Robb ‘grinds’ out FSFA championship
BILL SARGENT, FOR FLORIDA TODAY Published 4:39 p.m. ET Feb. 8, 2017 |
Dave Robb Jr. has a determined and competitive spirit that thrives on challenges. Even in his fishing.
It’s a trait that propelled the 48-year-old Titusville resident to the Overall Club Championship for 2016 in the Florida Sport Fishing Association (FSFA), a Cape Canaveral fishing club that uses a detailed points and records system for its members’ catches.
Robb was tops among the 88 members recognized for their angling achievements at an awards dinner at the Kiwanis Island Auditorium on Merritt Island on Jan. 28.
Points fishing has been the hallmark of the 225-member club since it formed in 1968, making it one of the top fishing clubs in Florida.
Fishing as much as four and five times a week, Robb, a retired Senior Chief Petty Officer with the U.S. Navy Seabees, entered 55 catches of 30 different species for his 870 catch points, the highest in 13 years for the club. Single catches with specified tackle in six categories are worth 10 or 20 points depending on the weight of the fish. In most cases the fish are released.
“I caught my first points fish on March 23 and then never stopped. I’m a grinder, I don’t let up,” said Robb, who didn’t join the FSFA until March when a friend told him about the club.
Robb divided his persistent schedule between the Indian River Lagoon for trout, tripletail, sheepshead, black drum and redfish and the St. Johns River with its freshwater largemouth bass, Sunshine bass, catfish and even longnose gar and bowfin (mudfish).
“If I had to pick a most prized catch it would be my 55-inch, 22-pound longnose gar,” Robb said, showing a photo of the catch draped in his arms. “I was raised bass fishing in Central Florida and people think I’m crazy fishing for gars.
“It was a challenge that took me two weeks to figure out how to catch them. They want live spotted sunfish — stumpknockers,” added Robb, an Orlando native.
On his way to the championship Robb set four tackle records and achieved the club’s fourth highest individual points rating, Master Angler. Early this year he is assured of achieving the 1,000 point plateau for Grand Master status, the highest rating. But he’ll have to wait until next year’s awards dinner to be honored.
Robb’s wife Stephanie, who often fished with her husband, set two club records for women in 2016 and also achieved Intermediate Angler status.
Robb said he would be remiss if he didn’t acknowledge the guidance and direction he got throughout the year from fellow member Steve Collins, one of club’s Grand Masters.
“This points fishing was all new to me and Steve made himself available for any questions about any fish that swims,” Robb said. “Most of our conversations would be about tactics and techniques in which he willingly shared longtime secrets of his craft.”
The Fish of the Year award comes right behind the club championship in significance. It’s judged as the top catch by a panel that takes into consideration the class and weight of the tackle used and the size of the fish.
Well known fishing guide Troy Perez claimed the award with a 60-pound black drum he landed on 15-pound tippet fly fishing tackle. It also set a tackle record.
Perez, who two weeks ago repeated the feat by landing a nearly identical 59-pound black drum on fly gear, said the 60-pounder was part of a large school close to the beach south of Port Canaveral in early March.
On the same day and with the same fly rod, his girlfriend, Zella Helton, took a tippet-class world record 47½-pound drum.
Helton, the 2015 Club Champion, achieved the club’s Species Master rating in 2016 for landing point size black drum on all six tackle classes. Helton also claimed the Women’s Division Championship.
Other Club Champions in tackle groups were John Dobbins, ultralight; John Durkee, spinning; Eric Griggs, plug; Leon Vetsch, light general, and Chris Delaney, general.
Chris Pashos became the 46th Grand Master, achieving the required 1,000 career catch points. His catches included a 306-pound shark that set a light-general record.
The remaining Division Champions were: Hunter Delaney, junior; Pashos, freshwater; and Ryan Vetsch, saltwater.
Bill Hawley took home three Heavyweight awards for a 40-pound cobia, a 20-pound snook, and an 8 ¾-pound seatrout. Others were Mike Rowland, 40-pound 13-ounce grouper, Bill Macvittie 35-pound dolphin, Rob Hollander, 8-pound tripletail and Emily Rupe, 1-pound 14-ounce panfish.
A pair of fly fishing catches by Jim Ross, a 105-pound Pacific sailfish and a 190-pound blue marlin, were among the 18 new club records in various tackle categories. Griggs’ 56-pound kingfish set a light general record and also a heavyweight mark. Griggs, saying it was his biggest kingfish, used 15-pound test spinning gear last July and was trolling a live menhaden at 8-A Reef offshore Port Canaveral.
Bridget Thurston set a woman’s record with her catch of a 150-pound shark.
The FSFA is more than a fishing club. It sponsors community projects, including its annual Offshore Tournament out of Port Canaveral in June, the annual Kids Fishing Clinic at Canaveral, an on-going artificial reef program, plus student scholarship and grant programs for Brevard County schools. It has North and South Brevard chapters, each with separate monthly meetings with speakers.
For more information log on to www.fsfaclub.org.
Bill Sargent has been writing about outdoor subjects for Florida Today for 48 years. Contact Sargent at email@example.com.
Florida Sport Fishing Association
Winners of 2016 awards
Overall Club Champion
Dave Robb, Jr.: 870 points.
Fish of the Year
Troy Perez: 60-pound black drum on 15-pound fly tackle.
Tackle Class Champions
John Dobbins: ultralight; John Durkee: spinning; Eric Griggs: plug; Leon Vetsch: light general; Chris Delaney: general; No qualifiers: fly
Zella Helton: women’s; Ryan Vetsch: saltwater; Chris Pashos: freshwater; Hunter Delaney: junior
Zella Helton: species master for drum; Chris Pashos: grand master; Dave Robb, Jr.: master angler; Eric Griggs, Bill Hawley: advanced angler; Stephanie Robb, Charlie Rupe: intermediate angler
Eric Griggs: 56-0 kingfish; Bill Hawley: 40-0 cobia, 8-12 seatrout, 24-0 snook; Bill Macvittie: 35-0 dolphin; Mike Rowland: 40-13 grouper; Zella Helton, 35-0 redfish; Rob Hollander, 8-0 tripletail; Dave Robb, Jr., 8-6 largemouth bass, 15-7 catfish, 7-14 bowfin; Emily Rupe, 1-14 panfish.
Junior Heavyweight Awards
Greg Bernard, 14-0 dolphin, 3-9 seatrout; Liam Hawley, 20-8 cobia, 13-0 snook; Wesley Rupe, 12-4 redfish; Hunter Delaney, 1-12 catfish, 1-1 panfish.
New Club Records
(for tackle used)
Flyrod: Jim Ross, 105-0 sailfish, 190-0 blue marlin; Troy Perez, 60-0 black drum; General: Dan Thompson, 4-9 sunshine bass; Dave Robb, Jr. 4-1 pompano; Light General: Dan Thompson, 5-11 sunshine bass; Eric Griggs, 56-0 kingfish; Chris Pashos, 306-0 shark; Plug: Chris Pashos, 3-0 sunshine bass; Spin: Dave Robb, Jr., 4-7 sunshine bass and 7-15 catfish; Charlie Rupe, 3-2 pickerel; Ultralight: Dave Robb, Jr., 4-7 pompano; Women: Zella Helton, 5-0 sunshine bass; Stephanie Robb, 7-4 catfish and 4-1 pompano; Bridget Thurston, 150-0 shark; Junior: Elena Costello, 4-15 sunshine bass.
3:1, 5:1, 10:1 Awards
(fish’s weight relating to line test used)
Three-to-one: Zella Helton, 3 drum; Troy Perez, 1 drum; Ryan Vetsch, 3 different species; Leon Vetsch, 2 drum; Bill Hawley, 1 tarpon; Eric Griggs, 1 kingfish; John Dobbins, 1 snook; Dave Robb, Jr., 3 different species.
Five-to-one: Charlie Rupe, 1 tarpon; Troy Perez, 1 redfish; Stephanie Robb, 1 drum; Dave Robb, Jr., 1 drum; Chris Pashos, 1 redfish.
Ten-to-one: Ryan Vetsch, 1 shark; Chris Pashos, 1 shark.
Adult Sportsman Releases
Dave Robb, Jr., 30 species; Charlie Rupe, 27 species; John Dobbins, 19 species; Chris Delaney, 15 species; Stephanie Robb, 14 species; Caden Laney, 12 species; Zella Helton, 10 species.
Junior Sportsman Releases
Hunter Delaney, 10 species.
Gale Nelson, Jackie Rowland, Kurt Schirmer, Ryan Vetsch, 2 releases same day