BOCA GRANDE, Fla. — Getting away from the pack paid off for legendary Boca Grande Capt. Jeff Totten and his Team Century/Yamaha mates.
In Week 2 of the Miller High Life Professional Tarpon Tournament Series presented by Century Boats, Totten decided to avoid entangling with the 49 other boats of four-man teams fishing on a record-setting day in Boca Grande Pass, Fla.
"With so much action I wanted to find my own fish, so I used my Humminbird side imaging to find a small pod away from the pack and we got bit," Totten said.
Totten and Team Century/Yamaha stole the show just after the first hour of competition, when their fish reached the Miller's Ale weighboat and tipped the Tires Plus scale at 174 pounds, the largest fish weighed during the 2009 season.
"We got it boys," Totten said to his team after hearing the weight. "The weather this week has been so bad, I knew anything over 170 pounds was going to be hard to beat."
After five days of tropical storm like weather that produced nearly 10 inches of rain and high winds with gusts of nearly 40 knots, the weather pattern finally changed and with it, the fishing.
The Miller High Life PTTS set a record as 72 fish were landed and released during the three hours, which equates to one every three minutes. It is the largest number on record for any single-day tarpon tournament.
The numbers were impressive but the size were not far behind. Thirteen tarpon were brought to the weighboat, tipping the scales at 2,139 pounds. The average fish weight was just above 140 pounds.
Totten's prediction would hold true as no one seriously threatened to his lead. With the victory, Team Century/Yamaha won a new Century 2102 Inshore powered by a Yamaha F150 four stroke motor and Continental aluminum trailer.
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Capt. Doug Creek and his Century/Miller Chill team took an early lead, weighing in a fish at 155 pounds.
"We're happy," Creek said. "We've got a new team put together and we worked out the kinks last week, and we're ready to go."
Creek's fish fell to third place but his day continued to be fruitfull. He and his crew would land an additional three fish, and secure a single-day record of 555 points in the Yamaha Team of the Year Race, moving him into the third place.
As the event progressed the drama became which fish would remain in the Top 5 pay positions. Seven fish were weighed in between 140 and 150 pounds.
Former NBA player Matt Gieger, fishing for Team Courtside Grille led by Ronnie Kien, hooked the fish which led them on a 20-minute battle during which that had to overcome a reel malfunctioning, and numerous bull sharks attempting to take their fish. The fish would eventually be landed and weighed, and it placed second at 158 pounds.
Late in the event, Team Howard Leasing, led by Capt. Chuck Howard, winner's of last year's Week 2, capped a 47-minute battle which included entanglement with other competitors and shark attacks by landing a 150-pound fish to take fourth place.
Silently through the day Capt. Artie Price and his Team Miller's Ale House released three fish, which moved them into first place in the Yamaha Team of the Year Race. Price, a three-time Yamaha Team of the Winner, is happy to be back up top.
"We couldn't seem to hook any big one's, so we just decided to rack up points for Team of the Year to take the crown back," he said.
Teams earn points in the Race by weighing and releasing fish. Points are also awarded for Top 5 fish weight, placing in the Top 5, leading an event, and registering the most releases in a single event. The winner is crowned after the PTTS's final regular series event during Week 5.
This year's winners will receive limited edition, two-carat Diamond encrusted Nucleus watches by Reactor Watch, valued at $7,500 a piece, along with a Yamaha F250 four stroke motor, for a total of nearly $50,000 in prizes. The second-place team will receive a trip to fish at the exclusive Crocodile Bay Resort in Costa Rica.
The Miller High Life PTTS season continues next Sunday, May 31 with the series double-header event.
The Miller High Life PTTS presented by Century Boats is the largest and richest live-release tarpon tournament in the world, featuring five regular season events and one championship event all held in Boca Grande Pass, Fla.
The event began with the presentation of the colors by members of the Florida Army National Guard, color guard, from Alpha Company 2-124, The Apache Company. Capping the Memorial Day tribute was U.S. Army Sgt. Christina Oanes, who performed the national anthem for the event from Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
Top Five Week 2
1ST PLACE: CENTURY/YAMAHA-JEFF TOTTEN, ENGLEWOOD, FL: 174 pounds
2ND PLACE: COURTSIDE GRILLE- RONNIE KIEN, TAMPA, FL: 158 pounds
3RD PLACE: CENTURY/MILLER CHILL-DOUG CREEK, PUNTA GORDA, FL 155 pounds
4TH PLACE: HOWARD LEASING-CHUCK HOWARD, BRADENTON, FL 150 pounds
5TH PLACE: CAPTAINWILLBURBACH.COM-WILL BURBACH, TARPON SPRINGS, FL: 148 pounds
Yamaha Team of the Year Top 5 standings (After Week 2)
Captain Name Team Name PTS
Price, Artie Miller's Ale House 780
Kocsis, Stephen Culo Majada 770
Creek, Doug Century/Miller Chill 755
Totten, Jeff Century/Yamaha 724
Greene, George MGD 64 705
For more information and pictures please visit, www.TarponAnglersClub.com