Skip to main content

2012 Madfin Final a Blowout

Teams were hoping for better weather for final fish-off

2012 Madfin Final a Blowout
2012 Madfin Final a Blowout

BOKELLIA ISLAND, Fla. -- With heavy winds blowing the entire time, the first two days of the 2012 Madfin Shark Tournament offered challenging fishing conditions. So when the event ended in a tie, both teams qualifying for the one-day fish-off felt they’d catch considerably more sharks in better weather.

A month later, both teams in the fish-off, Team Tenacity/Savage Arms (Bo Johnson and Deidra Bridger) and Team Viscous Strikes (Rob Moore and Paul Michele) felt they had enough sharks to blow away the competition. Tournament day was preceded by a pair of blow-outs, Michele’s knee and the lower unit on Johnson’s outboard.

With ominous skies, the two boats ran from the countdown in different directions, Team Tenacity/Savage Arms heading south in the Intracoastal Waterway, and Team Viscous Strikes pointing offshore.

“It was a little scary there in the beginning, with lightning cracking all around and water spouts in all directions,” Michele said. “We waited out a squall, then ran about three miles offshore where Rob had found the sharks around the bonito schools busting bait. They were kind of spread out when we got there, but the birds started grouping up over the bonitos midday.”


Michele and Moore looked to locate flocks of diving birds over baitfish balled up by the bonito, and then drift fish the area hoping to put their baits in front of the sharks below. Fishing bonito and Spanish mackerel strips, they hooked their first shark before 10 a.m., but the blacktip was under the five-foot minimum and was released after a successful hook removal. By early afternoon, Team Viscous Strikes had two under-sized blacktip sharks and had their leader bitten off by a huge shark.


“We really didn’t get into the fish good until later in the day,” Moore said. “Right around 3 o’clock we had a triple header and caught all three fish, all of which were blacktip sharks and all of them measured. The largest was a 6-foot, 1-inch blacktip.”

Moore thought the late bite might have hurt his team’s chances of winning the event because it limited their ability to catch three blacktip sharks and then move to another location and target a higher scoring shark species. Blacktip sharks are worth 150 points, and another 150 points for successfully removing the hook. Other sharks score higher point totals, including the lemon sharks that Team Tenacity/Savage Arms were targeting.

Size matters when it comes to leaders

The old school belief that long wire leaders are the way to catch sharks has taken a back page in the updated book of how to target sharks in Florida waters. Both teams fishing the 2012 Madfin Shark Tournament fishoff are using short traces of wire followed by a section of heavy monofilament and a braided main line.

Gone are the 12-foot wire leaders of yesteryear that were considered essential to landing big sharks. They’re replaced by short traces of wire and heavy monofilament.


“There’s a popular belief that sharks send out an electrical field in front of them, and that they can sense the large sections of wire,” Capt. Rob Moore of Team Viscous Strikes said. “They’ll shy away from those long pieces of wire, so we use just enough wire to keep the fish from biting us off. We attach that to a swivel to keep the twist out in case the bait spins in the current, and then a piece of monofilament and the braided main line.

Moore utilizes a 10/0 Gamakatsu “j” hook, then goes to a short 30-inch section of 129-pound wire that’s attached to a 330 pound SPRO swivel. To the swivel he attaches 20 feet of 150-pound monofilament leader and then ties that to 100-pound braided line.

The 20 feet of 150-pound monofilament gives us a good wind-on leader to help handle the shark and put extra pressure on when it’s next to the boat,” Moore said. “The wire is just long enough that if a fish swallows it, it still can’t get its teeth on the monofilament and bite us off.”


Johnson utilizes a similar terminal set-up, only with three to four feet of monofilament. His biggest concern isn’t the shark’s teeth, but its tail and body.

“The wire is long enough to keep us from being bit off, but the shark can still wrap its body in the monofilament or braid and then cut it, or hit it with its tail and cut it. They’re strong animals that can easily cut the line with their body,” Johnson said.

At their initial inshore fishing location, Team Tenacity/Savage Arms broke off what they felt was a big fish, then boated an estimated 150-pound tarpon that ate one of large mullet chunks the team were chumming and fishing with. At a second location, they broke off another big fish.

“I was getting a little frustrated early,” Johnson said. “I figured it was going to take three sharks to win, and we broke off the first two before noon, so I thought we were done.”

Johnson opted for a move to another location in nearby Charlotte Harbor, where they reset their baits in 10 feet of water and were immediately rewarded with a 6-foot, 6-inch lemon shark worth 300 points for the catch and another 300 points for the hook removal. That wasn’t until 2:30, but it was still the first shark of the day to meet the required size limit, giving Team Tenacity/Savage Arms an extra 250 bonus points.

“I was feeling good about the lemon shark, then we got another bite that turned out to be a 70-pound tarpon that threw the hook,” Johnson said. “Twenty minutes later, we had a fish on one of the spinning rods that ran out a bunch of line and hadn’t stopped when it cut through the monofilament above the leader. I knew right then, we’d lost.”

Missed opportunities and lost fish added to the mental strain, as Team Tenacity/Savage Arms seemed to lose a lot of their enthusiasm and settled in to wait out the last two hours of fishing. With 40 minutes of fishing left in the event, the team had a solid hookup, followed by the release of a 7-foot, 4-inch lemon shark, the largest shark of the event and worth 600 points plus 500 bonus points. That fish was followed by a third lemon shark.

In the same time period, Team Viscous Strikes also caught two sharks, both blacktips, one of which was under-sized and the other didn’t count because the teams already had three blacktip sharks. Teams are only allowed to fill their score sheet with three sharks of the same species each day.

The tension was high back at the dock, as both teams tried to surmise what their competitors might have caught.

“I figured they ran out into the Gulf and probably had a hammerhead (worth 1,000 points for a catch and successful hook removal) and maybe a lemon shark and a bull shark, so I thought it was going to come down to who had the biggest shark,” Johnson said.

“I didn’t think three blacktip sharks was going to be enough,” Moore said. “I figured we’d need at least one big shark and over 1,000 points to win.”

Madfin Shark Series host and commentator Tommy Saunders lined the teams up behind the trophies to announce the scores: Team Viscous Strikes with seven sharks but only three blackfin shark releases had 900 points; and Team Tenacity/Savage Arms with three lemon sharks, plus bonus points for largest and first sharks for 2,550 points. No bonus points were awarded for the most sharks, as both teams scored three.

Team Tenacity/Savage Arms is the 2012 Madfin Shark Tournament champion.

“Man, we just pulled it out in the last 40 minutes,” Johnson said. “I was sure we’d blown it when those fish bit through the leaders early. It just shows that you need to have patience and fish it out.”

“Both teams did a great job, and we were lucky to find and catch the sharks we did,” Bridger said. “It just shows how strong the competition is and how good the fishing is in Charlotte Harbor. It was a lot of fun, and I’m proud of both teams.”

Johnson and Bridger, who live together, plan to put the trophies on the mantle of their fireplace, after removing and finding space in the house for stuffed boar heads and a stuffed rattlesnake.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New G. Loomis IMX Pro Rod Series

New G. Loomis IMX Pro Rod Series

David Brinkerhoff of G. Loomis shares his knowledge of the new IMX Pro rod series. The IMX Pro rod series comes in 10 new models and will cover five technique-specific categories. Available Fall 2020. MSRP $345-355.

Hobie Pro Angler 14 With 360 drive

Hobie Pro Angler 14 With 360 drive

Human-powered serious fishing kayak; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

Berkley Hit Stick & PowerBait Pre-Rigged Swim Shad

Berkley Hit Stick & PowerBait Pre-Rigged Swim Shad

The Berkley lineup for 2020 includes a new multi-species lure, the Hit Stick which is available in six different sizes ranging from 1 3/8” to 6” in length along with a variety of color patterns.

Humminbird CoastMaster - A Closer Look

Humminbird CoastMaster - A Closer Look

Patterned after Humminbird's LakeMaster charts for freshwater anglers, CoastMaster charts bring the same features for salt anglers. CoastMaster delivers unrivaled nearshore and offshore fishing performance.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

The National Shooting Sports Foundation provides places to start.Are You a New Hunter Looking for Help? Hunting How-To

Are You a New Hunter Looking for Help?

Adam Heggenstaller - August 19, 2020

The National Shooting Sports Foundation provides places to start.

Almost anyone can catch a bunch of small catfish. Hooking a true monster requires a different level of preparation, skill and effort.A Time for Giant Catfish Catfish

A Time for Giant Catfish

John N. Felsher - August 24, 2020

Almost anyone can catch a bunch of small catfish. Hooking a true monster requires a different...

More adjustability and improved balance make these nine compounds even easier to shoot.The Best Compound Bows for 2020 Bows

The Best Compound Bows for 2020

Jace Bauserman - August 24, 2020

More adjustability and improved balance make these nine compounds even easier to shoot.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

There's no reason you can't be prepared if you catch a state-record fish.Think It's a State Record? Now What? Stories

Think It's a State Record? Now What?

M.D. Johnson - March 26, 2020

There's no reason you can't be prepared if you catch a state-record fish.

The The eastern Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more trophies in these waters than just largemouths. Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more trophies in these waters than just largemouths.Chase a Mixed-Bag Bite at Lake Oconee Fishing

Chase a Mixed-Bag Bite at Lake Oconee

Larry Larsen - April 28, 2020

The The eastern Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more...

When an angler has thinking time—like now—interesting thoughts come to mind.Sheltered in Place: I Miss My Boat-Ramp Friends Stories

Sheltered in Place: I Miss My Boat-Ramp Friends

Tory Mansfield - April 10, 2020

When an angler has thinking time—like now—interesting thoughts come to mind.

As the official zone maps of Pool 8 were handed out for the Championship Round of the 2016 Summit Cup on the Mississippi River, the six finalists scoured the maps like scratch-off lottery tickets, hoping their numbers would come up big.Past Experience Squashed by Fishing Zone Boundaries for Championship Stories

Past Experience Squashed by Fishing Zone Boundaries for Championship

Rob Newell, MajorLeagueFishing.com

As the official zone maps of Pool 8 were handed out for the Championship Round of the 2016...

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now