KEY WEST, Fla. — Carl Masiello does not fish professionally. Maybe he should.
For the third year in a row, Masiello and local Key West guide and teammate Tony Murphy took home the trophy.
Marsiello, a 49-year-old hotel properties owner, enjoyed the mugging dealt out by his beaming wife and children. Greeting his well-wishers with a wide smile, Masiello offered encouraging words and expressed gratitude as television cameras tracked both his and Murphy's movement inside King's Pointe Marina's Sailfish Club-turned-studio.
"I do this for the fun aspect," Masiello said. "I'm the recreational fisherman."
In a secluded alcove just out of view from the main gathering, Murphy and Marsiello, together representing Team Lowe's, shared their immediate thoughts on their three-peat with ESPNOutdoors.com staff.
"I'm amazed we've won this thing for three years in a row," Masiello said. "With the people we see that compete in this — it's just amazing."
But he also suggested Murphy's skills as a captain have more to do with Team Lowe's success than pure dumb luck.
"A lot of this is Tony. As far as the way he reads the water or gets a feeling when he gets up to a spot," Masiello said. "He'll say, 'this isn't going to work, bro,' and we'll move."
Standing beside Masiello, the confident British transplant to the Keys nodded in agreement until his partner yielded. He needed to recognize one particular
"Steve Rodger is just a fantastic fisherman," Murphy said about the angler with whom he shares a marina. "Look at the way he (and partner Jake Perry) have kicked everyone's butt on the first two day the last two years. It's just the way this tournament is set up. We had been third place, second place, you know?"
Team Lowe's snagged a 7-foot, 5-inch shark for the 500-point "biggest shark of the day" bonus. Rodger and Perry, fishing for Team Academy, landed a 7-3 shark, and that two-inch difference meant a 1,000-point swing and second place for Rodger and Perry.
Still, Murphy notices his team's pension for sealing the deal on the tournament's last day.
"I don't want to sell myself too short, either, because I'm obviously doing something right," he said about the successful title defense. "A lot of the time, I've made a decision before I've gone to bed, but when I wake up, I check the wind, check the temperatures and check the tides — and my decision changes."
When asked how they would feel had they been on the other side of those two inches, both men had answered quickly and sternly.
"I didn't think we did enough today," Masiello said. "I thought we needed to do a bit more to be on the winning side. And if we were on the other side, I'd be the same way; did we do enough?"
The last two years, the rules rewarded anglers for staying on one particular species. But desiring more variety, the 2008 rules now granted only a quarter of the points after a team surpassed the four-shark limit per species.
"We left fish every day to find a different species," Masiello said. "That's just not something you do."
For Murphy, he identified Day One as the key for his team to avoid the short end of the measuring stick.
"We really earned this because the first day is an elimination day, and with the amount of potential minus points we had next to the boat on the nurse shark deal, it would have given us a zero by the end of the day," Murphy said.
With three championships in the bag, the topic turned to the team — and the quest for a fourth.
"Not even close," Murphy answered when asked if he had yet begun to think about another defense. "We're physically and mentally exhausted."