Miss Annie Takes Home Over $195,000 at the Sailfish Challenge!
A total of 231 releases during the 2015 Sailfish Challenge kept teams on their toes as they competed for a purse in excess of $380,000. 74 boats cleared three different inlets in hopes of claiming the 1st place title during this one-day tournament.
The hot morning bite started the competition off right with the first sailfish released at 7:37 a.m. by OCD, who checked out of Government Cut in Miami. Over 100 releases were called in to the tournament radio room in the morning and as the day progressed, the bite continued with full force.
Team Bar South, top team in the first leg of the series, emerged as the front runners on the first half of the day with 7 releases before noon. However, they struggled to keep the momentum rolling in the second half of the day and several other boats in the fleet pulled within striking distance of Bar South for the win towards the end of the day.
During the last ten minutes of the tournament,the radio came alive with boats calling in hook-up after hook-up. Team Swagger caught their 8th fish of the day in that flurry to leap frog past Bar South for the lead. Not long after, Bar South hooked and released another sail to even the score at 8 and then they hooked another fish. Meanwhile, other boats continued the may lay of hook-ups as well. At one time there were three different boats (Bar South, Qualifier and Miss Annie) with fish on the line to win the whole tournament! Miss Annie and Qualifier both had triple headers on! It was down to wire and the tension was building as each fish released was potentially worth thousands of dollars. When the salt spray settled, Miss Annie, finished on top with a total of 10 releases that earned them a whopping $195,565! They have been on one heck of a hot streak for the past 3 years in the Quest series. All told they have cashed checks for more than $560,000 in the first 3 years of the Quest for the Crest. Swagger finished in 2nd place with a check for $78,170 and Bar South in 3rd with a check for $44,140!
The big bucks earned during the tournament didn’t just come from the sailfish releases. Lagniappe took home a $19,550 check for reeling in a few hefty meat fish! A 46.7 lb. dolphin won them the Big Fish Bonanza and Heaviest Dolphin category. They also caught the heaviest kingfish of the tournament that weighed in at 44.1 lbs.
Master Angler of the tournament went to Will Morrison of Qualifier with 7 releases. The Top Female title went to Stephanie Choate of Miss Britt and the Top Junior was James David, Jr. from Jichi. The Top Senior of the Sailfish Challenge was Frank Napurano of Miss Annie.
Now that the Sailfish Challenge has concluded, there’s only one more chance to move up the ranks in the Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series. The last chance to score points towards the Quest race is Final Sail in Key West. This grand finale will be held April 15–19 at the Westin Key West Resort & Marina and will award the highest accolade in tournament sailfishing: The Crest Jacket. BAR South is currently in the lead with 71 points and DeBaitAble follows closely behind with 67 points. Miss Annie and Swagger are tied with 58 points.
For a complete breakdown on the tournament results for the Sailfish Challenge, visit www.sailfishchallenge.com. For a complete list of the point standings in the Crest race, visit www.questforthecrest.com
Congrats to Miss Annie and all who placed in the tournament.
The largest sailfish tournament in the country, the Sailfish Challenge, is returning to Fort Lauderdale on February 5th. 67 boats are pre-registered and ready to battle for a purse that is expected to exceed $375,000. It’s another shot closer to winning the Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series and the chance at the champion’s burgundy jacket.
Unlike any of the other Quest for the Crest tournaments, the Sailfish Challenge is unique in the fact that it allows anglers to check out of three different South Florida inlets. The chosen inlets, Lake Worth Inlet in Palm Beach, Government Cut in Miami and Hillsboro Inlet in Pompano Beach, offer teams easier access to their preferred fishing areas. In addition, they are also able to check back into any of the three inlets, regardless of where they checked out. Last year’s top team, Liquid,checked out of Hillsboro Inlet and checked back in with total winnings of $146,820. The 2014 Sailfish Challenge winners, Utopia, checked out of Lake Worth inlet and released a total of 12 sailfish that was good for a payout of $56,000. Vitamin Sea Too grabbed 3rd place fishing out of Government Cut in Miami to earn near $80,000. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd finishes out of all three different inlets reinforced the tournament’s multi-inlet structure and the fact that the sailfish bite can fire up anywhere along the South Florida coast during that time of year.
This one-day sailfish tournament also offers a meat fish division that includes kingfish, dolphin, wahoo, cobia and tuna. A team weighing in the largest meat fish can potentially take home over $14,000! Last year, Native Premonitions had the largest meat fish, a kingfish weighing in at 48.3lbs, earning them the Heaviest Kingfish division and the Big Fish Bonanza.
Teams don’t just fight for the prize money in this tournament, they can also compete for their boat brand in The Boat Builder’s Throwdown – a fun spirited competition with a perpetual trophy that circulates between builders with 3 or more boats competing in the tournament. Last year, Contender Boats dominated the competition with 66 points to earn the title.
In addition to the angler payouts, the Sailfish Challenge also donates a portion of its proceeds to IGFA Conservation Programs that work to promote ethical sportfishing and productive science around the world.
Final registration for the Sailfish Challenge is February 5th at the kickoff party, which is hosted at the International Game Fish Association in Fort Lauderdale. Competition day is Saturday, February 7th and the awards ceremony follows on Sunday, February 8th at Blue Moon Fish Company. For more information on the tournament, visit www.sailfishchallenge.com or call (954) 725-4010.