Team No Limit overcomes engine trouble to win billfish division of Sarasota Slam

Dave Monda’s team, No Limit, lost the starboard engine while battling this blue marlin about 170 miles offshore.
Dave Monda’s team, No Limit, lost the starboard engine while battling this blue marlin about 170 miles offshore. Photo provided

Ten years ago, David Monda won the billfish division of the Sarasota Slam after losing an engine.

At the time, he was in a large sport fishing boat, a Viking, much more suited to handle the scary situation.

Now Monda is the owner of a 36-foot Yellowfin equipped with twin Yamaha 350s. As Monda and team No Limit ventured offshore during the second leg of the Florida West Coast Bluewater Series portion of the 2018 Sarasota Slam, they noticed an issue while more than 170 miles offshore.

“At the start we chugged our way out through stormy weather and bad seas,” Monda said. “When we stopped the starboard engine was making a squeal, and there’s nothing much you can do out there but pray it lasts until the end of the tournament.

“We figured it was a belt but don’t carry replacements for something like that.”

The first night, No Limit was able to catch a small swordfish.

When the sun rose on Day 2, trolling began and the team landed mahi mahi before running for different water.

“I decided to run south, and that’s where we hooked into a blue marlin. We fought it for an hour and were able to get pictures, tag it and release it. As soon as that happened we lost the engine,” Monda described.

“While fighting the fish we had to throttle back and forward hard and the stress probably did too much. That was 172 miles from shore.”

After clearing up from the blue marlin fight and assessing their situation, the team was now dealing with even rougher seas, complicating matters more. Trolling back to shore would take around 30 hours but was the safest option.

“We chugged into 900 feet to swordfish that night. At 6 a.m. we started chugging in again and trolled the whole way. It took about 29 hours to get back to Marina Jacks.”

The team lost more than a night and day of fishing time.

By tagging their marlin for bonus points, the catch brought in 521 points. The bonus points were enough to edge out the potential tie with team South Paw, which caught a blue marlin before No Limit. Team Keep ‘Em Tight would also tag and release a blue marlin for 521 points, but the catch was made a day after No Limit.

No Limit would take the win and $20,947.50.

Next weekend, the third and final leg of the Florida West Coast Bluewater Series will come to an end at the 47th Annual Old Salt LOOP Billfish Tournament. Teams will leave Wednesday and fish until Saturday, returning to Marina Cantina for weigh-in.

Three teams are currently tied with 521 points, while South Paw is slightly behind with 501 for the series crown.

Other winners at the Bluewater series include team Haulin’ Grass taking the swordfish division at 83.56 pounds, Jumbo Shrimp winning tuna with 107.18 pounds and dolphin at 26.1 pounds, and Twisted Bills winning wahoo at 28.12 pounds.

During the Friday through Saturday Sarasota Slam, team Reel Finesse won grouper with a 193.34-pound warsaw grouper, Seasaw won snapper at 6.64 pounds, and Dirt Dragger won wildcard with an 86.08-pound amberjack in the offshore divisions.

The inshore divisions were won by team Tide Rables with a 7.04-pound redfish and Myco Trailers with a 3.68-pound trout.