Main Attraction IFC Captain’s Cup Sailfish Tournament 2024
Sailfish Tournament season is in full swing! In December, we fished the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament , which is leg one of the 2024 Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship series. Then we fished the 2024 Fish For Holly Sailfish Tournament . Now we are back with more fishing tournament updates!
2024 Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish Tournament
On January 17, 2024, Team Main Attraction fished the second leg of the Gold Cup Series, the Islamorada Fishing Club tournament Captain’s Cup Sailfish Tournament.
The team was fired up and ready to get back together. Our competitive tournament team consists of our good friend and star angler Mark Busch, Captain Marty at the helm, and a talented crew comprised of Captain Ben, Captain Ariel, Captain Danny, Reggie, and Marty’s son, Alex.
This particular tournament was on a school day, so, unfortunately, Alex sat this one out. We sent a photographer, Mikey Finiguerra of Mfin Media, to capture some photos and videos.
The team shoved off at 4:30 am aboard the Main One, which was loaded with a variety of baits. Captain Marty initially thought he might stay closer to the Westerly boundary, but as the day broke, he noticed how dirty (cloudy) the water seemed. Captain Marty decided to head east in search of that clean blue water the Sailfish love.
Captain Marty Lewis looking for Sailfish aboard the Main One.
Captain Marty headed east until he reached Davis Reef near the eastern boundary. Marty thought the water looked okay and started to fish there once lines in was announced. Within 20 minutes, they raised and caught a sailfish on the kite. The team was excited; they were on the board and off to a great start.
After an hour, without any other bites, Marty had the team bring the lines in to make a move. As Captain Marty listened to the radio, it sounded like most boats catching were to the east of his position. Captain Marty opened up the 49-footer and headed even further east. Marty was excited to see the water getting bluer and bluer; it looked like the move would pay off.
Captain Marty spotted a school of bait showering and ran to it. They could see three Sailfish from the tall tuna tower; game on! The crew got into position to pitch baits at the fish. Two of the Sailfish turned down the bait, but the third ate. Mark Busch was hooked up! Once the guys got the release, Captain Marty called it in and, not long after, was heading towards another bait shower he spotted.
Angler Mark Busch fighting a Sailfish during the tournament.
They found one Sailfish and pitched bait at the fish until it was clear it wouldn’t eat. This can happen a lot, especially during a tournament. Fish that have already been hooked typically aren’t going to eat bait again for a while. So, onto the next one. Once the sun hid behind the clouds again, it was time to put the kites back out. They raised two fish near the end of the day, but unfortunately, just as one of the Sailfish was about to eat, a bird swooped down and stole the bait! They were able to hook the other and release their 3rd fish of the day.
Main Attraction finished the tournament in 2nd place overall. Mark Busch finished 2nd place in the top angler category out of 68 anglers. When lines out was announced on the VHF radio, they started their two-hour journey back to the marina. Each crew member showered aboard the Main One during the ride home and changed into clean clothes. When they returned to the Marathon Sailfish Marina in Marathon, they jumped in the car and headed straight to Islamorada.
The crew had a fun evening at the temporary Fishing Club location (a new one is currently being constructed). Everyone enjoyed the great food, drinks, and plenty of jokes and laughter. Tournaments are competitive and chaotic on the water, but when it’s fantastic to see everyone getting along so well and how excited and congratulatory they are toward the winners. It’s good sportsmanship to its finest.
Team Main Attraction graciously accepting 2nd place at the awards banquet.
34th 2023 Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament
Leg three of this year’s Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship series was the 34th 2023 Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament. Team Main Attraction angler Mark Busch was defending the Top Angler title for the third year in a row. Adding to the pressure, Team Main Attraction was positioned in a way that gave them a real shot at winning the series.
On the morning of January 20, team Main Attraction ran far to the east, hopeful that’s where the fish would be. The water looked nice and clean, but the crew couldn’t get a Sailfish to bite! To add to the frustration, they knew some Sailfish were eating out there because they could hear over the radio when a competing boat raised a pack of fish and converted on a release.
Despite their best efforts, a hungry Sailfish eluded them on day one. This serves as a poignant reminder that success isn’t guaranteed even with a top-notch fishing vessel, an exceptional captain, a skilled crew, seasoned anglers, and all the necessary gear. You still need all those things for the best chance, but you also need a wink from Lady Luck now and again.
Robert “Reggie” Hiro prepares a bait moments before casting.
Day two was a bit cooler than the previous day, and by 9 am, not a single boat had a bite yet. It would be another half hour or so before the first fish was caught on day two. Unfortunately, It was a quiet morning for the Main Attraction team again. Marty did see a giant Bluefin Tuna at one point, which was exciting. Other than that, every Sailfish he found turned down the baits presented.
Mark Busch searches the seas for signs of fish.
Finally, at 12:52 pm, Alex Lewis got a sailfish to eat and put one on the board for Main Attraction. About an hour later, Danny caught one at 1:58 pm, the last fish of the tournament. It was a tough weekend; it felt like the weather and luck were working against them the whole weekend.
Team Main Attraction finished the 2024 Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship in 4th place overall, and while it wasn’t in the top three, the team had fun and was proud of what they did. At the end of the day, all you can do is convert fish that will eat into catches, and that is precisely what they did.
Plenty more tournament action is left in the year; come back often for future updates. If you want to get in on some exciting Tournament fishing action, call us at 305-289-0071.
The Marathon Premier Sailfish Tournament is right around the corner, and team Main Attraction is fishing it on April 19 & 20 aboard the Main One. If you are looking for a charter to compete in this tournament, we may still have a couple of boats available. This Sailfish Tournament was founded by Main Attraction co-owner Katie Lewis in Marathon, Florida, and has raised $20,000 for the Mission Fishin’ organization. Contact us for more details.