Miami anglers Matt McClean and Dan Haassen, fishing on the Reel McCoy, in Islamorada, Florida, captured a pre-Christmas gift by winning grand champion honors at the 12th annual Don Gurgiolo Sailfish Classic.
Florida Sailfish Tourney
Led by Capt. George McElveen, the duo concluded their weekend of action with a total of 17 sailfish releases, enough to blaze ahead of the rest of the fleet.
Capt. William Chapman, on board Capt. Cadillac, led teammates Mike and Julie Havener of Naples, Florida, to second place with three sails.
Hillbilly Deluxe, also with three sails, placed third based on the time of release. Capt. Shay Danzig was at the helm guiding anglers Hank Pinder and Devon Frins from Tavernier, Florida, and Kent Krebeck from Key Largo, Florida.
This tournament is named after Don Gurgiolo, one of the pioneers of offshore light tackle fishing and live ballyhoo fishing techniques. He fished for 50 years while operating the Gonfishin charter boats until retirement in 1996. The well-liked skipper died in 1999, but his legacy continues. The 2011 event attracted a field of 32 anglers who fished on a dozen boats during the two-day angling event.