For the fifth consecutive year, the Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys / University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame (UMSHoF) Celebrity Dolphin Tournament, hosted by Randal Hill and Andre Johnson, was one of the largest fishing event in the Florida Keys. With nearly 600 people attending the events, along with 55 former Hurricanes greats - including 25 UMSHoF members - the event has blossomed into a must-see on the fishing event calendar. The event raises funds for Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys, the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the Coastal Conservation Association and the UMSHoF.
The Friday night Captains Meeting was a mix of former Canes getting reacquainted, meeting new friends from the Florida Keys and the anticipation of the next day’s excursion to the open seas. A paella dinner was provided by Segovia Catering and live music by the popular Coconut Grove band “Live Bait” led to a festive evening. Former Miami coach, and Islamorada resident, Jimmy Johnson, along with all the celebrities, spent the evening talking to fans, signing autographs, taking photos and checking out the Vendor Village in the laid back Florida Keys weather.
Fishing began at 8 a.m. on Saturday and 75 boats went out in search of the biggest dolphin. The “Weigh In” began at 3:30 p.m. with food provided by former Canes quarterback Craig Erickson and the good folks at Hole in the Wall Pub. A DJ played island music to accompany the weighing of the many dolphins caught by the anglers. A total of 70 dolphins were weighed. A total of 362 anglers participated in the event.
After all the fish were weighed, the awards dinner began with a Caribbean pork roast provided by Mangrove Mike’s Café of Islamorada and the awarding of trophies and cash prizes to the winners. The first prize with the largest dolphin belonged to Ely Hernandez of the boat “Kaya”, with a catch of 39 pounds. He collected $3,000 and a trophy designed by Reel Tuff Graphix. Second place winner of $2,000 was Dave Resch, Sr., from “Team Johnstone” with a catch of 37.3 pounds. Winner of $1,000 for third place was Randy Weinstein on “Stage Two”.
Winning Top Female Angler was Jamie Slattery of “Can’t Quit” with a 23.2 pound catch. The boat “Kaya” claimed the $3,633 Bucket of Bucks prize with a three-fish dolphin aggregate of 77.9 pounds. The Master of the Ocean, largest combined weight of three fish in the dolphin, wahoo, tuna and kingfish species was won by “Hang Loose” with an aggregate of 93.9 pounds of fish, winning the highest total prize of $7,905.
Though not officially weighed for the tournament, Miami’s Deputy Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator, Jenn Strawley, on “Phoebe II”, caught and released what was described as a rather large blue marlin.
As the evening wore down and anglers said their goodbyes, many of the group headed over to UMSHoF member Gary Dunn’s Ocean View Inn in Islamorada for a nightcap and a few more laughs. All in all, a great time was had by all and needed funds were raised for four outstanding charities. Make your plans for the 6th annual Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys / University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame Celebrity Dolphin Tournament next year.