Seapremacy wins top boat in Offshore Challenge tournament

The fishing team Seapremacy found several big kingfish on the afternoon of April 20 to dominate the scales during the 33rd annual Offshore Challenge fishing tournament based at Riviera Beach Marina.

Led by captain Alex Burgess, Seapremacy won best boat and $5,000 with five kingfish weighing a combined 146.4 pounds — an average of more than 29 pounds per fish.

That was after removing one of their big kings (46.2 pounds) from the mix to win second-heaviest and another $1,000 in the kingfish division of the 80-boat tournament, which benefits the West Palm Beach Kiwanis Club’s scholarship fund and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County.

With storms brewing offshore and sporadic rain, the bite was iffy for several teams. Burgess said the Seapremacy team — including Mike Wood, Amber Wood, Christian Rec and Carl Toresson — didn’t catch any large kingfish until the afternoon.

Burgess said the five winning kingfish hit live goggle-eyes and live sardines in 90 to 100 feet of water off Lost Tree Village between 12:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

“It was the first time we’ve had a good afternoon bite in a tournament,” Burgess said.

Three of the team’s big kingfish were caught at the same time in a money-winning triple header.

Captain Tony Greaton on Out Numbered said his team caught the third-place kingfish, 38.8 pounds, in the afternoon. His team’s kingfish hit a live goggle eye in 82 feet off The Breakers around 1 p.m.

Last year’s five-fish weight winner, captain Bill Wummer on Spiced Rum III, had a slow tournament this year, with a 32-pound kingfish. Spiced Rum III’s five-fish weight last year was a whopping 176.9 pounds, an average of more than 35 pounds per kingfish.

Team CSTAR — captain Paul Sabayrac, mate Matt Alligood, Alan Chrzanowski, Belinda Machiela and Brian Machiela fishing on the Goin’ Raptor — boated a 56.9-pound kingfish to win $3,000 for the tournament’s top kingfish.

Sabayrac said the kingfish hit a live goggle-eye in 100 feet off The Breakers around 10 a.m. It was short and fat. “We knew we had a good fish, but we didn’t think we had a tournament winner,” Sabayrac said.

Belinda Machiela handled the rod on the tournament-winning kingfish.

“This kingfish did not want to be caught,” she said. “It went around and under the boat about five times. It’s always amazing to me how, in complete chaos, we are controlled and moving together.”

Team Trippie Tail won $3,000 for the heaviest wahoo of this year’s Offshore Challenge, 24.9 pounds. The tournament’s largest dolphin, 11.7 pounds, was not large enough to break the 20-pound minimum size for prize money in that category.

Alligator hunt in jeopardy: The first limited alligator hunt is not likely to happen this fall at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge west of Boynton Beach.

Refuge managers recommended in January that limited alligator hunts be allowed in the south end of the refuge, the same area where duck hunting is allowed. For the first alligator hunting season, the recommendation is for 11 permits, enough to allow the harvest of 22 gators at the refuge.

Rolf Olson, deputy refuge manager, said this year’s gator hunt is likely to be delayed by the settlement of a 2003 lawsuit that requires the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to combine all new and expanded hunts on national wildlife refuges into a national hunt package.

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