This year’s summer saltwater fishing tournament season has required phenomenal catches to take home victories. Even a few teams that don’t win seem to be bringing in monster fish, much like Team Seaveeche did during the 2016 De Soto Fishing Tournament.
For Seaveeche and Capt. Danny Pool, the tournament almost ended before it began. As the crew headed to the captain’s meeting, the middle of three engines seized up on Pool’s 36-foot Yellowfin. With two engines and the current props, they had far too much weight to get the boat on plane. After hours of phone calls searching for smaller props, Yellowfin CEO Wylie Nagler was their last chance.
“We had 750 gallons of gas, livewells full, ice, safety equipment, everything,” Pool said. “Wylie was able to find us props at the factory that we were able to get the boat on plane with. We wouldn’t have been able to fish without his help.”
Pool’s team had lost hours and its 100-plus mile run would take nearly double the time at 30 mph, as opposed to the 50 mph they anticipated running.
When they reached 1,500 feet of water late Friday night, they started fishing.
“We went straight to swordfishing and hooked the first one within 30 minutes. I think that one broke the leader, and after that we started missing swordfish after swordfish. Broken leader, pulled hooks … everything,” Pool said.
On Saturday morning, they headed to shallower water, 550 feet deep. Three hours went by with only one out-of-season amberjack to show for their efforts. Pool said patience wasn’t easy.
“We were about to give up on that spot. Everyone is kind of waiting around since we could only fish one or two rods at a time,” Pool said. “All of the sudden we see the rod tip go down to the water. No peck, nothing. ‘Dude, that’s a Warsaw,’ I said.”
Andy Denick jumped on the rod. The tug of war on the bottom lasted 20 minutes as the massive fish did its best retreat to a structure. When the battle turned in the angler’s favor and the grouper started to come off the bottom, its air bladder slowly inflated, making the remaining 5 minutes to the surface a matter of constant reeling.
“We were all excited. Guessing how big, we thought it was probably 225 to 250 pounds, maybe 275. Jay Travis and Justin Hey put gaffs in its mouth and lifted it, while we tied a rope off to it, pulling just enough to get it over the gunnel and into the boat.”
The beast would chill in a gigantic fish bag for the next 24 hours as the team went back to fishing for other species. After more bad luck with lost swordfish, they filled their fish box with a 39-pound kingfish, 35-pound yellowedge grouper, two 4-pound mahi and a scamp grouper.
When they arrived at the scales Sunday afternoon, it was all hands on deck. The massive Warsaw grouper was hoisted to the scale, where it would weigh in at 290 pounds.
Lacking billfish cost them points, as they would end up in fourth place, but all was not lost with the unforgettable memory of a huge Warsaw grouper.
Source: U.S. Naval Observatory data