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The Fort Pierce Fishing Frenzy concluded Saturday May 12, 2018 in the face of poor weather forecasts.

TCPalm’s Ed Killer covered the event:

Lyle Chandler wanted to keep fishing. That was his vote.

But after a 56.4-pound bull dolphin landed on the deck of Unreel, his Mercury-powered Fort Pierce-built 27-foot Ameracat, Chandler was outvoted 3-1.

It was only a few minutes after noon, and the scales at Causeway Cove didn’t open until 3 p.m. Angler Stephanie Langel had just battled the raging bull for 45 minutes until husband Phil Langel could gaff it and haul it over the gunwale. Erin Chandler had just reeled in a smaller fish — a cow, or female, dolphin — and the whole crew was celebrating. They knew the big dolphin was big.

But was it big enough to win $10,000 — the top prize in the 22nd annual Fishing Frenzy tournament presented by Geico Treasure Coast and the St. Lucie Chamber of Commerce?

Chandler, of White City, said he and his wife had never entered a fishing tournament before. Erin, a breast cancer survivor, had not been on the boat in a long while, and one day while talking to their neighbors — the Langels — they all decided it would be fun to enter the Frenzy.

They waited until the week of the tournament to enter, keeping an eye on weather forecasts for Saturday.

“We took along some double-rigged ballyhoo,” Chandler explained. “I was checking some apps to see where the offshore temperature breaks were and found some that looked good down off St. Lucie Inlet. So that’s where we headed after checkout at Fort Pierce Inlet.”

There were 131 boats entered in this year’s Frenzy, Terissa Aronson said. The tournament paid out $10,000 to first place, $3,000 to second, $2,000 to third and $1,000 to fourth for heaviest dolphin, a fish better known on seafood restaurant menus as “mahi mahi.”

“In 10 minutes, we got a little schoolie and I thought that was a good sign,” he said. “Then, for the next 2-3 hours it was nothing but weeds and bonitos.”

Chandler trolled north along current edges and temperature breaks waiting for that one knockdown. The wives chose to take naps on the boat’s bean bag chairs until something exciting happened.

Then, at about 11:15 a.m., in 150-200 feet of water northeast of Fort Pierce Inlet, they had two rods go off.

“My wife grabbed the one rod and began fighting her fish on the one side, but Stephanie was the only one who saw the other fish bite,” Chandler said. “She said it was a big fish.”

2018 Ft. Pierce Fishing Frenzy Winners

1st Place 2nd Place
Angler Gary Hedrick Angler Paul Trabulsy
Captain Gary Hedrick Captain Phillip Busch
Boat # 127 Boat # 207
Boat Name My 3 Sons Boat Name Southern Eagle
Weight 57.80 Weight 36.00
Payout $10,000.00 Payout $3,000.00
3rd Place 4th Place
Angler Joey Whittaker Angler Ricky Spikes
Captain Robert Wall Captain Chris Carter
Boat # 261 Boat # 215
Boat Name Hell Razor Boat Name Knot Scared
Weight 30.85 Weight 27.50
Payout $2,000.00 Payout $1,000.00
Lady Angler Junior Angler
Angler Alicia Renz Angler Caleb Pallas
Captain Patrick Rich Captain Richard Studer
Boat # 249 Boat # 204
Boat Name TipSea Pirate Boat Name White’s Tackle /Seacoast Air
Weight 13.4 Weight 15.40
Payout  $250.00 Payout $100.00