SEBASTIAN– When the bottom fishing got tough Saturday, Scott Bussen pulled a couple tricks from his fishing repertoire to give his Relentless II team a Bluewater Brawl tournament win Saturday.
Fishing in their home waters out of Port Canaveral, the Merritt Island team of Bussen, Mike Nicholas and Corey Kramer weighed in catches totaling 98.50 pounds to claim the top boat prize.
It was the second time in three years that Bussen and the same team members took the top prize in the annual Sebastian tournament presented by the Indian River Area Fishing Report, a cable television show.
Under the rules anglers were allowed to leave from any East Coast port.
The Relentless team’s catch included a pair of grouper weighing 36.90 and 32.40 pounds, plus a pair of small kingfish and a dolphin barely over 7 pounds.
“We had exactly two bites at two different spots and caught those two (grouper),” said the 35-year-old Bussen who started fishing Canaveral waters as a kid. “I guess the water is cold on the bottom.
“We left out of Canaveral and worked southeast, bottom fishing half the day and then slow trolling live baits,” said Bussen who used a huge bottom catch in 2004 to win.
The 98.50 pounds was the heaviest combined catch of eligible fish by this year’s 69 boats.
The Relentless also took first place in the grouper-snapper division with the two grouper weighing 69.30 pounds. Their winnings totaled $1,500.
Larry and Jodi Goethe of Mims on the Reel Togetherness were second in the bottom fish division with a 34.65-pound grouper and a 23.40-pound red snapper for a 58.05-pound total.
Bussen said the pair of heavyweight grouper hit live Spanish sardines in about 140 feet of water.
Bussen was happy with the win because he said it should give him enough HOT Circuit points to put him into the circuit’s championship fishoff.
George Kessel of Rockledge and his Shakedown team claimed the prize for heaviest single fish with a 64.30-pound wahoo. The big catch anchored a 76.50-pound wahoo total giving Kessel first place in the wahoo division.
Chris Livolsi of Palm Bay and his Double XL team were second in the big fish category with a 40.20-pound wahoo, and it was good for a third place in the wahoo division.
Second in the wahoo division went to Melbourne’s Roger Cardew and his Reel Gator team with 45.45 total pounds. Cardew also took a fourth in dolphin with two fish weighing 23.45 pounds.
A pair of dolphin totaling 32.55 pounds topped the dolphin division for brothers Jeff and Dave Driscoll on the boat Farside. Matt Davenport and Tony Houyouse also were aboard. All are from Palm Bay.
A Chug Bug surface lure being cast by Davenport may have been the attraction needed for the Farside’s dolphin catch.
“The guys always joke with me about my Chug Bug but top-water plugging is my passion,” Davenport said. “We found some good weedlines in 65 feet of water, and I started casting and pretty soon we had dolphin around the boat.”
Houyouse caught the 25.60-pound dolphin that topped the Farside’s dolphin combo with a 3-inch banded rudderfish.
Brian Davis of Indialantic and his Tickle Stick team were second in dolphin with two fish weighing 31.15 pounds. Pat McGinnis of Winter Springs and the Knotty Girl team were third with 29.75 total pounds.
The top catch of two king mackerel — 32.35 pounds — belonged to Jim Baird and his No Bananas team from Vero Beach. Daniel DeGrazia, 14, a guest on board, landed the larger of the two kings, a 19.95-pounder, for the top catch by a junior.
Tammy Styles of Sebastian was the top woman angler with a 29.05-pound wahoo on the Box Machine.
Matt Meyer of Palm Bay on the Scooby Snax followed in the kingfish division with 26.40 pounds.
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Article courtesy www.floridatoday.com