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It was a battle on the high seas for 72 boating teams competing for big fish payouts at the 26th annual Pompano Beach Saltwater Slam. The Young Guns fishing team celebrated a big victory at the Sullivan Park weigh-in station when all the weights of the fish were tabulated and the team discovered it won the coveted title by the narrowest of margins. Young Guns claimed the First Place Team trophy with 158.8 points followed by Blue Moon (157.2) and Gator One (155). The Saltwater Slam is the second leg of the Pompano Beach Saltwater Circuit Summer Series. Leg one was the Saltwater Shootout that concluded on May 15 and was won by Tax Relief under the direction of Capt. Marty Kidwell and his crew, followed by Digger Rich and Ice Box. The third and final leg of the summer series will be the Saltwater Showdown Aug. 12 to 15. The 26th annual Saltwater Slam featured 72 boats that got an opportunity to compete for the second leg of the Saltwater Circuit Summer Series with its $500,000 cash purse. (Emmett Hall / Contributor) The big money winner at the Saltwater Shootout was Capt. Chip Sheehan’s Reel Synergy team. The skilled team of anglers won the Pick 3 jackpot (kingfish, tuna and dolphin) to set a record and claim the biggest single team payout of $122,921. Coming into the Showdown Crown home stretch is the tam of Digger Rich who has a narrow first-place lead of 54 points, followed by Tax Relief (52 points), Blue Moon (51 points), Young Guns (48 points) and Mow Money (47 points). With one leg remaining in the summer series, the overall crown championship is up for grabs. Tax Relief of Pompano Beach won the Saltwater Shootout, which was the first leg of the Pompano Beach Saltwater Circuit and followed that up with a 10th-place finish in the Saltwater Slam. (Emmett Hall/Contributor) The crew of Young Guns has enjoyed a summer to remember on the fishing circuit. The team of Capt. Lance Irvine, Hunter Irvine, Reece Kramer, Doug Perez and Mark Reuwer came into the tournament missing some key crew members. The team just came off a big victory by taking the Clearwater Pro Kingfish tournament with a 55.6-pound kingfish and then won the open with a 51.55-pound kingfish to put them in the lead for the Kingfish Mayhem Pro Series circuit. Winning the Saltwater Slam among friends and peers is always a special occasion for the Young Guns crew. Irvine employed a unique logistic strategy that paid off with a victory. The Young Guns fishing team and their families enjoy a Champagne celebration at the weigh-in station at Deerfield Beach after capturing the 26th annual Saltwater Slam. (Emmett Hall / Contributor) “We traveled up to Jupiter in the morning and caught four kingfish and then headed south to Miami and got our four tunas to get the win,” he said, laughing. “We have a shot at the Showdown Crown going into the Saltwater Showdown. The guys in Pompano are the best fishermen in the country. They are hardcore and are meat fishermen. We are so proud to come out on top.” The significance of winning the tournament by a mere 1.6 pounds was not lost on Irvine. The Fort Lauderdale resident has been competing and winning in fishing tournaments for over 30 years. “It was a really close race and Blue Moon, Gator One, Native Sun and the other teams are just so talented and we are proud to have the opportunity to compete against them,” Irvine said. “In all honesty, they made me a better captain and our crew better fishermen. They taught me a lot and we have gone to other locations and won tournaments based on what we learned from these local tournament guys. They are the best in the business.” Young Guns has won the Saltwater Slam and Showdown before. The team has been sponsored by Mercury Marine for over 20 years and Midnight Express Power Boats for the last two years. The team earned $18,460 in various prize categories. Mercury/SeaVee Pompano Beach Saltwater Slam Champion Young Guns looks to dock at the Sullivan Park weigh-in station. The champions were part of the 72-boat flotilla competing for big fish payouts. (Emmett Hall / Contributor) “The Midnight Express 43 boat rides in any condition and is a fast boat with some great equipment,” he said. “We ran from Jupiter to South Miami at 60 mph. Our four 400 Mercury motors are workhorses and don’t break down. We have no failures and zero issues.” Morning Update Newsletter Weekdays Start your day with the top stories in South Florida. Having a cohesive and talented group of anglers is a key proponent to tournament victories. Having the opportunity to compete in the Bluewater Movements Inc. fishing tournaments that founder Jamie Bunn has put on for over 25 years has generated a competitive group of boat captains and anglers. “We fished short today, but we jell as a team and work very well together,” Irvine said. “I’m so proud of the guys. Everybody knows their job. Being in these tournaments with Jamie Bunn is where we learned to fish and where we learned to win. If you can win this tournament, you can win any tournament in the country.” Many of the seasoned fishing captains are passing down their knowledge and skills to the next generation of anglers, which is paving the way for a bright future. The close-knit fishing community in the Pompano area has embraced the sport of open-water fishing tournaments and has drawn a wide variety of anglers from all backgrounds. Radio personality Capt. Paul Castronovo (in white) and his Hectic Daze crew enjoyed a successful day at the Saltwater Slam tournament as they show off their catches at the Sullivan Park weigh-in. (Emmett Hall / Contributor) Legendary radio personality Paul Castronovo of South Florida’s Big 105.9 morning show has been an avid fisherman for over 40 years. He has competed in the Bluewater Movements fishing tournaments for over 20 years and was out once again with his son AJ and his Hectic Daze fishing crew. “I’m a weekend fisherman because I work during the week and I had a terrific crew with my son AJ on board who is great on the boat,” Castronovo said. “We fished in our backyard and had a great day. I have the knowledge and also the wallet to pay for the gas and the bait, which is the only reason they keep me on board. We caught around a 20-pound African Pompano, which is rare around here. This is my fifth boat and it’s fishing and Gators football for me. I love this because I know all the guys and it’s a community thing.” The Gator One G1 team is the defending 2020 Pompano Beach Saltwater Circuit champions and are in contention once again for the 2021 title. The Team Bergeron crew captured third place in the Saltwater Slam. (Emmett Hall / Contributor) The tournament’s top male angler was Devin Dickerson of Gator One who totaled 98.5 pounds while the top female angler was Spiced Rum III Sherri Beswick who caught 87.1 pounds of fish. Trey Gailing of Nauti Gators claimed the top junior angler award (28.9) while his younger sibling Chase Gailing was the top pee wee angler with 79.8 pounds. Lenny’s Luck won the small boat division category and the crew of LowKey were the winners of the non-pro division. The top family boat division was won by Living Water/Makin Time with 96.8 points.
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