123 boats cleared Hillsboro Inlet on Saturday May 9th, in hopes of claiming their piece of the $171,000 cash purse up for grabs in the 17th Annual Mercury/SeaVee Pompano Beach Saltwater Shootout. Weighing heavy on the minds of the fishing fleet just prior to the 7am Bimini start was the Pick 3. In this added value category, 3 of the 5 eligible species (dolphin, wahoo, kingfish, blackfin tuna and cobia) are drawn from a sealed container on the morning of the tournament. The 3 fish that are drawn are the 3 fish that must be caught for the chance to win the money in the pot. It just so happens that the pot was in excess of $55,000 for the first leg of the 2015 summer series! 3 consecutive pulls from the Pick 3 container yielded the letters K, D & W. And so it was set, a weighable kingfish, dolphin and wahoo could be worth over $55,000 to the team that landed all 3 provided they were entered into the added value category.
Light winds and calm seas made for challenging fishing conditions on tournament day. Team Hoo’s Naked didn’t let that stop them from finding the fish. They stayed close to home fishing off the steeple in their 21’ Mercury powered center console, once again proving that you don’t have to run far or have a big boat to be competitive in these events. Captain Ross Buehrer and his Hoo’s Naked crew landed 3 kings, 2 dolphin, 1 wahoo and a tuna for a grand total of 138 points and a 2nd place finish good for a $10,680 paycheck in the Shootout! Hoo’s Naked was also the only team in the 123 boat fleet to bring the KDW trio to the scales, however, they were not entered in the category so the pot will roll over into the 2nd leg of the series on June 13th, where it is expected to exceed $65,000!
Hoo’s Naked wasn’t the only team to enjoy success fishing relatively close to home in the Shootout. Bryce Statham, owner of Blue Moon Fish Company, and his captain Jim Oliver of Shameless Live Bait, spent the majority of their day combing the waters off Boynton Beach for their winning catch. And, win they did. They posted 4 kingfish and 3 tuna for a total of 145.4 points and the 1st place victory in the tournament. After years of scratching and clawing to try and find his way to the top of the leader board in a PBSC event, it all came together for Bryce and his team at the first leg of the 2015 series. Together, team Blue Moon/Shameless knocked down almost $18,000 in prize money along with the Top Male Angler award for Captain Jim Oliver and the Top Family award for the team as well.
The biggest payday in the 2015 Mercury/SeaVee Saltwater Shootout went to the 3rd place team. Captain Rich Sujat and his SKA team onboard Lunasea made a longer run to fish the waters off Jupiter but it proved to be a run worth making. The first bait in the water on tournament morning landed them a 48.9 lb kingfish. That fish turned out to be the heaviest kingfish of the tournament as well as the single heaviest fish of all species weighed. That one fish was worth over $28,000 alone to the team! But, they were not done there! Later in the day they bagged another monster king at 48.2 pounds that turned out to be the 2nd heaviest king and 2nd heaviest fish overall for the tournament! They added a 26.7 lb king later in the day to push them into the 3rd place spot on the leader board and added another $10,000 plus to their earnings for a total of $38,362!
The 4th place spot in the tournament went to Off the Wall with 110.8 pounds of fish followed by D&D in 5th with 110.5 pounds of fish. The Top Female Angler title was awarded to Valentina Paz of Preferred Marine Fishing Team with 53.5 points. Hunter Irvine on Young Guns was the Top Junior Angler with 59.8 points and Christina Diaz on High Gear was the Top Pee-wee Angler with 74.3 points. The heaviest dolphin of the tournament, a 35 pounder, went to Rick Stephano of team Bonefish Mac’s. David Segal of team Pauly’s World landed the heaviest blackfin tuna at 37.6 pounds and Zack Krouman of 8th Avenue Fishing Team landed the heaviest cobia at 44.7 pounds.
The exciting 3-leg PBSC summer series continues June 10 – 14 with its second leg, the Mercury/SeaVee Pompano Beach Saltwater Slam. With an estimated $65,000 pot up for grabs in the Pick 3 category during the Slam, there’s bound to be some excitement at the scales in June! Registration for the Saltwater Slam is currently open at www.saltwaterslam.com
For a complete list of results from the Saltwater Shootout, visit www.saltwatershootout.com