Hillbilly Deluxe Repeats Win in Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament; Trophy Hunter Scores the Florida Keys Gold Cup
ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys – Captain Trevor Frins of Tavernier, Florida, led his team aboard Hillbilly Deluxe to its second straight win at the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament that ended Jan. 21.
Team anglers Jess Frins, Tyler Webb, Cody Gunther and Hank Pinder, all of Tavernier; Mark Toledo of Hollywood, Florida; and Parker Cox from Key Largo, Florida, reached the Presidential winner’s circle with six released sailfish.
Frins received the tournament’s outstanding captain award and the outstanding mate award went to Hillbilly Deluxe mate Gunther. Angler Jess Frins, the captain’s wife, scored two releases and won the top female angler award for the second consecutive year.
Islamorada’s Captain Greg Eklund of the charter boat Cloud Nine led his anglers to second place with five releases. The team included Donald Gibbs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Cory Nelson from Islamorada and Tavernier residents Erik Ehlers and Ben Esh.
Third place went to team Back in Business, led by Captain Robert Collins of Islamorada, with a total of four sails.
Donny Lange, owner of The Tackle Center of Islamorada, was named top male angler with two releases. The top junior angler was 13-year-old Andy Cone who also tallied two releases. He fished on the Trophy Hunter with his father, Islamorada’s Captain Brian Cone.
The 34th annual Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament hosted 84 anglers who caught and released 42 sailfish over the two-day event.
The Presidential was the final of three tournaments in the Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship Series. Trophy Hunter claimed the grand champion award for the series.
Captained by Brian Cone, team Trophy Hunter won the first two tournaments in the series. Team members released 11 sails in the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament and five in the Islamorada Fishing Club Captain’s Cup Sailfish Tournament. The team added four sailfish releases in the Presidential, achieving a series total of 20 sails for the prestigious win.
Trophy Hunter was awarded the perpetual Gold Cup Championship trophy and a check for $17,000.
The award for the top angler in the series went to Robert Richardson, Sr., of McKinney, Texas, with a total of six sailfish. Richardson, who earned the honor for the fifth time, fished on Yabba Dabba Do with Captain James Hagen of Islamorada.
Money raised from the Gold Cup series benefits the Islamorada Charter Boat Association.
Hillbilly Deluxe scored its second straight win at the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament that ended Jan. 21. Photos: Tara Beth Photography
Andy Cone, 13, was named top junior angler in the Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship series, and his team, Trophy Hunter, led by his father, Capt. Brian Cone, won the grand champion series team title.