Every July the coastal areas of Florida are flooded with lobster hunters trying to get their share of this year’s bounty during lobster mini season. Some of those divers will also be vying for the title of Lobster King of the 2012 Miami Spiny Lobster Tournament, sponsored by Sunset Tavern and Deli Lane in South Miami. Seasoned angler and restaurant owner Mike “Spiny Mike” Maler will host the third annual event during this year’s lobster mini season, July 25 and 26, to bene- fit the Stiltsville Optimists Club and DiveWise.
“I’ve been diving for lobster with my family my whole life, and now that tradition has become an amazing event that I can share with the entire community,” said Maler. “It brings people together who share the love of fishing and diving and want to support two great causes, all while having a fantastic time.”
The diver who brings in the heaviest lobster will be crowned Lobster King and will receive the grand prize of $500 cash, plus a trophy and bragging rights for a year. Second prize is $300 cash and a trophy and third prize is $200 and a trophy. Kids are also encouraged to participate in the family event. The first place prize in the Kids’ Division is a $50 gift certificate and a trophy. Trophies will also be awarded for second and third place.
“Last year, the heaviest lobster was 2.1 pounds, so anyone can win,” said Maler. “But you can’t win if you don’t enter!”
In an effort to bring awareness to a preva- lent problem in our waters, Maler has added a new event – the 2012 Lionfish Roundup. First place and a $150 prize will be awarded to the diver who brings in the most lionfish. The second place diver will receive a $100 prize, and the diver who brings in the small- est lionfish will win $50.
The lionfish has no known natural predators, an appetite for native fish and crustaceans and the ability to spawn year-round.
“The lionfish are an invasive species that are increasing in population and destroying the coral reefs,” said Maler. “If left alone, they will not only have a devastating effect on the ecosystem, but will have a negative impact on our economy, as well.”
Lionfish are hard to handle and venomous, therefore participants in the Lionfish Roundup must attend the captains’ meeting, Friday, July 20, 5 p.m., at Sunset Tavern. At the meeting, DiveWise founder and executive director Julie Richardson will provide important safety instruc- tions to keep all divers and participants safe.
DiveWise and Stiltsville Optimists Club are once again Maler’s chosen charities. Stiltsville Optimists brings youth groups like the Boys Scouts and Young Marines to the Miami Springs Power Boat Club stilt house in Biscayne Bay to teach kids the importance of marine environmental conservation.
The winners of the 2012 Miami Spiny Lobster Tournament and Lionfish Roundup will be crowned and prizes and trophies awarded at the weigh-in party, Friday, July 27, 5 p.m., at Sunset Tavern. The festive event will include happy hour pricing, $1 menu, a steel drum band, hermit crab races, raffle drawing, 50/50 drawing, T-shirt sales and stories about “the one that got away.” Lobster will definitely be on the menu, so stop by and try cracked lobster and lobster fritters, quesadilla, bisque and pizza.
Deli Lane Café and Sunset Tavern are located at 7230 and 7232 SW 59 Avenue in South Miami. For more information about the tournament, call 305-665-0606 or visit www.delilane.com.