Florida is the state that never stops shining and unless you enjoy snowboarding and snowmobiling, it’s the ultimate winter destination. Offering a wonderful climate with fresh air and sunny skies, it’s easy so see why so many visitors choose to escape the wrath of extreme winter weather in South Florida’s subtropical climate. While transient snowbirds flock south for the mild temperatures, a tight knit crew of local anglers enjoy the pelagic predators migrating south much more than the Yankee caravans congesting Interstate 95. Sure the weather is great, but South Florida anglers look forward to the winter season for another reason—one of the ocean’s greatest hunters will be frolicking in the warm waters off the fertile Gulf Stream.
Since tourist and sailfish seasons coincide, you know the bite is on when the traffic on Federal Highway is congested during all hours of the day and your local watering hole has standing room only. While there is literally a sailfish tournament held on every weekend of the winter season, The 14th Annual Cove Sailfish Tournament wasn’t just another typical gathering of die-hard anglers looking to raise some release flags. This gathering of the greatest sailfishing crews was for the benefit of Michael Brewer.
In typical sailfish tournament fashion, 1st and 2nd place were decided in the final minutes, with the top two teams releasing their 10th fish within seconds of each other!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve surely heard about the Deerfield Beach teenager that was severely burned after being set on fire by five of his middle school classmates. On October 12, 2009, Michael Brewer was doused with rubbing alcohol and set ablaze, resulting in severe burns to nearly two thirds of his body. A heinous and unthinkable crime, three of the neighborhood bullies accused in the attack have been charged as adults. In typical South Florida fashion, the local community banded together with numerous fundraisers for the unfortunate teen and his severely distraught, financially overwhelmed family. They received cards and letters of support from around the world, including a hospital visit from retired NBA star Alonso Mourning, and CDs sent personally from rock star Ozzy Osbourne. Although doctors say Michael’s progress is excellent and he was released from the hospital to spend the holidays with his family, he has a long road to recovery with years of medical treatment and therapy in his future.
Touched by the heartbreaking story of the unfortunate teen, it wasn’t long before South Florida anglers joined in on the fund raising. While this tragic story has deeply affected philanthropists around the world, it hit especially close to home for the South Florida community and as a result, 100% of the proceeds from the tournament went directly to the Brewer family.
This extra special event featured a two-day, two-inlet format, with the option of checking out of Boca Inlet or Hillsboro Inlet. With sailfish season in full swing, teams competing in this event were gearing up for a hot bite, but with gusty southwest winds, rough seas, and lack of noticeable current, the conditions were less than ideal. Twenty-one teams endured the less than bountiful bite, competing for a $10,000 first place purse with the top amateur team taking home $2,500. There were also several optional entry categories including an exclusive big boat division, a center console division and a fun fish division for the heaviest kingfish, dolphin or wahoo in the tournament.
In typical sailfish tournament fashion, 1st and 2nd place were decided in the final minutes, with the top two teams releasing their 10th fish within seconds of each other! When everything settled it was Just Cashin N narrowly edging out Rhonda Beth, with both teams releasing 10 fish. The 3rd place spot was reserved by the Country Cookin team from 99.9 Kiss Country, who also contributed significant media resources to the event. Poseidon Too finished in 4th with 1,400 points and 7 releases followed by Off the Wall in 5th with 1,200 points and 6 releases. Angler Joey Jordan of Country Cookin was the master angler in the tournament with 7 releases. Janet Friend of Just Cashin N was the top female angler with 6 releases. The top junior angler honor was awarded to Timmy Maddock, Jr. aboard Vitamin Sea Too. He batted a thousand releasing 4 sailfish over the course of the two-day tournament.
“The outpouring of support and donations for this young man was heart warming,” said Jamie Bunn, director for the Cove Sailfish Tournament. “We needed the fishing community of South Florida to step up for Michael and that is exactly what they did.”
Several of the teams donated significant portions of their tournament winnings right back to the collection for Michael during the awards ceremony held at the Cove Restaurant in Deerfield Beach. Team contributions exceeded $10,000. Many of the local businesses also got involved donating money, vacations and other items that could be used in the auction for the tournament. Through the generosity of the anglers, sponsors and the Cove Restaurant & Marina, an estimated $25,000 was raised for Michael Brewer.
Michael Brewer needs all the help he can get, as his medical bills are insurmountable and are overwhelming for his family. Many members of the community have already come together and offered their support. Neighbors 4 Neighbors will be accepting donations through the Family Fund for Michael Brewer. Please donate by visiting www.neighbors4neighbors.org. While these tough economic times create challenging situations, please extend a helping hand to a neighbor in need. Every little bit helps.