120 boats had registered and over 400 Anglers endured the sizzling heat Saturday, August 23, waiting for the bonito to bite. The 2nd Annual Treasure Coast Bonito Blast (TCBB) to benefit the Wounded Warriors of South Florida (WWofSF) was underway.
When the boats began to line up for weigh in, Jim Weix, weigh master and his crew picked up their pace. “It became somewhat hectic about an hour into the weigh in, but it was temporary and everyone remained calm” says Gary Hirschman, who was helping.
1st place winner Marcy Buford won with her first bonito on board, weighing 18.01 lbs. She thought her catch was at least a “respectable size” and had no idea she had a winner. Marcy, who never fished a tournament before, called the Bonito Blast, “the great equalizer, because anyone can win”.
By amazing coincidence, out of all the anglers competing, last year’s 3rd and 2nd place winners’ switched places in this year’s tournament.
Last year’s 3rd place winner Capt. Jack Summers caught 300 lbs. of bonito this year, and that included the second biggest catch of the day, a 16.5 lb. bonito, giving him 2nd place.
Jason Philips, 2nd place winner last year said, of this year’s tournament, “usually I can’t keep bonito from taking the bait, this year I caught sharks and kings and only one bonito”. Weighing 15.85 lbs., it was enough to take 3rd place.
Fishing with his grandfather Capt. Summers, 8 year old Dillion McCurroy, was similarly challenged “I was catching sharks all day until I finally caught bonito”, Weighing 15.70lbs it won him the Jr Angler division.
After the tournament, almost, 500 supporters of TCBB and WWofSF gathered at Manatee Island Bar and Grill in Port Salerno. Over 150 sponsors came together to provide a barbeque, music, and live auction items including a resort vacation worth $3,500 to Blue Marlin Cove in Grand Bahama. There were hundreds of donated items, lined up in baskets for the Chinese auction. Blue Marlin Motors and Waterfront Properties joined to donate a raffle item, a fishing trip worth $8,000 aboard a Viking Sportfish. Members WWofSF joined the party and helped sell 50/50 tickets.
At the end of the day, all had fun and plan to return to next year’s 3rd Annual TCBB. It was best put by Michelle Stringer, wife of Randy Stringer, a veteran of Desert Storm and this year’s winner of the Calcutta with his 23.6 lb Dolphin, “what we put out, we got back”. All of us who took part in this year’s event can feel good about their effort, with over $30,000 raised for the Wounded Warriors of South Florida.
As for the lowly bonito that were caught, they were bought by a seafood wholesaler and shipped north; they will end as a meal for some one. Not a bad end for a bonito.