Photos by Steve Dougherty
Pompano Beach, Fla. (Feb 25, 2020) – The 17th Annual Sailfish Challenge was one for the history books in many ways. 55 teams were treated to an amazing kick-off party hosted for the first time by “Oceanic” at Pompano Beach Pier, a premier new seafood and steak restaurant located on the beach in Pompano. The tournament partnered with Costa and their “OneCoast” initiative to help with the ongoing fundraising effort for Bahamas Relief from Hurricane Dorian.
Team FFMD won the “Lucky Fish” 50/50 raffle at the kick-off party and generously donated their winnings back to OneCoast!
An approaching cold-front brought strong northerly winds on Day 1 of the tournament with the teams fishing on the north end of the boundary battling the roughest conditions. With the fleet spread out from Jupiter to Miami, it was a slow pick for most of the day up and down the line. As time pressed on, the boats to the south managed to find a few more fish than their competitors to the north. Three boats, Doing it All/Hardway, Reel Addiction, and Potential finished the day in a three-way tie with 4 releases, but it was Doing it All/Hardway that came out on top, based on time, in their Yamaha powered 39’ Contender.
Reel Addiction were the big money winners on Day 1 with daily winnings of $51,705. Team Chop it Up had the best meatfish catch of the day with 118.8 pounds that earned them a daily payout of $7,560. Heading into Day 2, a forecast for gale-force winds and 12 to 15-foot seas led to a postponed fishing schedule from Saturday to Sunday. While the seas improved on Sunday, the sailfish bite remained slow.
Despite tough fishing, team Reel Estate/Shell Yeah stayed steady on their Mercury powered 39’ SeaVee releasing 3 fish before noon to jump into the lead with 6 releases. As the day pressed on teams Jichi, Reel Addiction, and Doing it All/Hardway evened the score with 6 releases a piece as well. It was a battle to the end, but Reel Estate/Shell Yeah was able to hang on to their time-based lead and win the tournament, earning a check for $38,125. Jichi finished in 2nd overall with 6 releases and a massive check for $204,095!
Reel Addiction finished in 3rd with winnings of $67,275 followed by Doing it All/Hardway in 4th with 13,075 and Bar South in 5th with 5 releases and a $47,405 payday. Without question, it was the exceptional meat fishing action that created all the buzz in the 2020 Sailfish Challenge. A red-hot kingfish bite off Palm Beach had crews battling to keep baits in the water all day.
Team Chop it Up improved on their Day 1 catch with four massive kings on Sunday that ranged from 31.2 to 49.8 pounds for a total weight of 156.1. They posted a combined weight of 274.9 pounds over the two days of fishing to win the aggregate weight division and a check for $22,590. By midday on Day 2, rumors were flying around about a record-setting meatfish catch onboard team Old No 7. When they arrived at the dock in Palm Beach the rumors were put to rest.
Not one, but two giant wahoo, plus a cobia and a kingfish were on their way to the scale. Both wahoo, set new tournament records in their category with the first fishing weighing in at 84.7 pounds and the second at 85.5 pounds! Even more amazing, both fish were caught on 16-pound test line, and 30-pound leader with a circle hook! Their 4-fish bag on Day 2 was an astounding 223.9 pounds, for a 56-pound average per fish! Old No 7 won $39,080 in meatfish money and earned a bonus $1,000 gift certificate from Grizzly coolers for the heaviest fish of the tournament.
The 3rd Annual Coin Challenge competition kept the team spirit alive during the tournament. Seven groups of 8 teams mixed it up to see which color group would come out on top and win the commemorative challenge coins. In the end, the blue color group emerged victorious with a total of 26 releases. Team Native Son was the grand prize winner, earning a 3 day/2 night vacation package to Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort courtesy of Landshark Lager.
Nicole Paul-Hus on team SkipJac 2 was the top female angler with 1 release and Benji Fernandez on team Potential was the master angler of the tournament with 3 releases. Branch Office defended their Non-Pro division title for the third year in a row with 2 releases. The tournament concluded at Blue Moon Fish Company, a 5-star restaurant on the beautiful intracoastal in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Anglers indulged on an amazing array of food and Reel Estate/Shell Yeah was treated to a delicious steak and lobster dinner at the champions table for the tournament.
The race for the burgundy jacket has one more event to determine who will claim the world’s most prestigious sailfishing title. Team BAR South holds the lead with 57 points followed by Jichi with 51 points and Reel Estate/Shell Yeah in 3rd with 49 points, and several other teams are still in the hunt heading into the final leg in Miami at the DoubleTree Grand Hotel with Final Sail on April 1-4.
For more information on the Sailfish Challenge, visit www.SailfishChallenge.com or call 954-725-4010. The entire Quest for the Crest schedule and series standings can be found at questforthecrest.com
Pompano Beach, Fla. (May 13, 2019) –The competition was tight and the bite was hot for the 21st Annual Mercury/SeaVee Pompano Beach Saltwater Shootout on May 11th. 113 boats and over 700 anglers turned out for the record setting tournament. The kickoff party was a blast with a live performance from Mr. Stix & the Spurience and DJ Select hosted the party inside while anglers won great prizes from tournament sponsors on the Spin-to-Win wheel, Blue Moon Fish Company delivered a decadent food experience and Hooter’s kept the free drinks flowing from Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Bacardi, Hillbilly Bourbon, Landshark Lager & Seven Daughter’s Wine. The IGFA continued their mission to teach 100,000 kids to fish in 2019 with a classroom full of kids and hands on instruction that included a free fishing rod courtesy of Fish Florida Tag Agency plus a gift certificate for a fishing trip aboard Fish City Pride drift boat in Pompano Beach.
Pre-fishing reports in advance of the Shootout had teams prepared for a hot day of fishing in the first leg of the PBSC summer series. Bryce Statham and his Blue Moon fishing team posted a great catch with 221.4 pounds of fish on board their Mercury powered 34’ SeaVee. They popped the champagne on stage in celebration of the first place win and their $25,336 payday! Pierce Statham was also the top male angler with 127.6 points. Team Digger Rich was the only other team to break the two hundred pound threshold with four kings and four tuna that weighed in at 214.1 pounds to secure the second place spot overall and a check for $10,840. Big fish have a reputation for big payouts in the PBSC tournaments and the 2019 Shootout was no exception. Angela Davis landed a 44.6 pound cobia with her teammates on team Reel Synergy. The cobia turned out to be the heaviest fish of the tournament and the second largest payout with a check for $20,598 to the team.
As the fish continued to hit the scales on the Bass Pro Shops weigh stage, records were bound to be broken. That is exactly what happened when pee wee angler, Daniel Accardi of team Sir’ Reel, weighed his catch that included two huge African Pompano plus three bonito for a total of 115.3 pounds and a new pee wee record in the Shootout! The top junior angler title went to Benjamin Dixion of team Fish Scales with 62.2 pounds. In association with tournament charity, Perry J. Cohen Foundation, and Bass Pro Shops, Benjamin also won the safety first award and received a complete safety kit including an epirb, handheld GPS and other life-saving boating equipment. Melanie Chojnacki, team High Gear, was the top female angler with 128.3 pounds.
The top 5 in the Shootout were rounded out with Slob City in 3rd with 192.4 pounds, Young Guns in 4th with 190.7 pounds and High Gear in 5th with 187.2 pounds. Young Guns was the top SKA team with a 40 pound king and a bonus $1,890. The big king also won them the Angler Armory pound for pound contest and an additional $4,000. The 2019 Shootout touted some impressive stats that included a 100 pound average for the fleet, over 150 pounds weighed in by each of the top 15 teams and over 9,000 pounds of fish in total to hit the scales!
A $200,000 purse made for a great turnout at the awards ceremony hosted by Bonefish Mac’s at the Pompano Beach Civic Center. In honor of Mother’s Day, Bonefish Mac’s presented each mom with a rose and champagne mimosas and they also had the opportunity to win some great prizes in a Mother’s Day raffle. Both the KDW Jackpot and Pick 3 calcuttas did not have a winner at the Shootout, which means they will roll over into the Saltwater Slam on June 8th where the KDW is expected to exceed $30,000 and the Pick 3 will eclipse $50,000!
For a complete list of Saltwater Shootout results, visit: https://www.bluewatermovements.com/tournaments/summer-series/shootout/results/
Next up in the Pompano Beach Saltwater Circuit is the Mercury/SeaVee Pompano Beach Saltwater Slam. Early registration remains open for the Saltwater Slam until May 23rd at midnight. To register online visit: https://fish.bluewatermovements.com/login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fHTMLClient%2f
West Palm Beach, Fla. (Dec. 27, 2018) – Recognized as both the largest and richest sailfishing series in the world, the first leg of the Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series, Operation Sailfish, will be held at the Sailfish Marina in Palm Beach from January 16-20, 2019. Participating teams will battle it out on the high seas, sailfishing both Friday and Saturday for the chance to take home a custom set of champion dog tags and a stout payday with a cash purse worth over $800,000.
Other opportunities to reel in a win include the “Release Round-Up” jackpot. This winner-take-all category is approaching a $300,000 payout at Operation Sailfish with a buy-in of only $1,000. Win the tournament and the Release Roundup and your team could be cashing a check for over $500,000. The 2018 champion team and current titleholder, Weez in the Keys went home with a cash payout of $210,000 last year. Who will earn the prestigious title this year?
This two-day long tournament will give anglers a run for their boats, rods, and money. With a variety of prize categories available to enter, anglers will have many opportunities to collect some hefty checks and patriotic trophies. There are two tiers of optional entry through the daily categories that provide teams with an opportunity to win over $80,000 on a first place daily. Early and late bite categories also offer teams the chance to win some bonus cash in both the first and second half of the day.
Along with the competition, one of the most notable highlights of Operation Sailfish is the unique opportunity it provides anglers to give back to the men and women of the United States military. In partnership with its charity, Operation Homefront, each year this tournament holds a “Take a Hero Fishing Day,” which is designed to honor and support military veterans, active-duty soldiers, and wounded warriors by getting them out on the water for a fun day fishing. Held on Thursday, January 17, 2019, each participating team will be paired with a hero to enjoy a day of fishing, followed by a cocktail reception and awards ceremony, where top hero’s will be presented with trophies of their own!
The kick-off party is held on Wednesday, January 16 at the historic Sailfish Marina Resort in Palm Beach, with a color guard and national anthem ceremony. Competition days are both Friday, January 18 and Saturday, January 19, followed by a brunch and awards presentation Sunday, January 20 at Sailfish Marina Resort. Tournament registration is available online at www.operationsailfish.com. Registration remains open until the conclusion of the kickoff party on January 16th.
For more information on Operation Sailfish, visit the tournament website at www.operationsailfish.com or call 954-725-4010. The entire Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series schedule can be found at www.questforthecrest.com