Contender Florida Division
Capt. Art Sapp
Native SonHomeport: Hillsboro Inlet, Florida
Boat: 39 Sea Vee
Power: Quad 350 Mercury Verados
Silver Sailfish Derby, 2nd Place; Sailfish Challenge, 1st Place. 800 points in total.
Captain Art Sapp is no stranger to victory in south Florida sailfish tournaments. Year in, year out Sapp has found himself among the leaders of the pack. What has changed for Sapp is his ownership stake in the boat that he runs.
Sapp and Mike Lamb, the lead angler in the Native Son’s tournament line up, are 50/50 partners in the boat. When it’s not tournament fishing, Sapp runs charters out of the well-appointed 39 Sea Vee (www.NativeSonFishing.com).
Sapp’s team for the 2019 Sailfish Challenge is a familiar one. “Ninety-five percent of the time we have the same team for tournaments. It’s a bunch of buddies that are really into it,” he explains.
The tournament line up included first mate Jim DeMarco, second mate Chris Kniskern, lead angler and owner Mike Lamb and anglers Jim Steel, Rob Degnian, Mike Gula, Chad Troncali, Bernard Paul-Haus, Keith McDonald, and Jay Jones. “We have more guys than rods, but we make it work,” Sapp says with a laugh.
Like most everyone fishing the Quest for the Crest series, the Native Son is highly proficient with the kites. The prevailing conditions for the tournament included lots of sargassum. “The key to this tournament was that we didn’t freak out over the weed. It’s been awful. We were shaking weed constantly,” Sapp explains.
Weed on kite baits can be particularly troublesome, as removing it often involves alternatively raising the bait out of the water and allowing leaders to enter the water in the hopes that the weed will float off. Leaders in the water while kite fishing often means one thing. “We had a lot of fish get wrapped up (in the leader)…lots of line in the water shaking weed.
We got a lot of bites in the weed, and the guys really worked hard. We could have gotten down on ourselves from missing fish that we wrapped up, but the guys didn’t. They worked really hard.”
“Mike Lamb had a walk-off. He hooked the winning fish with two minutes left in the tournament. He had just missed the winning fish 20 minutes earlier in a wrap-up scenario,” Sapp describes. The Sailfish Challenge was a closely contested affair for much of the event. The Native Son would need every one of their 20 sailfish to win.
“We were back and forth since mid-day of day one with Good Call. We retook the lead in the last two minutes. They are good guys, we’re good friends. That makes the rivalry great. We finished the tournament a half-mile apart and had a meet up offshore before we headed in. It was a special moment.”
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