Under clear skies and temperatures in the low 70’s, the 5th Annual Fish For Holly Sailfish Tournament kicked off at PostCard Inn Resort & Marina on January 6th, 2023. A record number of people came out to support the tournament and its cause with 346 anglers on 74 boats. Of those anglers, 160 women, 186 men and 24 junior anglers competed for an array of prizes. Tournament participants and boats were from the local Islamorada area, as well as all over the country!
With a magnificent sunrise and simultaneous moon set, the fishing day began on January 7th. At 8am, lines hit the water. The day started off hot with numerous singles and doubles of sailfish hooked up in the first half hour. The Dauntless, with Capt. Jim Hendrix and his wife/angler Caroline Hendrix, managed to get the first release of the day. That excitement was followed by 88 sailfish released with 3rd place overall boat grabbing their spot in the last five minutes before lines out at 3pm.
The Olympic Gold out of Islamorada, FL with Capt. Doug Mientkiewicz finished in 3rd Place with 4 sailfish. My Sea Cin out of Islamorada, FL with Capt. Raymond Biaz finished in 2nd Place with 4 sailfish, and 1st place, Grand Champion Boat was Felix out of Islamorada with 4 sailfish winning on time with Captain Kevin Clark, Captain Dave Morris, anglers Shelby Morris, Tyler Valles, Jill Dahl, Kevin Dahl and Connie Clark. The Grand Champion boat Felix will be added to the Release Marine Heart Hook Perpetual Trophy that resides at The Tackle Center of Islamorada.
Individual angler awards were handed to Top Male, Top Female, Top Junior, as well as the Overall Angler. Top Male and Overall Grand Champion angler was awarded to Billy Wood on the Reel Hawk, with Captain Taylor Walsh out of Ocean Reef, FL who caught 2 sailfish on time. Second Place Angler was Jill Dahl from Ohio on the Felix with Captain Kevin Clark, out of Islamorada, FL who caught 2 sailfish. Third Place Overall Angler was Andrea Barber, from Michigan on the Main One/Main Attraction with Capt. Marty Lewis, out of Marathon, FL.
The Top Female Angler award was given out to Jill Dahl on the Felix with 2 sailfish on time who traveled from Ohio to fish her first sailfish tournament. By tournament tradition, Jill was awarded a fish hook diamond necklace in honor of Holly Given who always was wearing her fish hook necklace to express her passion for fishing and being on the water. Honorable mentions of second and third place females with 2 sailfish released each go to Andrea Barber on the Main One/Main Attraction and Susan McCart on the The Provider with Capt. Brooks Gregory out of Bud n’ Mary’s Marina.
Top Male and Overall Angler Billy Wood on the Reel Hawk out of Ocean Reef, FL was awarded a hand painted bottle of Papa’s Pilar Rum by Tournament Artist,
Dennis Friel with company Connected By Water. Second place male angler was Rick Arnold on the Shifty One with 2 sailfish out of Islamorada, FL, and third place male angler was Chris Deleo on the Kimbuktu out of Lighthouse Point, FL.
The Junior Angler division was won by Sawyer Hendrix, on the Fearless with 1 sailfish on time, captained by his father Joey Hendrix out of Bud n’ Mary’s Marina. 2nd place junior angler was Jilian Schaftstall on the Blue Heaven with 1 sailfish captained by Skye Stanley out of Robbie’s Marina. 3rd place junior angler was Lela Goodrich with 1 sailfish aboard the Fearless.
Fun Fish awards were given to the angler with the heaviest Tuna, Wahoo, Dolphin-fish and Kingfish at the Tackle Center monster truck weigh-in, which brought a large gathering of amazed anglers and visitors alike. Scott Wenzel caught the heaviest Tuna on the 4Reel weighing 17 pounds, Dennis Calhoun caught the heaviest Wahoo on the Burning Daylight weighing 36 pounds, Jake Ramsey caught the heaviest Dolphin-fish weighing 6 pounds on the Hey Jude, and Junior angler, Saydie Hendrix caught the heaviest Kingfish weighing 19 lbs on the Fearless.
The prizes and auction items were awarded as the 2023 Fish For Holly Sailfish Tournament concluded under a clear night sky at the PostCard Inn Raw Bar Deck. Fish For Holly would like to thank our record number of tournament sponsors: including our Title Sponsor Papa’s Pilar, and Top Sponsors Contender Boats, GTB Boat Sales, Buckley Windows, Creative Threads Embroidery, and My Sea Cin/Orton Family. Thank you to all of the Silent Auction donors and their amazing art and products!
Tournament Director Annie Hagen and Holly Given Fund Directors Lucy & Jack Given would like to thank all of the volunteers that put on this event, including the Committee Boat Karly Venezia, Sharon Wampler, & Timmy Arce, Sponsorship & Silent Auction coordinators Leslie Leopold & Jen Brito, along with technical assistance from Steve Leopold.
Thank you all for a wonderful tournament in memory of Holly Given. The proceeds of this tournament will be dispersed throughout the year and will provide scholarships and training to Florida Keys community members who need assistance with education, business, and professional training. Your generosity will honor Holly’s memory and help people in the community she loved.
Mark your calendars for the next Fish For Holly Sailfish Tournament, Jan. 6th 2024!