2024 Fish For Holly Sailfish Tournament
Now that the holidays are behind us, it is time to focus on Sailfish! We started 2024 with one of the first Sailfish Tournaments of the new year, The Fish for Holly Sailfish Tournament out of Islamorada.
Main Attraction owners Captain Marty Lewis and his Wife, Katie Lewis, fish this tournament yearly. It is a wonderful tournament that raises money for an important cause: raising awareness about domestic violence. Usually, Marty and Katie fish the tournament every year with a repeat client named Dominick and his friend Jeremy. Since Dominick could not make it this year, they brought two other close clients, Mark Busch and Steve Anderson.
The goal is to win, but most importantly, to have fun and help raise money for a great cause.
Leading up to the big day, Katie prepped the boat with all the provisions, including drinks, breakfast burritos, sandwiches, and can’t forget the candy. She knows Captain Marty eats candy in the tower because when she does his laundry, she finds candy wrappers in his pockets!
Captain Marty ensured fresh tournament-quality baits were loaded into his live wells the night before. Mark ran up to Islamorada the night before to pay to participate in optional categories and pick up the tournament swag. Knowing it was going to be a bumpy ride the next day, everyone was sure to eat a quick and easy dinner and headed to bed early.
The following day, Marty and Katie’s alarms went off at 4:15 am. Early in the week, the seas were calm and the skies blue, just like the previous year, but once it was time to fish, Mother Nature changed her mind! The wind had picked up, and it would be a sporty day.
They planned to depart the Marina at 5:30 am to start the trip to Islamorada. It was dark out still, and once they came out of the Coco Plum Channel, the water was very rough. The amount of ocean spray coming off the boat made it clear that everyone would be fishing in slickers and Boots that day. Getting to Islamorada from Marathon took about an hour since they had to take their time in the choppier seas.
Katie Lewis and Captain Marty Lewis looking for Sailfish.
Once Captain Marty got to an area he liked, they stopped to see the sunrise, set up the electric kite reels, and get the Kites flying in the wind. It’s always a good idea to prep all of this before lines in because it means more fishing time for the tournament.
As lines in approached, the team got both kites up and into position. As soon as the Committee boat announced lines in, it was on. This year’s Fish for Holly tournament had 70 registered boats, so almost immediately there were boats radioing in hookups and releases. While working the kites and hearing other boats hooking up Captain Marty decided they needed to move to a better location. They quickly reeled in the kites and headed further East.
Once Marty found an area that looked good, they quickly deployed their kite, lines, and baits. Shortly after, a Sailfish came up to eat a bait, but it got tangled in the line and came off. Within minutes, another line went off, and Mark grabbed the rod. He locked his legs into the gunnel to keep his balance and wind as quickly as possible. Mark reeled until the fish was close, and Ben Zdan reached out to grab the leader. Captain Marty radioed in “Right now, Release for Mark on Main One”. Everyone cheered; they were officially on the leaderboard! Best of all, they knew the fish were there, which meant they would likely catch more.
It was like turning on a light switch after that. As the team raced to get the kite lines back into the water, they got bit by several types of Mackerel. Aaron pitched a bait out as they worked to get those fish off the lines, and a sailfish came up from the depths and devoured it! Katie quickly grabbed the rod and began to fight the fish. Unfortunately, we don’t have any video footage of this fight because it was very quick, and everyone was trying to get the leader. However, the fish ran pretty far from the boat initially.
As Katie reeled as fast as she could to regain the line, Captain Marty started to back down hard to ensure they quickly recovered the line. Katie joked that she needed a mask and snorkel as the waves crashed into the cockpit. As Captain Marty backed down, the fish jumped multiple times, not far from the transom. Reggie Hiro, Captain Ariel’s mate on the Big Game Sportfishing, joined them for the day and stretched out to grab hold of the leader for an official catch. Captain Marty radioed again, “Katie on Main One”. Two fish were on the leaderboard, and they were all ecstatic.
They got the baits back out as quickly as possible, hooked another Sailfish, and it was only 9:20 am! This time, Mark was working some of the kite rods, and he saw the fish come up; Captain Marty hollered for him to wind when he saw the fish eat the bait. Mark pointed the rod to the fish and started to reel like crazy until he became tight. Amid the hookup, the line wouldn’t come out of the kite clip, so he had to pop it out.
This fight was an intense five minutes as the Sailfish performed many acrobatic jumps. Towards the end, when the leader got close, Captain Marty backed down, and the cockpit was swamped. Katie held onto the tower leg with one hand while videoing with the other.
As the waves crashed into the transom, Reggie stretched out as far as he could, but the fish was still too far out. It felt like an eternity waiting for the release, but they got it. Katie let out a sigh of relief as Captain Marty pulled forward to let the water out through the open tuna door.
This tournament is special to the locals because a local Keys girl named Holly Givens tragically lost her life as a victim of domestic abuse. This tournament uniquely celebrates her life; she was a true Keys girl who loved to be on the water.
Not only do people want to catch fish, but they love to come together and do ‘Dunkaroos’. If you don’t know what that is, you fill a five-gallon bucket of ice-cold water, someone holds you by your ankles and you dunk your head in the bucket; once you come up for air, you drink. Dunkaroos is a drinking game that has always been associated with this tournament. So, late in the afternoon when it got slow, the boys entertained themselves by having a few Dunkaroos.
While the Main Attraction team didn’t place in the top three out of 70 boats, they finished 18th, which isn’t too shabby! While they did not come home with a trophy, they had a lot of fun and helped raise money for a great cause.
If you want to learn more about the Fish For Holly Tournament, visit their website at https://www.fishforholly.com. If you are interested in fishing a tournament with the Main Attraction team, call us at 305-289-0071 or visit our contact page.