MARATHON, Florida Keys — More than 900 anglers among 117 boats hit the waters off the Florida Keys during May’s opening weekend for the 15th annual Tom Thumb Bull and Cow Dolphin Tournament, one of the Middle Keys’ most popular fun-fishing events.
Overall boat team winners Contagious, led by Captain Brian Cone of Islamorada, Florida, earned $25,000 in cash and prizes. Team anglers Don Deleon and Rob Deleon from Miami, Florida, and Keys residents Travis Bennett and Andy Cone posted the largest combined weight of a bull and cow dolphin fish, 47.6 pounds, for the win.
Contagious also earned $1,000 for the heaviest combined weight of three dolphin at 70.6 pounds.
Anglers Neil Austin, Donald Schmidt and Steven O’Rourke of Littleton, New Hampshire, placed second overall, earning $3,000 in cash and prizes for a 41-pound bull and cow combo caught while fishing on their private vessel, Ben Lucky. A 34-pound fish earned them the tournament’s prize for the single largest dolphin overall.
Top female angler title went to Jessica Topic, a resident of Cape Coral, Florida, for her 15-pound fish.
Islamorada’s Ben Friedman garnered the top junior angler title with a 23.6-pound dolphin.
According to organizers, the tournament’s family-friendly, all-skills-welcome format enables the top prize payout to increase as more boats register. Each year a guaranteed grand prize of $10,000 cash goes to the team that catches the largest bull and cow dolphin fish combined, with the amount rising and building excitement as registrations increase.
Overall boat team winners Contagious, led by Captain Brian Cone of Islamorada, earned $25,000 in cash and prizes.