Angling for the MET [The Miami Herald]
by Hope Katz Gibbs
Florida Outdoors Guide
The Miami Herald
The sea is calm, the fishing rods baited. The captain and angler onboard know where the fish are supposed to be, so now, they sit and wait for the catch-of-the-day.
Such a scene is commonplace around the waters of South Florida, but for Jim Anson his awards are testimony to the fact that he is a Master Angler. For the second year, the Miami businessman has won the top title in the Metropolitan South Florida Fishing Tournament (MET). Criteria for the award: at least five exceptional catches.
A 360-pound shark was Anson’s winning entry in the Fly Division. He also topped the scales in other divisions, having landed a 190-pound, eight-ounce jewfish, a 97-pound tarpon, a 50-pound amberjack, a 49-pound Wahoo, and a 27-pound barracuda.
Anson, who owns one of Miami’s largest seafood markets, says the secret to his success is simple. “All it takes is a lot of dedication, hard work and a great captain.” Ralph Delph is his captain of choice.
Some credit should go to Anson, of course, who admits he thinks about fishing 24 hours a day. “There has to be a game plan, you know?” That includes knowing what species are migrating up the Florida coast at what time of year, and “then you have to be there.”
Anson travels up to 200 miles from home each Saturday. Mostly he and Delph fish around wrecked ships. “Fishing is a team effort,” he says, “and you have to know the rules.”
Rule 1: Release any fish that is not a winning fish—unless it is caught in deep water. (Good tip: If a deep water fish is brought up to the surface then released its stomach could blow up.)
Rule 2: Release all tarpon. Keep all big sharks.
Rule 3: Relax. Fishing is a great sport, but mostly it is fun. (Anson, for instance, never sells anything he catches at his seafood shop. Fishing is his hobby, he says, and he needs to keep the two separate.)
Not every fisherman lives by the same rules, however. Reigning female resident Master Angler Donna Campbell Zequeira says fishing is her hobby because she likes getting the best of the fish.
“I’m competitive by nature,” says the interim hospital director of nursing services at Cedar’s Hospital. “I like overcoming that fish and being a winner.”
So far, so good. Zequeira’s has set two women’s world records for catching a 37-pound kingfish on a 4-pound test line and a 30-pound, 4-ounce blackfin tuna on a 15-pound test line.
“Not bad—for a girl,” Anson jests.
For the past decade the Metropolitan South Florida Fishing Tournament has incorporated art prints as part of the trophy / awards program for each annual tournament. Each print is reproduced from a painting created exclusively for the MET by a nationally recognized artist. (Reproductions are limited to 350 prints, each full-sized, signed and numbered by the artist.) The last three winners included: Phil Capen’s “The Beginning,” a charter boat dock Pier Five on the Miami waterfront as it appeared 50 years ago; Millard Wells, “Let There Be Light,” and Russ Smiley’s, “Fish of The Met,” (pictured here.)