Boston Man Battles Bulls For Spanish Fly Win! - The Fisherman

Boston Man Battles Bulls For Spanish Fly Win!

The release of six bull sharks earned the Calico Creek team top honors in the offshore division of the Spanish Fly Shark Tournament that ended April 7. Led by team captain Mike Barratta of Boston, Massachusetts, the team fished on the Calico Joe skippered by Joe Eppy of Key West.

“We were using bonita for bait and we were primarily fishing wrecks and reefs in the Gulf,” said Barratta, who added that the team had to adjust their pre-planned angling strategy based on high winds on the tournament’s two fishing days.

While six bull sharks were officially scored according to tournament rules, the winners also released 12 additional bull sharks for a total of 18. As well as Barratta and Eppy, the team consisted of Alex Harmon of Summerland Key, Florida.

Barratta said they weren’t sure of the win until shortly before the awards ceremony.

“We thought we did well but there were a lot of good teams, so we were cautiously optimistic,” said Barratta – a feeling that he said quickly turned to jubilation when Calico Creek’s victory was announced.

In the tournament’s inshore division, the Don Tiburon team was named the winner, also with six releases. Captained by Kyle Kelso of Big Coppitt, Florida, the team consisted of Big Coppitt angler Chris Cahill, Shawn Gable of Stock Island, Florida, and Karl Tschiegg of Cudjoe Key, Florida.

According to Kelso, all six of the team’s bull shark releases were achieved on the second fishing day.

“The first day, we caught every type of shark except bull sharks,” said Kelso, a situation that prompted a change in tactics that led to the following day’s releases and the win.

“We waited them out in a known area, about 20 miles west of Key West – closer to the Marquesas than Key West,” Kelso said of their target species.

Second place in the offshore division went to Cowboy Cowgirl Sportfishing, led by Key West’s Captain Mark Baumgarten and Captain John Payne of Big Pine Key, Florida. The team caught and released three bull sharks while fishing on the Cowgirl. Colorado teammates consisted of Deryk Harpster, Tony Harpster, Leo Haro, Colton Waters and Keegan Waters.

Team Seaborn also released three bull sharks, but ended the tournament in the offshore division’s third place based on time. Fishing with Key West’s Captain Jason Brewer on Seaborn were Troy White, Lukas White and Taylor Hughes, all of Ontario, Canada; and Key Wester Timothy King.

Second place in the inshore division went to the Tail Chasin’ team with one release. Captain Gabe Nyblad of Little Torch Key, Florida, guided anglers Will Saputo and Tom Bremer, both of Traverse City, Michigan.

The all-release tournament was organized by the Jose Wejebe Memorial Foundation to honor the late Florida Keys charter captain and “Spanish Fly” television personality. Proceeds are to benefit the foundation’s work in conservation, education and making fishing dreams come true.