Plan B, winning five times, and then won the Inshore Division in 2011 as captain of CK Andros.
It will be Brownlee's last Crosthwait, he said. Next up will be the Firefighters tournament in June.
Brownlee and mates Ben Bradford, Andy Lasada and Mike Bergman traveled nearly 110 miles during the tournament.
Along with the whopping snook, CK Andros landed a crowd-pleasing 58-pound cobia, 28-pound cobia, 32-inch snook and two 23-inch trout for 446 points, the highest point total of any inshore winner since the inshore and offshore champs split into separate divisions in 1999.
"We knew cobia were going to be worth big points," Brownlee said. "It's a secretive fishery. Let's just say we were on near-shore wrecks."
It was a different story for offshore champions Seaveeche, which didn't think its catch worthy of a weigh-in. It needed every minute to catch six fish. As of 3 p.m. Saturday Seaveeche didn't have one fish worthy of weighing in.
"We called our wives Saturday evening on the satellite phone saying we didn't think it was going to be worth weighing in," Capt. Danny Pool said. "We caught two hammerheads and two makos while swordfishing Fri
day night, then many sharks during the day Saturday, too. That was a huge letdown."
Pool's team of Jay Travis, Justin Hey and Brian Beukema stayed positive and their luck changed.
"We caught the 79- and 56-pound amberjack after that and kept fishing," Pool said.
Seaveeche then quickly pulled in a large 21-pound Kitty Mitchell grouper, and 16- and 15-pound blackfin tunas.
"We made one more stop on the way in where we caught the 30-pound Warsaw grouper," Pool said.
The Warsaw made the difference as Seaveeche ended with 419 points to edge team Hookers with 407.
For their victory Seaveeche earned $3,000. Most will go back toward the 500 gallons of gas used traveling nearly 600 miles in the Gulf of Mexico.
Team Hooker Capt. Ken Cummings caught the fish of the tournament with a spectacular 84-pound wahoo.
"We were swordfishing at night when the wahoo hit," Cummings said.
The long wahoo forced the weigh-in crew to adjust the scale as its tail was touching the deck. Hooker also weighed in 15- and 13-pound mahi mahis, 22- and 19-pound blackfin tunas and 10-pound red grouper.
Third place offshore went to team Haulin Grass and Capt. Brian Turner with 362 points. They weighed in five fish, after using their sixth fish, a 25-pound tuna, for bait to catch a 117-pound Warsaw grouper in 780 feet of water.
Their other fish included a 20-pound tuna, 27-pound snowy grouper, and 61-and 37-pound amberjacks. The bait tuna would have been worth 70 points, which could have put them in first place.
Last year's inshore champions, Locomotive Breath and Capt. Bryce Johnson, finished runner-up in the Inshore Division with 42- and 41-inch snook, respectively, 31- and 28-inch redfish and 27- and 25-inch trout for 388 points.
Third place inshore went to Capt. Darek Timoszuk and Team Godzilla with 349 points from two 35-inch snook, 40- and 29-inch redfish and 25- and 22-inch trout.
Last years top two Under-19 Division Capts. Spencer Heintz and Michael Wenzel teamed to win first place in the Under-19 Division this year with crew members Alex Wright, Shayna Luchte and Kiana Navarrete, who compiled 322 points for team Bust-A-Knot.
Their catch included 36- and 35-inch snook, two 30-inch redfish and 24- and 23-inch trout.
It is the third year in a row Wenzel has won a Crosthwait title after winning last year's Under-19 Division and 2011's Under-16 Division.
Second place in the under-19 went to team Haulin Grass Inshore and Capt. Brett Uselton. The catch included a 34- and 33-inch snook, 28- and 22-inch trout, and 3- and 2-pound flounders for 308 points.
Third place went to Team God-Given and Capt. David Contarino with 267 points off a 35- and 30-inch snook, 33-inch redfish, 22- and 19-inch trouts and a 1-pound flounder.
The Under-16 Division went to team Contemporary Cabinets and 14-year-old Capt. Garrett Richelieu. His team caught a 25- and 24-inch snook, 23- and 20-inch trout, 28-inch redfish and a 5-pound flounder for 236 points.