As 2018 comes to a close, it may be remembered historically more for the negatives than for some memorable catches.
Most infamous was red tide, which dominated headlines from late spring into the winter months. Despite its short- and long-term impacts, anglers over the past year brought home a few catches to relive from another great year of fishing.
In January, Capt. Jason Stock started the year off catching monster amberjack aboard his 23-foot single engine Hanson. Stock took monster baits to nearshore wrecks where he boated a 78- and 74-pound amberjack. He’ll most likely be targeting them once again in the months to come.
In early May, Matthew Miller and Justin Eagles were fishing in about 60 feet of water when the catch of a lifetime would come up from below. After a 30-minute fight, Eagles landed an enormous cubera snapper at 71 pounds, something extremely rare for that shallow in our area.
May’s Crosthwait Memorial Fishing tournament had huge fish brought to the scales, but none were bigger than team Seaveeche’s 293-pound Warsaw grouper. The monster was caught from nearly 800 feet of water with a 20-pound bait.
In early June, Capt. Joseph Dephillips landed a huge wahoo around 70 pounds while fishing offshore in about 120 feet of water. Later on the same day, he ran across multiple whale sharks, something that would be spotted by many other anglers throughout the summer months.
Later in June, a crazy inshore division of the 11th Annual Fire Charity Fishing Tournament resulted in three teams at the top of the leaderboard having an identical points total. With 404 points, Team Godzilla won on a tiebreaker, beating out Team MyCo Trailers and Team Skeeter with Capt. TJ Stewart. Team Godzilla had a huge catch of a 44- and 39-inch snook, 24- and 23-inch trout, and a pair of 33-inch redfish.
The offshore division was won by team Sea Saw with a catch that included a near mutton snapper world record, weighing in at 26.8 pounds.
In July, Capt. Josh Prunier ran into possibly the biggest gag grouper caught this year. The grouper weighed in at 59.7 pounds and was caught in 210 feet of water using a pinfish on a knocker rig. Crazily enough, that was caught on only 30-pound test.
In October, Capt. TJ Stewart would have his best slam fishing tournament at the Yerrid Fishing Tournament. His goal has always been a redfish, snook and trout slam totaling 100 inches. He came up just short by coming up just shy at 99.25 inches with a 44.75-inch snook, 33-inch redfish, and 21.5-inch trout, still plenty enough for the win.
Last month, a huge payday helped end the year for the Cherko family at the King of the Beach. Their 46.82-pound kingfish took home a paycheck of $94,970.
What will happen in 2019? I’m excited to find out!