The biggest fish caught in Saturday's Mercury/SeaVee Pompano Beach Saltwater Showdown didn't even count.
Brandon Lauritano and his crew on Wet Hooker brought a wahoo that weighed 75 pounds to the scales at the Alsdorf Boat Ramp Park in Pompano Beach. Unfortunately, the monster 'hoo was missing a sizeable chunk from its midsection, the result of a bite from a bull shark.
Virtually all tournaments require that fish be landed in whole condition, the thinking being that reeling in a wounded fish is easier than reeling in a healthy fish. Even if a fish is bitten close to the boat, which is what happened in this case, the catch is disqualified.
The big wahoo ate a live goggle-eye on a kite line in 170 feet off Boca Raton at 3 p.m. Forty minutes later, as the fight was winding down, a small bull shark appeared. There was nothing the guys on Wet Hooker could do as the shark came up and bit the wahoo.Instead of winning more than $20,000, Wet Hooker wound up with nothing.
"It's heartbreaking," Lauritano said.
Had the wahoo been intact, it would have won the value-added Bluewater Challenge as the biggest fish of the Showdown, which paid $9,000, as well as the value-added Big Three, which paid $5,175.
Assuming the missing chunk weighed 5 pounds, the wahoo would have been 80 pounds, which, along with two kingfish weighing 35.97 pounds, would have placed Wet Hooker second by about 10 pounds behind tournament winner Tropically Impaired/Tito's Handmade Vodka, which had a total weight of 125.34. That finish, plus $750 for the biggest wahoo and $500 for the top male angler – Ryan Peterson of Tropically Impaired won with 71.96 pounds -- would have been worth $8,753, giving Wet Hooker a total payday of nearly $23,000.
As it turned out, the biggest fish of the tournament was Jonathan Neal's 43.9 kingfish on Reel Tension. The biggest wahoo was Dan Hebert's 40.06 on Tax Relief. Trish Flynn of Contour Marine had the big dolphin at 21.9. Jason Coopersmith of O-Sea-D/Vitamin Sea had the big tuna at 28.64. Jamie Ralph of ProPayroll had the heaviest cobia at 17.81.
ProPayroll finished second at 111.39, followed by Flight Plan at 107.76, O-Sea-D/Vitamin Sea (105.14), Catchatori (87.31), Shaka (85.6), Worth the Wait (82.64), Young Guns (81.29), Tracie Raye (80.09) and Kona Blue (79.88). Worth the Wait was the top small boat and won the Average Joe Division and the Average Joe Bonanza.
Carlia Bianculli of Jaguar Fishing Team was the top female angler at 41.24 and Mason Selvanik of Rush Rolloff was the top junior at 48.01.
Zane Colson of Counterpoint was the Junior Master Angler for having the highest total weight for the three-tournament Pompano Beach Saltwater Circuit and his name will be engraved on a perpetual trophy on display at the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania Beach.
Flight Plan won the Showdown Crown as the top overall boat for the circuit with two seconds in addition to Saturday's third-place finish. The 66-foot Spencer skippered by Capt. Casey Hunt became the first sportfisherman in the 12-year history of the Showdown Crown to win the prestigious award.
The final big winner was Albert Kretschmer, of Jupiter, who won the drawing at Sunday's awards ceremony for a new 29-foot SeaVee boat.
Bass results: Ray Smith caught a 6.6-pound largemouth bass Sunday to win the Everglades Bassmasters of South Florida One Largemouth Bass tournament out of the Miami Canal rest area boat ramp on Alligator Alley. Mike Barnard was second at 5.52.