Posts Tagged ‘tarpon tournament’

The weather pattern known as La Niña has cycled out for now.  How does that effect the Florida Sea Base?  Well, it could bring good news of a lessened chance for hurricanes this summer/fall.  Dr. Jeff Masters from Weather Underground predicted a kinder hurricane season for the Atlantic a few months back.  But hurricanes are only one weather issue that we must deal with and a windy or rainy summer is of concern.  As always, we will keep you posted.  But when outdoors, the weather is the weather and we will make the best of whatever comes our way. 🙂

The final round of fishing concluded at noon Friday with nine more tarpon caught and released.  The total count for this year was 29 tarpon.  This was by far the fewest tarpon caught since my involvement with the vent.  123 tarpon were caught and released in 2011.  Former FSB Advisory Committee Chair Spike Yoh was this year’s champion with a total of four releases.

Following lunch, the Florida Sea Base Advisory Committee met.  The major items discussed included purchasing property to build a new sailing base in the middle Keys, approval to replace the aging BSA Tarpon (a 45′ Corinthian) with a new Newton 46′ Dive Special in 2013, the possible addition of a parasailing activity to one or more of our programs, and a new committee seat was added for a representative of the Sea Base Alumni and Friends Association.

I AM POOPED!!!  I may post again Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.  Enjoy your weekend.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape 

04May

CATCHING

in Staff  •  0 comments

The rain held off again on Thursday but the wind was still stout for day 3 of the 28th Annual Florida National High Adventure Sea Base Invitational Tarpon Tournament.  The anglers did much better today releasing three tarpon in the morning and 14 tarpon during the evening round. A captain auction was held after the evening fishing session and a few libations, grossing $71,000 followed by a luau feast.  The staff (including yours truly) finished clean-up a little after midnight.  We have a morning staff meeting at 0645 and will be running hard until late Friday evening.

Click to enlarge.

Capt. Rae, Trevor, Zac and Levi make final luau preparations.

Click to enlarge.

Capt. Scott, Dr. Ellen, Capt. Dennis and Megan help the guests on and off the “happy boat”.

It’s 00:31 now.  About 15 more minutes and I’ll be in bed.  That leaves about 4 and a half hours to sleep.  Goodnight!!!

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

 

02May

DAY 2

Wednesday was the second day of the 28th Annual Florida Sea Base Annual Invitational Tarpon Tournament.  The wind was still pretty stout but the rain held off.

Click to enlarge.

Unfortunately, it was a very slow day for the anglers; only four tarpon were caught Wednesday.  The first tarpon was caught by Jim Little.  Doug Mitchell, Jon Pederson and Barry Norris also caught a tarpon each.  The fishing guides with catches were Capt. Brett Hagood (1), Capt. Steve Lavoie (2), and Capt. Franky Ortiz (1).  I think we had about 23 catches during the first two rounds last year.

I took 99 photos during the morning round.  During the afternoon round I drove the boat and Michael Roesel took the photos.  I’m not sure how many he took, but I would guess 20 or less.  Hopefully the action will get better Thursday morning.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

The anglers have the night off.  The staff is being treated to delivered pizza.  Thursday will be a very, VERY, long day, starting with a staff meeting at 0630, a morning fishing session, lunch, afternoon preparing for luau, dinner at 2130 (9:30pm) and culminating with luau clean-up and dishwashing until after midnight.

I will try to post tomorrow (Thursday); but no promises.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape 

01May

BETTER?

in Staff  •  0 comments

The weather started out a little better Tuesday morning at the Florida Sea Base.  Monday night we had wind gusts to 34 knots!  By morning the wind was down to 20-25 knots and scattered, light showers in the middle Keys.

Click to enlarge.

The Florida Sea Base staff met at 0930 to discuss daily assignments and last minute preparations.  We usually have the base looking like a botanical garden for this event.  The rain has “dampened” our efforts.  The BEST news is that Captain Dennis Wyatt and I are assigned to the same photo boat for the week. I am looking forwarding to some great stories!  (Don’t forget that you can purchase his book, “The Balderer Man in the Sea” from Amazon.com/kindle.)   And maybe we will get a decent photo or two.  (Neither of us are photographers, so we will need a lot of luck to get the lens cap off and the camera turned on.)  The fishing guides DESPISE the photo boats anyway. So we will keep our distance and do what we can.  Captains Rich Beliveau and Scott Costa are assigned to the other photo boat.

The fishers (we’re not supposed to call them fishermen anymore) and full-time staff of the Florida Sea Base met at the Islamorada Fishing Club for the opening banquet Tuesday night.  It was great to see Joanne Kolb and Melissa Stanfill.  They are married to Rob, Director of Program, and Tim, Food and Conference Director, respectively, but we rarely get to see them around the base.

Here’s what we are expecting Wednesday, courtesy of the National Weather Service:

Wednesday And Wednesday Night…East to southeast winds near 20 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Nearshore waters rough. Scattered showers.

At this point it’s probably best that we consider the weather impact on the Tarpon Tournament on a day-by-day basis.  But overall, it looks like conditions may improve very slightly over the next few days.

We have a staff meeting at 0630 and expect the fishers to start arriving around 0700-0715.  The next three days will be VERY long.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape 

I usually don’t post in the evenings, but I am back aboard S/V Escape and have unpacked the necessities.  Escape is still floating and there were no big surprises on board.  I have a few leaky portholes.  The Florida Sea Base has experienced a lot of rain while I was away.  So it was no surprise to find a few puddles to wipe up.  The most disappointing item is the mizzen mast boot is leaking.  A team of Florida Sea Base riggers replaced my standing rigging last summer.  I think the activity may have allowed the mizzen to sway enough to break the seal.  It is not a real big deal; most of the water goes into the shower.  But I’m sure some of the water is running elsewhere causing unseen damage.  So I will try to tend to that problem as soon as possible.  My second problem is that my mobile router has quit working.  I am too tired to mess with it tonight.  I have driven 1,545 miles in the past two days with 5 hours sleep each night.  MAYBE I can get to bed soon.

RAIN is the word at the Florida Sea Base.  Key Largo (at the top of the Keys) received 6″ of rain Monday while on the other end, Key West received 1/4″.  I do not have an official report from the Florida Sea Base, but there is a lot of standing water on Lower Matecumbe Key, home of FSB.  It is very gray and windy.  The NWS marine forecast reports:

Synopsis…FRESH TO STRONG BREEZES WILL CONTINUE ACROSS ALL KEYS COASTAL WATERS TONIGHT AND INTO TUESDAY. AN AXIS OF HIGH SURFACE PRESSURE WILL EXTEND ACROSS THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES TUESDAY NIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY NIGHT. THIS HIGH PRESSURE WILL SETTLE FURTHER SOUTH AND WEAKEN THURSDAY THROUGH SATURDAY.

More specifically:

Tonight…East to southeast winds 20 to 25 knots. Seas 6 to 9 feet. Winds and seas higher in and near numerous showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Tuesday…East to southeast winds 20 to 25 knots. Seas 6 to 9 feet. Numerous showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Tuesday Night…East to southeast winds 20 knots and gusty. Seas 6 to 8 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Wednesday…East winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 4 to 6 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Wednesday Night…East to southeast winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 4 to 6 feet. Scattered showers.
Thursday…Southeast winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. Isolated showers.
Thursday Night…Southeast to south winds near 10 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Isolated showers.
Friday Through Saturday Night…East to southeast winds near 10 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Isolated showers.

No fishing is scheduled for the Tarpon Tournament Tuesday.  It will be a day of arrivals, check-ins and the opening banquet.  But we are scheduled to fish Wednesday morning and afternoon, Thursday morning and evening, and Friday morning.  Boating and fishing don’t mix well with umbrellas so foul weather gear may be the uniform of the day.

I am pooped.  I will probably post Wednesday morning; maybe sooner.

Capt. Steve Willis
Profesional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape (Alone and lonely.)

Ahh, the benefits of hosting the Florida Sea Base Annual Invitational Tarpon Tournament.  Yesterday, the Scuba Adventure crew worked on their SCENE (conservation) award while the staff spread sod.

Click to enlarge.

Outside contractors were hired to complete projects our in-house maintenance team has not been able to address.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Some of these repairs have been needed for years.  Better late than never.

After lunch, the divers tackled Alligator Reef.  The wind was HONKIN’ and the waves were crashing, but, to my surprise, they pulled off the dive.  No one even got seasick.

I worked with Paula at Corinthian Catamarans to draft a quote for a vessel to replace the BSA Tarpon.  I believe the Florida Sea Base took possession of the BSA Tarpon in 1994.  She has been a workhorse but is long past her prime.

The wind built even more late last night, gusting to 28knots from the east.  This will make for a challenging day for scuba diving and snorkeling with high waves and poor visibility.  The staff will do all they can to find a location with the best possible conditions for the divers and hopefully the sailors can put a reef in the sails and have a good day on the bay-side of the islands.

Yesterday was Capt. Zach Woodmancy’s and Addie Summitt’s last day at the Florida Sea Base.  They worked for several seasons at the Brinton Environmental Center before spending this spring at Sea Base. They have purchased a home in Sarasota, Florida and are moving on to real jobs.  They were excellent staff members and will be sorely missed.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape 

Friday morning was the fifth and final round of the 2011 Florida Sea Base Invitational Tarpon Tournament.  All anglers and all guides had at least one catch over the three day event.  This year’s winning angler is Gene McDonald with a record 13 tarpon caught and released.  Gene was accompanied this year by his daughter, Molly, who caught 5 tarpon and two sons, Matt and Marty, with 7 and 2 tarpon respectively.  The guide with the most fish caught from his boat was Capt. Mark Gilman with 20 tarpon (another record).  The total number of tarpon caught was 125 (another record).  Tommy Williams placed second with 9 tarpon.

During the afternoon meeting of the Florida Sea Base Advisory Committee, the anglers expressed their appreciation for the exceptional performance of our seasonal staff.  I concur.  While exceptional service has become “routine”, the positive attitude and cooperation between this year’s staff was exemplary.

Today is a day off for the seasonal staff.  In fact, for most of them yesterday was the last day of their spring contract and many will be departing today.  My big plans include getting an hour or two of extra sleep, washing clothes, moving my truck and maybe spending a little time in the office this afternoon.  Captains Rich and Carol are headed to St. Petersburg, Florida to visit Capt. Rich’s mom.

Chances are fair that I won’t have anything to post tomorrow.  Today SHOULD be very quiet and uneventful.

I hope you enjoy your weekend.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Lines were in at 08:00 and the third round of the tournament ended at 12:00  with 36 tarpon caught and released.  The weather held but rained was threatening all day.  There was no tournament fishing between noon and 17:00 (5 pm).  The fourth round started at 17:00 and ended at sunset, 19:55 local time.  18 tarpons were caught during the fourth session bringing the tournament total to 103, exceeding the previous record of 101.

Once the fishing was done for the day, the anglers and their guests were treated to beverages and live music at the Florida Sea Base.  An auction was held to determine who would be fishing with which guide in today’s final round.  The evening then focused on food and fellowship.

Since most of the staff was up well past midnight cleaning up after the luau, this morning’s 06:30 meeting was postponed until 06:45.  While there are several comments I would like to make here, none is really appropriate.

So here we go.  The final day, round 5 of fishing, lunch, FSB Advisory Committee Meeting and the awards banquet tonight.  It will all be over in a 18 hours.

Click on READ MORE for some photos.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Yesterday was Day 1 of the 2011 Florida Sea Base Invitational Tarpon Tournament.  There are 28 fishers this year and 16 professional guides (including one female fisher and one female guide).

“Lines In” for the first round was called at 08:15.  Jon Pederson caught the first tarpon within the first minute or two. Ten tarpon were caught by mid-morning and a total of 25 fish were caught during round one which ended at noon.  Round two started at 13:30 and ended at 17:00.  A total of 24 fish were caught during round two which brought the day’s total to 49 tarpon caught and released. Our record number of fish caught over a five session tournament is 101 so we are on schedule to possibly set a new record this year.

Today starts with a staff meeting at 06:30.  The anglers will eat breakfast at 07:15 and “lines in” is at 08:00.  Round three ends at noon.  There will be a break after lunch followed by round four from 17:00 to 19:55 (sunset).  A MASSIVE luau dinner (including a 40+ pound pig) will be served on base at 21:00 and the staff will likely complete clean-up after midnight.  Today is a VERY long day.

Time to go.  Click on READ MORE for some photos.  I will post a few more photos tomorrow.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

“Lines in”!  For tournament fishers (that’s the politically correct term that replaced “fishermen”) those words are the equivalent of “Drivers, start your engines”.  (If you’re old enough, you may remember the phase formerly being “Gentlemen, start your engines”.)  Anyway, the lines go in the water at 08:15 sharp today for round one of the 2011 Florida Sea Base Invitation Tarpon Tournament.  The weather is going to be perfect for sunburn and sea sickness.  Forced hydration and sunscreen are going to be the fishers’ good friends.

Yesterday was a busy day of final preparations.  The hunt for bait has begun in earnest.  The Mullet Cowboys went out yesterday and will be out again at first light this morning searching for the Tarpon’s favorite bait, mullet (they look like small catfish).  They are caught by using cast nets.  The Mullet Cowboys are also trying to catch live crabs and pilchards.  The fishers go through a LOT of bait.

Today starts with an 06:30 staff meeting and should conclude around 19:30 (including time for dinner dishes and breakfast preparations).  “Lines in” will officially begin at 08:15 for the fishers and round one ends at noon.  Round two is from 13:30 to 17:00.  The fishers and guides rotate for each round.  There will be a total of five rounds rounds; two today, one Thursday morning, one Thursday late afternoon/earl evening and the final round will be Friday morning.  Friday afternoon the Florida Sea Base Committee meets.  The awards banquet will be held Friday evening.  The tournament is catch and release and the fisher catching the most fish wins.  There are some bonus points (such as first tarpon caught) and some tie-breakers.  Any fishers who end the tournament with no tarpon (a fairly rare event) will be awarded a free membership in the Tarpon Preservation Society.

I’ll have more details in tomorrow’s post.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape