[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he number of bonito landed may have been low on August 22nd, but the number of registered boats for the Treasure Coast Bonito Blast (TCBB) rose to 136, holding its place as one of the biggest tournaments on the Treasure Coast. Temperature soared to 94°F, but so did enthusiasm, as anglers were in to support the Wounded Warriors of South Florida (WWofSF) and its mission to serve post 9/11 disabled veterans.
This event also welcomes veterans on board. Captain Billy Black took a four-member Marine Honor Guard, three of whom have been awarded the Purple Heart, out on the Duchess, giving one marine, Mat Yasman, the opportunity to catch his first dolphin.
Boats lined up for the Twisted Tuna weigh in. Deitz Devant caught the largest bonito at 20-pounds, putting him in the first place slot. Bill Onuska took second place with a 17.4-pound bonito and close behind him at 17.2-pounds, Jim Hattaway took third place.
Bill Onuska has his reasons for fishing the Bonito Blast: “How can you go wrong for $100? This tournament is great for the family and you know you’re going to catch something.”
Bill’s son, Bryan, won the junior angler, boys division with his 11.3-pound bonito. Winning with her 9.0-pound catch was Elizabeth Blasie
Winner of the Dolphin Calcutta, Lenny Decker, with his 15.6-pound catch said, “I’m a vet and want to give back to the vets”. And that’s just what he did when he gave some of his prize money to Wounded Warriors of South Florida.
Jim Garrity, along with Scott Levin and Rob Stephan, took three junior anglers out to target snapper, one of whom caught the winning bottom feeding fish. Ryder MacCarthy caught a 13.1-pound mutton snapper that in some pictures appeared to be bigger than he was.
Hundreds of Bonito Blast anglers and local supporters streamed into Manatee Island Bar and Grill in Port Salerno, to attend the awards party. Included were the American Freedom Riders, who together with Flyin’ Blind, donated $10,000 to WWofSF. The events of the evening got underway with the procession of the Marine Honor Guard.
Prior to the awards, a plaque was presented by LT Gen. Robert Chelberg, president of WWofSF, in memory of Joe Howard. Engraved were the words, “All Gave Some and Some Gave All.” Joe gave all; he was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America and numerous charitable organizations, including the Bonito Blast. Joe died this past July. He dedicated his life to serving others, especially fellow veterans, who were never far from his heart. It was a moment for all to reflect on what brought us together.
After a long day of fishing and all awards presented, auction bids won, raffle tickets drawn, Bonito Blast’s generous participants, sponsors and contributors pulled together $40,000 to donate to Wounded Warriors of South Florida. Not a bad catch.