Texas Anglers Win Islamorada Sailfish Tournament, Kicking Off Gold Cup Series

ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys — A Texas father-and-son team clinched the win in the final minutes of the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament Sunday, Dec. 3, kicking off the renowned triple-crown Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship series.

Robert Richard Sr. from McKinney and Robert Richard Jr. of Pilot Point fished from the Yabba Dabba Doo, led by Islamorada’s Captain Steve Leopold, releasing 14 sailfish for the overall win and trophy.

The team’s last fish was released just 13 minutes before the final day’s lines-out was called, according to tournament organizer Dianne Harbaugh. With 10 of the team’s releases his own, Richard Sr. garnered an additional high-point angler trophy.

Second-generation charter captain Paul Ross of Islamorada led his anglers onboard Relentless to second place with 13 releases. Tournament veterans James and Debbie David of Hollywood, Florida, fished with Islamorada’s Jimmy Hendrix and Paul Ross Jr., who also earned the tournament’s junior angler award for his three releases.

A field of 17 boats and 72 anglers tallied 137 releases over the three-day tournament, according to organizers — a significant turnout despite challenges Islamorada residents and charter boat captains have faced in recovering from Hurricane Irma.

The Gold Cup Series includes the Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish Tournament Jan. 24-25 and the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament Jan. 26-28, when the series culminates and an overall Gold Cup Series champion is crowned.