Capt. Al Flutie OVER THE HILL RIP-OFF Sailfish Tournament
January 23 & 24, 2012
Favorable weather conditions with winds from the southeast at 12-15 mph and seas of 2-4' made for another solid turnout in the 23rd edition of the Capt. Al Flutie OVER THE HILL RIP-OFF Sailfish Tournament held annually at Gary Dunn's Oceanview Inn and Sports Pub in Islamorada. Nothing seems to diminish the energy and spirit of the 'Old Farts' in the only known sailfish tournament in the world dedicated to anglers fifty years of age or older and this year, 65 anglers on 24 boats took the challenge vowing to 'Help Catch the Cure for Cystic Fibrosis.'
While calm seas and a light breeze are always welcome by anglers, winds from the southeast in the Florida Keys are seldom conducive to power-house sailfish action and this day was no exception. Every boat had at least a shot at a sailfish but not every angler with Committee-Boat-Person Jayanna Cohan scoring a total of 31 releases on 48 hookups for the day.
Like most sailfish competitions, the OVER THE HILL is a boat tournament, with anglers on the boat catching and releasing the most sailfish declared the champions. And like most tournaments, there is always special recognition for the one, single angler catching and releasing the most sailfish in the course of the event. By day's end, Frank Criscola, fishing on this own boat the 'CRISDEL' with fishing partner Joe Prestifilippo would lay claim to both the Grand Champion and High Point Angler titles and trophies.
Criscola and Prestifilippo compete internationally in billfish tournaments with an experienced crew of captains including Paul Dalik at the helm, and George Stellar and John Magursky throwing the cast nets and tying the knots. So it wasn't too surprising to see them leading the pack by early afternoon with five sailfish releases to their credit. But round 2:30 in the afternoon the well dried up for the crew on the 'CRISDEL' and they failed to raise another fish. Not so, for anglers on the 'DROPBACK' who generated some tense moments just minutes before lines out when they called in a triple-header of sailfish that would give them the lead and most likely a win if they scored all three fish. However, the sailfish would win this battle with two of them managing to throw the hooks and only one of them coming to leader for a successful release.
Here's how Jayanna scored it: Frank Criscola and Joe Prestifilippo the Grand Champions with five sailfish releases and Criscola also the High Point Angler having caught and released all five of those fish. (It pays to be on the right side of the boat at the right time.) Anglers P.J. and Bobby Milazzo took Second Place on board the 'PLAYBABY' with four releases guided by Captains Benny Spaulding and Sam Milazzo and Mate Jody Spaulding. Four releases on board the 'DROPBACK' held up to give anglers John Fuechsel, Brian Reynolds and Gary Salyers a Third Place finish guided by Capt. Jon Reynolds.
Tournament Directors Corinne Triviski and Gordon Ross acknowledged the event has now raised more than $400,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Research and Monroe Association of ReMARCable Citizens. Corinne said to MARC your fishing calendars for next year's event, Monday and Tuesday, January 21-22, 2013 and check it out on line at www.marchouse.org.