Aphorisms like “fortune favors the brave” and “he who ventures not is lost” could not have been truer at the conclusion of this year’s Sunset Tavern Spiny Lobster Tournament where the grand prize of $500. went to a 2.10 pound catch.
Event Organizer and Sunset Tavern and Deli Lane Co- Owner “Spiny Mike” Maler said “Conditions were very rough those two days of mini-lobster season with winds at 15 knots. This caused about five to six foot seas and visibility of about two feet. We got our limits in no time but the lobsters were just legal or too small and we didn’t get a chance to go into deeper waters due to the weather.”
Maler continued, “It just goes to show you that anyone could have won this year and I’ll tell you I know of a few people who were a bit intimidated about last year’s prize winning lobster of 8.6 pounds. You never know what the outcome of any endeavor will be if you don’t at least try.”
The tournament entries were compatible with last year’s numbers and the increased goal of $1000. to each benefiting charity; the Stiltsville Optimists Club and DiveWise Free Diving Education Initiative were realized so everyone was happy despite Mother Nature’s lack of cooperation.
Maler speculates that the reason catches were so large last year is because there was a major freeze and when that happens spiny lobsters migrate (in single file!) south for a respite from the chill.
At the tournament’s preceding Captain’s Meeting at Sunset Tavern, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission representative Jorge Pino reminded participants to respect Divers Down flags and always go idle within 300 feet of any flags, do physical inspections of equipment prior to heading out in a vessel, and maintain catch limits.
“The big talk of this year was how conditions can change at any moment and a few boats did flip over off Bear Cut. You have to dive within your limits. On a calm day a 17 foot boat is ok but not so otherwise, you are putting yourself and others at risk. We are fortunate we had Mr. Pino here to remind our divers how to be safe and stay within the legal limits,” said event host Spiny Mike Maler.
The “2011 Spiny Lobster King” was none other than Spiny Mike’s brother Bob Maler and no nothing smells fishy about that, they have been competing for big catches most of their lives and are seasoned anglers. Second prize went to Wayne Grammes and there was a third place tie between Daniel Grammes and Robert Richardson.
Robert Richardson is also the son of DiveWise Executive Director Julie Richardson. Julie started the not for profit organization DiveWise; a freediving education and safety initiative, after both of her sons had a close call while freediving together.
On the raffle off, the Seadoo Scooter or underwater propulsion system went to Dudley Smart and the trip to Stiltsville was won by David Adkins.
In the works for next year’s event is a pre-tournament lobster fest, team entry possibilities as well as a division for junior anglers and women.
Spiny Mike reminds those who regretted not throwing their net into the water to compete this year: “Never believe the lobsters are too big for your game. Any lobster can win, and anybody can win but you need to be brave enough to show up first.”