In a field of nearly 60 inshore boats, a familiar group of anglers once again stood atop the stage at the Bradenton Yacht Club to collect a whopping $10,000 during the 34th annual Crosthwait Memorial Fishing Tournament last weekend.
The record payout had anglers going all out across the west coast of Florida, with some running far offshore for inshore species or fishing through a barrage of storms Saturday night. By the end of Sunday afternoon’s fishing, the FL Fishing Team stuck to the traditional inshore slam to bring home the victory in the six-fish, rodeo-style tournament.
“We didn’t try to go offshore and get permit or go cobia fishing,” team captain Vinny DeCarbo said. “In the past, we spent so much time cobia fishing. This year we put it into redfish and it paid off.”
With the additional option to now start from either the St. Petersburg Yacht Club or Sarasota’s Marina Jack, DeCarbo and crew stayed with the traditional Manatee River shotgun start. After getting bait prior to the tournament, they were off with the fleet of boats at 7:30 a.m. Their plan was to get redfish, then snook, then fill it out with a tarpon and trout.
Early fishing had DeCarbo thinking luck might not be on his side. “I had a huge redfish up to the boat, it was over 40 inches,” said DeCarbo. “It spit the hook. That was tough.”
It wasn’t long until another showed itself. “About five minutes later, we hooked another monster and caught that one. I’m still trying to convince myself it was the same fish so I don’t feel as bad.”
That monster redfish went 42 inches. Along with a 35-inch redfish, the team was off to a quality start.
After unsuccessfully chasing snook, they changed focus to tarpon. Within their second drift, a tarpon was hooked, but a bit larger than DeCarbo and team would hope for. “It was probably 120 pounds and took us an hour to catch. I was a nervous wreck because sharks tried to eat it about four different times.”
The rest of Saturday evening into Sunday the team chased snook. It wasn’t until Sunday morning when they would finally find a pair of 38-inch linesiders. Along with a 22-inch trout, the total of 419 points would run away with it to beat a competitive field. During the course of the tournament, DeCarbo says they covered water all over the area and burned nearly 100 gallons of gas.
Second place with 382 points was team Myco Trailers and Capt. Beau Bell. Their catch included 46- and 36-inch snook, 41- and 36-inch redfish, 20-inch trout and one-pound flounder.
With 377 points Capt. Justin Teachey and team Pool Works Construction brought home third place. Their catch included a 28- and 16-pound permit, 38- and 34-inch snook, 18-inch trout and a tarpon.
Along with the victory in the inshore division over the weekend, DeCarbo was part of Capt. TJ Stewart’s team that won the Crosthwait’s inaugural Friday River Masters tournament. Their one day slam included a 40-inch snook, 36-inch redfish and 22-inch trout.
Source: U.S. Naval Observatory data