Miami Beach’s legendary nightlife attracts an influx of visitors from destinations around the world. A late night town with an eclectic mix of colorful bars, fine restaurants and action packed nightclubs to satisfy your inner night owl, there’s yet another calling just off the coast and it’s not for the faint of heart.
For many years, anglers in South Florida have been enjoying consistent nighttime swordfishing in the Florida Straits. And while daytime tactics have taken over as the method of choice in an effort not to lose sleep and upset your significant other, there’s a unique set of anglers who don’t get the party started until the sun goes down and wouldn’t have it any other way. While drifting busy shipping lanes in crisp seas under the cover of darkness isn’t for everyone, that’s the way some purists like it and that’s the way it will always be.
Attracting elite crews from South Florida’s tight knit swordfish community, the Miami Swordfish Tournament continues its path of late night fun in the glowing orb of South Beach. While competitors vie for prize money, anglers are also competing for their home turf as the winning team will have the tournament trophy on display in their area’s selected tackle shop. Last year the tournament was won by Stake Out from Lighthouse Point and the trophy was displayed at RJ Boyle Studio. Word on the street is that the Miami crews wanted the trophy back at Hopkins Carter and were prepared to do anything to make it happen.
In its 11th year, the Miami Swordfish Tournament proved that these gladiators of the deep are finicky game fish and require anglers to be on top of their game with the finest tackle and angling expertise. Grueling battles last for hours under the cover of darkness, but it’s these punishing exploits that keep determined sword slayers coming back for more.
Located in the heart of South Beach and providing easy access to some of the greatest broadbill grounds in the world, Miami Beach Marina is always a great host. The festivities began Thursday with an indulgent captain’s party at the always popular, Monty’s Raw Bar. The two-night competition targets swordfish in a release format, with points also accrued for weight of harvested fish over 60 inches. Tournament regulations call for lines in at 7:00 p.m. and anglers are permitted to fish until 2:00 a.m. unless a hook up is called in, in which case anglers must return to the scales no later than 8:00 a.m. With a dreary weather forecast calling for breezy winds approaching 20 knots and leftover swell from a nearby tropical disturbance, the Gulf Stream was going to be inhospitable and the reduced number of entries was expected. Still, with 14 top-notch teams it was a guarantee that no one was going to give up the win without a fight.
Nighttime swordfishing is like nothing else, and the Miami Swordfish Tournament is a test of seamanship and abilities to deal with what Mother Nature is capable of dishing out. Friday night was miserable, with 4 to 6 foot seas and brisk easterly winds. After a long first night pitching and rolling in the darkness, it was Rockstar and Priceless on the leader board all alone with one release each. Across the fleet they knew it was a much different year than last, where team Stake Out weighed a 439-pound monster the first night and a 237-pound beast the second night to solidify the 2012 win.
This year was a much different story, but going into the second evening it was still anyone’s game. Crews were thankful to be greeted with much lighter winds and calming seas, knowing it would be a much more enjoyable night in the ‘Stream. However, anglers know all too well these fish are difficult to track and it was clear there wasn’t much life around. With that being said, Miami’s swordfishery never disappoints and even with a lackluster bite, Rockstar and Reel Deal managed to each release a fish, putting Captain Nelson Fonseca and his crew aboard their Mercury powered SeaVee atop the leader board with 200 points.
At Sunday’s awards banquet at Texas De Brazil it was Rockstar who took home $7,100, although everyone went home happy thanks to the great hospitality, amazing food, prizes, auction items and giveaways. In addition to a fat payday, Rockstar will have their boat designed into the artwork for next year’s tournament T-shirts. With the win, the trophy also moves back to Miami. While the fishing happened to be slow this year, that’s the way it goes and you can guarantee next year many of the same crews will be back for more. Will the trophy remain in Miami, or will it be taken back to Broward County? Maybe an out-of-town team will swoop in and take away the win from the locals. Visit miamiswordfishtournament.com for complete results and information on how you can participate in future events.