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No Team Out

Slow fishing, tight competition allows all four teams to fish the final day

By: By Mike Holliday,

BOKEELIA, Fla. -- Tension was high on the dock this afternoon, after a somewhat slow second day of fishing in the three-day 2012 Madfin Shark Tournament in Southwest Florida. All four teams scored points for shark releases, but the legendary monster bull and hammerhead sharks of nearby Boca Grande Pass and Charlotte Harbor remained elusive, possibly due to windy conditions that have muddied the waters.

“The butterflies are jumping all around in my stomach right now,” Paul Michele of Team Vicious said as he prepared for the announcement of which team would be eliminated from the competition. “I know at least one team had action late.”

During the Madfin Shark Tournament, four teams fish the first two days, with the team earning the lowest point total after Day Two eliminated from the final day of fishing. None of the teams know the catches and scores of the other competitors until they’re announced.

Fortunately for one team, Madfin Shark Tournament directors decided that the slow fishing was not indicative of the typical action found in Southwest Florida that time of the year, and decided to allow the team with the lowest point total to stave off elimination and fish the final day of the tournament.

Team Vicious Strikes with Capt. Rob Moore and Paul Michele held onto their Day One lead while scoring the lowest number of points on Day Two behind the release of a bull shark — the first shark of the day — at 9:28 a.m. After scoring bonus points for the largest shark on Day One, Team Vicious Strikes elected to run back to the section of hard bottom five miles offshore of Redfish Pass that produced multiple bull sharks during their day of prefishing.

The decision paid off with the bonus points for first fish on Day Two, beating Team Red Zone’s catch, a 5-foot, 5-inch blacktip shark at 9:30 a.m. by two minutes. After an encouraging start, the bite shut down, and Team Vicious Strikes made a move midday to a flat, where they hooked and release three nurse sharks (removing the hook from all three).

“The day started off real good with a bull on our offshore spot, then we just sat and sat,” Capt. Rob Moore said. “We made a couple of moves, then saw that storm coming in, so we moved inside and sat inside Redfish Pass where we got bombarded by nurse sharks. Then we moved inside Captiva Pass and caught one shark after another, and every one of them was under five feet.”

Madfin Shark Tournament rules require sharks to be a minimum of five feet in length in order to qualify for points.

Team Vicious strikes scored 300 points for the bull shark catch, another 300 points for successfully retrieving the hook, along with 250 bonus points for landing the first shark of the day, giving them 800 points for the day, and a two-day total of 1,950 points.

Team Redzone, in second place after Day One with 400 points, scored 300 points for catching their blacktip and retrieving the hook, lifting their spirits. Team Redzone was drifting bonito and barracuda strips near the Cape Hayes Reef, an 18-foot deep section of hard bottom just inshore of Boca Grande Pass, an area known for producing large bull and hammerhead sharks.

Their day passed slowly with only one other run, a fish they missed. The majority of Team Redzone’s excitement came with the approach of a late afternoon thunderstorm, followed by the day’s late drama when they hooked a big shark three minutes before the daily call for lines out. Madfin Shark Tournament Rules allow fish hooked before the lines out call to count, as long as the shark is landed and the team is back at the dock within one hour after lines out.

“We moved a couple of times and tried the harbor, hid for a little while in a shack during the lightning, and then went back out with about 30 minutes left. We figured we had time for one more drift, and got the eat we’d been looking for for two days,” Capt. Mike Manis said.

Team Redzone caught their 6-foot bull shark worth 300 points just 16 minutes after lines out, removed the hook for another 300 points, and were back at the dock at the Bokeelia Tarpon Lodge with 22 minutes to spare and 900 points for the day off two shark releases. Their total was 1,300 points.

“The wind had picked up and it was pushing against the tide, which took us about 500 yards out of our normal drift. That fish ate a chunk of barracuda. We tail snared it, and it was a beast, but it was hooked right in the lip so it was easy to get the hook out,” Manis said.

In last place with 100 points on Day One, Team Hoke scored 900 points on the day based on a two-hour flurry of action they found in a cut inside Captiva Pass. After successfully catching and removing the hook from a nurse shark at 12:15 for no points, the team landed a lemon shark and removed the hook at 1 p.m. for 600 points, followed by a catch and successful hook removal on a blacktip shark at 2 p.m. for another 300 points. Team Hoke ended the day with 1,000 points.

“We had all of our action at one time, and we missed two or three fish at the end, just due to stupid stuff,” Capt. Dave Hoke said. “It’s just slow fishing right now. We lost one really big fish right at the boat when the leader popped. We probably needed that fish to remain in the competition.”

The day’s slowest action went to Team Tenacity with former gator wrestler and venomous snake handler Capt. Bo Johnson and his girlfriend Deidra Bridger, scoring only one shark release, albeit the largest of the day.

With a 7-foot bull shark that ate a chunk of mullet on the bottom, Team Tenacity scored 300 points for the catch, another 300 for successfully removing the hook, and 500 bonus points for Big Fish.

“We had a tough day,” Johnson said. “We had three others on, all big fish. We pulled the hook on one, had one bite through the mono and one broke us off. We had four opportunities, and when fishing is tough you have to make them all count.”

Team tenacity went into Day Two in third place with 350 points, and finished with 1,450 points, good for second place after Day Two.

All four teams will now fish the final day of competition, with Team Hoke getting a reprieve from elimination and still within striking distance of a win.

With tensions high and every team wondering if it was their last day on the water, Tommy Sanders read off the daily point totals and two-day totals, before announcing that Team Hoke, with the lowest point total, would remain in the competition to fish the last day.

“I’m happy we’re still in it,” Bill Hoke said. “We just need to catch one or two big fish and get those bonus points, and we can win it. It’s not over yet.”

Madfin Statistics
Day Two Standings Day One Points Day Two Points Total Points
Team Vicious Strikes 1,100 Points 850 Points 1,950 Points
Team Tenacity 350 Points 1,100 Points 1,450 Points
Team Redzone 400 Points 900 Points 1,300 Points
Team Hoke 100 Points 900 Points 1,000 Points

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