Sunset Tavern Spiny Lobster Tourney July 27 – 28

By Raquel Garcia….

Tournament Host Mike Maler with a big catch

Seasoned angler and south Florida veteran restaurateur of Sunset Tavern and Deli Lane Mike “Spiny Mike” Maler is hosting the Second Annual Spiny Lobster Mini Season Tournament July 27 & 28 to benefit the Stiltsville Optimists Club and DiveWise not for profit organizations. Mother Mother Ocean is calling all interested fishermen to come out for this year’s highly anticipated event.

“I sort of see it as an excuse to be out on the water. I’m not working and so cannot be at the business because oh shucks I gotta run the event so I’m out there having fun. In the middle of summer it is a great excuse for family and friends to get together and enjoy the best of south Florida…ocean and sunshine and maybe catch a tasty lobster dinner entrée. I have been lobstering my whole life, my dad would take us out to the keys to find them, it was a family thing when my brothers and I would get together. Today that tradition has become a whole amazing new experience,” explained Mike enthusiastically.

Lobster lovers of Miami know there are two precious days in the calendar year, the last Wednesday and Thursday of July when lobster fishermen are given the green light to catch as many of these delectable creatures as they can during mini lobster season within certain guidelines. There are lots of ways to capture the elusive prized target like bully netting off the flats on Elliott Key at night where flashlights are shined down into the water and caught off the boat, snorkeling for the prized catch, scuba diving or jumping in after them right off the pier.

At the inaugural tournament last summer, nineteen divers participated and two junior anglers. The winning lobster was 8.6 pounds and caught in about eighty feet of water. Second and third place lobsters were caught in about 35 feet of water. Last year there were about 20 five to seven pound catches and according to Mike they can get as big as about 13 pounds.

The tournament officially launches with a Captains Meeting at Sunset Tavern on July 22, the Friday before the event. Educational groups like the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Miami-Dade Reef Guard and others are invited to address the group to offer boating safety tips and legal guidelines for catches. “Basically you go out and fish, abiding by the laws of course and bring me back your largest catch the following Friday for the after party. Unlike many fishing tournaments we do not keep any of the catches, but last year many folks shared their catches with their fellow competitors, we cooked them up here and it was a grand lobster fest for all,” described Mike. Some tournament participants decided to donate their catches and they were raffled off with all proceeds going to the benefiting charity.

Stiltsville Optimists Club and DiveWise are the hosted charities this year. Stiltsville Optimists brings youth groups like the Girl 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. DiveWise Free Diving Educational Initiative is a group that educates the public on the phenomenon of freedive or shallow water black out. A little understood condition that can affect spearfishers or skindivers who take multiple consecutive dives into the ocean and come back up quickly potentially causing a lack of oxygen to the brain whereby divers pass out before reaching the surface. It is a possibly fatal condition and one of the reasons divers should never dive alone.

This year’s King or Queen of Spiny Lobster Season Winner will earn a grand prize of $500 in cash plus a trophy and coverage in the South Miami News, second prize is $300 in cash and trophy and third prize is $200 and trophy. All ages are welcome to sign up. Registration fee is $85 and the application form and lobster divers checklist are available online at The fee includes the after party weigh in event at Sunset Tavern. Mike and his team are also offering raffle tickets this year to benefit the charities. First prize raffle winner would receive a SeaScooter Seadoo which is an underwater propulsion system valued at $500. Second prize is a trip for the winner and nine friends to have lunch at Stiltsville where Sunset Tavern will provide the food and transportation, and third prize is a one hour happy hour for ten at Sunset Tavern with food provided and beer courtesy of Corona. Raffle tickets are $5.00 each or five for $20. and available at Sunset Tavern.

A trip to Sunset Tavern is like an escape to Margaritaville. This 22 year old establishment founded by Mike Maler and Jahn Kirchoff serves a wide range of menu options from consummately prepared seafood entrees, to pressed duck to original vegetarian delights all in a fun loving friendly casual spacious atmosphere with cozy booths inside and ample umbrella covered tables outside located at 7232 SW 59 Avenue. Call Mike or John at 305-665- 0606 or visit for more information.

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