The Sarasota Slam fishing tournament out of Marina Jacks is a bit different than most summer tournaments. It rewards diversity, paying first for the biggest fish in a variety of species. The species are split into inshore and offshore categories. Within the offshore division, some teams were fishing the second leg of the Florida West Coast Bluewater Series.
Team Jumbo Shrimp took home first place in the billfish division with 601 release points as well as first place wahoo with a 44.92-pounder. The billfish division win paid $21,000, while the wahoo division added another $2,992.
“We covered around 500 miles,” team captain Paul Christie said. “We entered the Bluewater Series to get more experience trolling, and to hopefully catch a blue (marlin)!” During this leg, the team’s perseverance paid off as they were rewarded their first blue marlin, helping to propel them to the win. They currently sit on top of the points standings heading into the final leg at the upcoming Old Salt Loop Billfish Tournament from August 15-19.
Team For Now followed up in the billfish division in second place, with 430 release points.
Team Haulin Grass brought home a beautiful yellowfin tuna at 94.52 pounds to win the tuna division. “We came across them in about 1,200 feet. There are a lot of yellowfin tuna off our coast, people just don’t really know it,” said Brian Turner of Haulin’ Grass.
The winning tuna paid $6,650. Second-place tuna went to team No Limit at 63.74 pounds.
Team Sea Hawk claimed a sweep in the dolphin division with a 25.82- and 20.36-pound fish for first and second place, totaling $7,124 in prizes.
Swordfish was won by Team Hooker with a 117.78-pounder for $7,837.50, while second place was claimed by Team Galati at 40.32 pounds.
In the biggest surprise of the tournament, a 12.24-pound gag won the grouper division. Team Sea Saw almost didn’t even weigh the fish, thinking it wouldn’t be enough.
“We ran out to a warsaw spot and the loop current was right on top of it and it was screaming,” said team member BJ Grant. “We could see them on the sound but couldn’t get them to hit.” Last year the team won the grouper division with a 226-pound warsaw grouper.
“We were very close to not weighing in and just fishing for warsaws at other spots in the evening, but we decided to come in with 10 minutes to spare.” That decision won the team $4,000.
Second-place grouper went to Rigger Please, at 9.04 pounds. Rigger Please also brought home the first-place snapper with a 37.92-pound cubera, winning $3,900. The aptly named Snapper Trapper would capture the second-place snapper at 12.1 pounds.
Team Fat Bottom Girl would win the wildcard division with a 31.46-pound cobia for $1,000.
In the inshore division, the successful Captain TJ Stewart and Team Skeeter brought home the title in the redfish division with an 8.18-pound fish, winning $2,900.
“We caught about 10 redfish, but not more than four in one spot,” Stewart said. “We fished all the way from Cockroach Bay to south Sarasota Bay.”
“I got to fish with my son and his buddy, it was fun. I think they were more excited about the trashcan slam than anything.”
The second-place redfish prize went to Team Hobson’s at 7.64 pounds.
Team Myco Trailers captured first place in the trout division, winning $2,900, weeding through over 100 and catching a 3.19-pounder for the victory. “Fishing was tough, we caught a lot of trout. We ended up weighing in the smallest trout you’d ever weigh in,” said Beau Bell. “The one we weighed in was the first one caught. It’s been tough trout fishing this year.”
Second-place trout went to team Monark at 3.09 pounds.
The trash can slam went to team G Force Fishing Charters at 8.3 pounds, paying out $1,000.
Juniors division winners included Lucas Engle and Ethan Bieslin with a 3.36-pound trout, and Tyson Londeree with a 8.68-pound grouper.