The Florida Keys are known for many weekends of flat calm on the water, ideal for fishing, diving and nearly all aquatic activities. The weekend of April 22-23 was not one of them.

Undeterred, 17 boats loaded with 89 anglers battled four- to eight-foot seas, hoping to take home top honors in the inaugural Marathon Premier Sailfish Tournament. The event was the first to feature a sailfish competition in Marathon since the closing of the Leon Shell Memorial Sailfish Tournament. 

By the time “lines out” was called on April 23, anglers had reported a total of 17 sails caught and released. Team Ofishal took home the win in the inaugural tournament with four caught and released sailfish, while Robert “Reggie” Hiro and Alexis Bowcock ended the weekend as the top male and female anglers, respectively.

“We had some amazing, very tough anglers in this tournament,” said tournament founder Katie Lewis. “The one thing I couldn’t control was, of course, the most insane, but everything else went smoothly. I was just really excited that everyone was so receptive to bringing a sailfish tournament back to Marathon.”

A reception at Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, catered by Brutus Restaurant and Seafood Market and Keys Rotisserie, followed the tournament. Trophies donated by Gray Taxidermy were waiting for the winners, while numerous local fishing guides and artists donated items for a silent auction.

Proceeds from the charity event will benefit Mission Fishin’, an organization dedicated to providing memorable fishing trips and other marine adventures for special needs children, foster children and their families who would not otherwise be afforded these opportunities. For more information, including eventual 2023 tournament details, visit

Photos by Mikey Finiguerra/MFin Media LLC.

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Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.