By Victor Ordija
Al Jennings won first place in the Morgan Stanley Triple Crown fishing tournament and a cash prize of $285 by catching a Tarpon, Snook and Redfish over a three month period beginning on the 1st of August and ending on October 31st.
The tournament, which is run by the Marco Sportsfishing Club (MSC), requires all three species of fish to be caught by participating anglers, and the goal is to catch the largest Snook and Redfish, and a Tarpon exceeding 30 inches.
The annual contest which began three years ago has evolved into a challenging and competitive tournament geared towards the serious angler that can commit a significant amount of time and effort over a three month period. The investment firm of Morgan Stanley has partnered with the Marco Sportsfishing Club adding prestige and additional financial benefits so that a total of five cash awards are offered to the top five anglers.
An important change that was made in this year’s contest is the suspension of the requirement that the length of a Tarpon be measured when the fish was brought to the boat. It was determined that an accurate measurement was too difficult and added both unacceptable stress to the fish and additional risk to the angler. Also, the use of a gaff has been prohibited so as to eliminate potential injury to the fish.
In order to register a caught Tarpon, the angler only needed to touch the leader and take a photograph of the fish in the water provided the photograph clearly depicted the fish as being a Tarpon. Once the angler successfully registered a Tarpon, he or she was automatically awarded a 5.5 foot Tarpon (66 points) regardless of the size of the fish caught. Every inch is worth one point.
While the rule change did not make catching a Tarpon less difficult, the change made registering a caught Tarpon easier and safer for the angler and less stressful on the fish. Participating anglers caught eighteen Tarpon in 2013 compared to only seven fish in the previous year.
An additional change in this year’s tournament is the requirement that any Snook and Redfish caught and registered be aligned along a ruler, measured and photographed. For all Snook and Redfish that are caught and reported, every inch is worth two points. It should be noted that while MSC encourages catch and release in the tournament, legal fish may be kept and only fish that are to be eaten should be kept.
Thirty-six MSC anglers participated in the tournament. All the anglers in the top five places caught all three fish species (Tarpon, Snook and Redfish).
In addition to catching a Tarpon, Al Jennings caught a 39.5” Snook and a 27.75” Redfish for a total of 200.5 points and a cash prize of $28. Jennings will have his name engraved on the perpetual plaque that will hang in the Marco Island office of Morgan Stanley.
In second place was Tom Kraemer with a 37” Snook and a 30.25” Redfish; also with 200.5 points and a cash prize of $235. Under the rules, the earliest fish caught breaks a tie. Jennings caught a Tarpon on August 3, 2013 and his was the earliest fish.
Third place went to Allan Bristow with a 32.75” Snook and a 32” Redfish for a total of 195.5 points and a cash prize of $185.
Fourth place was taken by this writer, Victor Ordija with a 32” Snook and a 32.25” Redfish, 194.5 points and a cash prize of $135.
Rounding out fifth place was Bobbie Ordija, the highest placed woman in the tournament standings with 183.5 points. Bobbie Ordija caught a 32” Snook and a 26.75” Redfish which earned her a cash prize of $85.
While the Morgan Stanley Triple Crown Tournament is a challenging and competitive contest, it is also very laid back from the standpoint that it allows the individual angler to fish at his or her own pace. The angler can fish at any time; both day or night, anywhere within the backwater boundaries established by MSC and with any other angler or alone. It allows for experimentation by choosing different baits both live and artificial as well as fishing techniques, presentation, etc. The goal is the catch the largest fish with respect to Snook and Redfish and to also catch the elusive and hard to land Tarpon. At the end of the contest, the participant will be a better angler and more respectful of our precious environment.
The Marco Sportfishing Club is a non-profit organization comprised of more than 370 fishermen, boaters and outdoor enthusiasts who live in the Marco Island, FL area. In addition to enjoying all the outdoor activities this beautiful Southwest Florida location has to offer, the Club prides itself in its ability to “give back” to the community. Members of the club are active and involved in the community and have been instrumental in organizing and staffing many events that teach local children the joys of fishing and good fishing etiquette. The events and organizations MSC has been involved with include the Marco Island Cub Scouts, Marco Island Historical Museum, National Estuaries Day at Rookery Bay, The Naples Kids Fishing Clinic, Goodland’s Birthday Celebration, Naples Botanical Gardens, and the Port of the Isles Kids Fishing Clinic. To find out more about the Marco Sportfishing Club, please go to their website: www.marcosportfishingclub.com.