Spiny lobster tournament brings record winner

Spiny lobster tournament brings record winner

“Spiny” Mike Maler with the largest lobster and the smallest legal-size lobster.

Deli Lane Café and Sunset Tavern held the annual Spiny Lobster Tournament on July 31. The weigh-in at the South Miami eatery was complete with live music, raffles, a silent auction, crab races, a special lobster and drink menu, photo contest, and trophies and prize money for the heftiest “bugs” in both the adult and junior categories. Another contest was held for the heaviest “Slam” catch combination of lobster, lionfish and hogfish.

“It rained real hard that night, yet people braved the weather to come to the event,” said Mike Maler, co-owner and founder of the event.

The popular occasion continues to entice divers to enter the tournament and bring their catch to Sunset Tavern where it is measured and weighed. From the 28 adult and junior divers, this year’s winners were: Jim Maler (8.12 pounds), Charles Redding (6.73 pounds), Bob Maler (4.40 pounds) and Wayne Grammes (4.28 pounds). The junior diver first place prize went to Hunter Glenn for a 2.71 pound bug, Kylie Jane Adkins second (1.89) and Kayla Hardwick third (1.73). Keith Mitchell won the Slam with a combined weight of 7.98 pounds. The winning crustaceans are placed on display.

Next year, Mike Maler is considering a catch and release element to the lobster contest. “I’d like to get a tank and have the biggest “Larry the Lobster” or “Old Crusty” in it for about a week and then have another event to celebrate Larry or Crusty’s return to the sea.”

Diving for panulirus argus, Florida’s bug-like crustacean, is something Mike Maler and his brothers started doing as young boys. “My father used to take us to the Keys to get lobsters. Then about 12 years ago, my brothers and I started lobstering together again, mostly for fun. Then I got the idea to celebrate the mini season at the restaurant,” said Maler.

A portion of the event’s proceeds go to the Stiltsville Optimists Club. The Club, a charity run by the Miami Springs Power Boating Club, provides opportunities for children and civic organizations to visit and enjoy the Stiltsville homes in the bay.

Sponsors of the tourney provided plenty of swag. Among the major sponsors this year was: Budweiser, JDR Financial Group, Buffe Systems, Inc., R.E.I., Sharper Image, Turnkey Construction, Sysco Food Service, Ellen Siegel & Associates, Robin’s Plaza, Coca Cola, and Crook & Crook. Local businesses also offered prizes for the raffle.

Florida allows two separate lobster seasons, one that spans eight months from August 6 through March 31 and a second two-day mini season that is always held on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July.

Maler’s event is always planned for the Friday immediately after the close of mini season.

To find out more about permits, legal size, bag limits and legal diving areas, go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation at www.myfwc.com.

Deli Lane Café and Sunset Tavern are located at 7230 SW 59 Ave (Dorn Avenue). For more information, call 305- 665-0606, or visit delilane.com.


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