Catch and release fishing
For 36 years, the Crosthwait Memorial Fishing Tournament has brought crowds of spectators to the Bradenton Yacht Club to see the thrill of offshore boats weighing in their catches.
Over the past few years, more big fish have come to the scales than at any other point in the tournament’s history.
Despite maxing out at 100 pounds for a fish, warsaw grouper continue to be an absolute crowd-pleaser.
With recent improvements in everything from gear and electronics to boat and engine reliability, most of the offshore extreme division teams have the ability to land one of these monsters from the deep.
Warsaw fishing is specialized deep dropping with monster baits. With good weather for this weekend’s tournament, don’t be surprised if a few more return to the docks and need the yacht club’s sailboat crane to help get them out of the boat.
Last year featured a 293-pound warsaw grouper landed by Team Seaveeche. That fish required the team to unscrew the hinges on their fishbox to just get it out and up to the dock.
In the process, it straightened out a gaff and when the meat started to be filleted, it broke the knife.
Three years ago, team Jumbo Shrimp required the assistance of the crane to get its monster out of the fishbox and up to the scales. When it finally reached the scale, it came in at an unbelievable 347 pounds.
Additionally big swordfish, wahoo, queen snapper and other deepwater grouper species tend to make an appearance at the scales. With the newly added nearshore division and the spearfishing division, there will be many varieties and sizes of fish brought to the docks of the Bradenton Yacht Club.
In the inshore division, more competition will be awaiting anglers who fish this tournament annually. For the first time, local charter captains will be allowed to compete in the previously amateur only event.
Many of the guides I have spoken to don’t plan on fishing, but big names such as Capt. TJ Stewart will be participating.
The inshore catches will serve as a “state of the fishery,” with most going for the biggest fish possible.
After a tumultuous year it will be interesting to hear how it was for the best local anglers.
The weigh in will begin around noon Sunday with offshore boats needing to be in line by 3 p.m. at the Bradenton Yacht Club. Parking is available in the open field across from the entrance.