The team aboard All Lit Up, captained by James Barnett and James Chappel with mate Jeff Pietig, came out as the big winner in the Holiday Isle Sailfish Tournament that finished up January 13.
Six fish were caught and released by anglers Greg Pietig, his daughter-in-law Gina Boilini Pietig and brother Douglas Pietig, all of Bloomington, Minn., and Mike Duggan of Miami Beach. While Boilini Pietig had previously fished a ladies' tournament, the Holiday Isle challenge was the first Florida tournament for her male teammates.
"We messed up and lost a lot of fish -- it was a miracle we won," said Greg Pietig.
He said the team was pumped up and always positive, and credited the knowledgeable captains for their win.
"They really know how to fish," Greg Pietig said.
With only one release the first fishing day and one Sunday morning, the Pietigs didn't think they stood a chance of winning. Then they hooked up four sailfish within 90 minutes.
"We had three hooked up at one time going every direction," said Pietig. "We had to decide which one was easier to catch."
Also with a total of six sailfish, but lagging behind the Pietig team based on time of the final release, were Kyle Sherman and Debbie Austin of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Donnie Green of Tavernier, Fla. The trio won second place fishing aboard Adios with Captain Vince Austin and mate David Madilas.
The third-place prize went to Matt McLean and Scott Dunnuck of Naples, Fla., and John Timura of Islamorada. The third-place team caught four sailfish aboard Shock & Awe with Captain Robert Collins.
Winn Wolf of St. Joseph, Mich., took home the high-point angler award for three sailfish releases.
The tournament drew 56 anglers fishing aboard 21 boats. Collectively, they scored 79 hook-ups with 52 releases.