For the fifth consecutive year, the Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys/University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame (UMSHoF) Celebrity Dolphin Tournament, hosted by Randal Hill and Andre Johnson, proved to be one of the largest fishing events in the Florida Keys.
With nearly 600 people attending the events, along with 55 former Hurricanes greats, including 25 UMSHoF members, the event has blossomed into a must see on the fishing events calendar. The event raises funds for Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys, Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, Coastal Conservation Association and UMSHoF.
The Friday night Captains Meeting was a mix of former Canes getting reacquainted, meeting new friends from the Florida Keys and the anticipation of the next day’s excursion to the open seas. A paella dinner was provided by Segovia Catering and live music by the popular Coconut Grove band “Live Bait” led to a festive evening.
Former Miami coach and Islamorada resident Jimmy Johnson, along with all the celebrities spent the evening talking to fans, signing autographs, taking photos and checking out the Vendor Village in the laid back Florida Keys weather. Fishing began at 8 a.m. on Saturday and 75 boats went out in search of the biggest dolphin. The “Weigh In” began at 3:30 p.m. with food provided by former Canes quarterback Craig Erickson and the good folks at Hole in the Wall Pub. A dejay played island music to accompany the weighing of the many dolphins caught by the anglers. A total of 70 dolphins were weighed. A total of 362 anglers participated in the event.
After all the fish were weighed, the awards dinner began with a Caribbean Pork Roast provided by Mangrove Mike’s Café of Islamorada and the awarding of trophies and cash prizes to the winners. The first prize with the largest dolphin belonged to Ely Hernandez of the boat Kaya, with a catch of 39 pounds. He collected $3,000 and a trophy designed by Reel Tuff Graphix. Second place prize of $2,000 went to Dave Resch Sr. from “Team Johnstone” with a catch of 37.3 pounds. Winner of $1,000 for third place was Randy Weinstein on Stage Two.
The top junior angler was JC Bills on the Islamorada Beer Company boat with a dolphin of 23.6 pounds.
Top Female Angler was Jamie Slattery of Can’t Quit with a 23.2-pound catch. The boat Kaya claimed the $3,633 Bucket of Bucks prize with a three-fish dolphin aggregate of 77.9 pounds. The Master of the Ocean, largest combined weight of three fish in the dolphin, wahoo, tuna and kingfish species was won by Hang Loose with an aggregate of 93.9 pounds of fish, winning the highest total prize of $7,905.
Although not officially weighed for the tournament, Jenn Strawley, Miami’s deputy director of athletics and senior woman administrator, on Phoebe II, caught and released what was described as a rather large blue marlin.
Later in the the evening, as anglers said their goodbyes, many in the group headed over to UMSHoF member Gary Dunn’s Ocean View Inn in Islamorada for a nightcap and a few more laughs.