NSB Billfish tourney starts today – Daytona Beach News

The 13th annual New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational heads to sea today, and this tournament’s fleet can legitimately claim to have some of the best fishing crews in the world.

The Invitational has approximately $100,000 in cash and prizes on the line, but the event’s real prestige is its standing as a qualifier for the International Game Fish Association’s Offshore World Championship. It’s a status attained through an application process that includes abiding by rules such as hook types and line strengths.

There are around 60 crew invitations available annually to the World Championships held each May in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Win one of the qualifying events in destinations that include Malaysia, Barbados, Hawaii, Costa Rica and New Smyrna Beach and you’re in.

In 2002, the New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational’s winners went on to win the IGFA’s Championship, out-fishing 56 teams from 22 countries and 12 states. The crew was Port Orange’s Frank Schaaf and Joe Pinero, Scott Laney of New Smyrna Beach, John Lloyd of Ponce Inlet, Walker Holcomb of Winter Park and Danny White of Edgewater.

In 2010, the Invitational’s representatives took third at the World Championship. That crew of Sammy Vaughn’s Lor-A-Di out of Daytona Beach was Ty Moore, Ronnie Bledsoe, Ralph Schoenherr and a then-17-year-old Cody Moore, who also earned the second-place individual angler award at worlds.

The Invitational also offers a qualifying spot in the World Billfish Series’ Grand Championships in Costa Rica for its individual top angler.

The Invitational’s fleet is small, typically 20 to 25 boats. Compared to the 100-boat fields of many of today’s Florida tournaments, the Invitational’s allure is not as a popular weekend family event.

With its $1,600 entry fee, the invitational is focused on elite competition.

“The average size boat is over 40 feet in length and has an average value of over $800,000, if not even higher,” said tournament organizer Capt. Jon Zeller of New Smyrna Beach. “We’ve had boats as short as 31 feet and as large as 71 feet.”

Zeller said the Invitational’s crews consist of people from all over the East Coast, and he’s even had contestants fly in from Hawaii and Alaska.

And these captains and boat owners are only looking for the very best mates and anglers.

“You’ve pretty much got a professional crew on every boat,” said Capt. Laney, who is running the Decoy in this year’s Invitational. “You hire the best you can get. You need three or four top anglers.”

The anglers are paid an average of about $200 per day in the two-day event, plus a percentage of any winnings, Laney said.

And the mates and captains hired as anglers have zero margin for error. When a boat gets multiple sailfish strikes at one time, a top crew can instantly gain control of the chaos to capitalize on every opportunity.

“Everybody has a job. Everybody is backing everybody up and anticipating the next move, and if they’re not, you’re falling behind,” said Capt. Lloyd, who is running the Grand Slam in this year’s Invitational.

In just a split-second, a piece of equipment can be damaged or a fish can be lost.

“That’s a huge setback,” Lloyd said.

The level of detail and intensity involved in preparing for and being competitive in the Invitational makes this tournament “an entirely different animal,” he said.

Due to two weather cancellations in recent weeks, the Invitational is fishing its second day Sunday, splitting the weekend with the previously scheduled Fall Sailfish Classic, a tournament that also begins today and runs through Saturday.

That cooperation by the two tournaments gives crews the opportunity to fish both events today and gives both tournaments the opportunity to have different winners.

Despite the overlap, Thursday’s cold front has presented the tournaments a bit of perfect timing.

When fall’s first cold fronts push down the East Coast, countless millions of mullet and menhaden begin a southbound migration of baitfish that hangs up on the geographical roadblock of Cape Canaveral jutting out into the Atlantic.

That attracts the sailfish and marlin that stage offshore of Ponce de Leon Inlet each fall.

It is a sport fishery that has given locals the chance in tournaments like the Invitational to prove they are among the best in the world.


This entry was posted in Sportfishing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Recent Posts

  • Contact Us



  • Facebook page for the War Bird Sportfishing Charter Boat Twitter Account for Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Guide and Charter Boat Captain of the War Bird RSS Feed for Posts from Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Charters - the War Bird
    Google Plus

    To Book a Deep Sea
    Fishing Charter
    (305) 394-7420

    Florida Keys Fishing in Key Largo


  • To Book The War Bird
    (305) 394-7420


    KEY LARGO
    DEEP SEA FISHING
    • Sailfish
    • Dolphin - Mahi Mahi
    • Wahoo
    • King Mackerel
    • Tuna - Black Fin Tuna
    • Marlin
    KEYS REEF &
    WRECK FISHING

    • Yellowtail Snapper
    • Mutton Snapper
    • Cubera Snapper
    • Mangrove Snapper
    • Grouper
    • Kingfish - King Mackerel
    • Spanish and Cero Mackerel
    • Hogfish
    • Amberjack
    • Cobia
    • Baracuda

  • The Fish House
    Key Largo's Finest Seafood Restaurant
    102401 Overseas Hwy
    Key Largo, FL 33037
    305-451-4665

    Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    Dinner: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.
    No Reservations, just come on in!


  • Pages

  • Meta


  • Offshore Sportfishing in the Florida Keys

  • Tags


  • Facebook page for the War Bird Sportfishing Charter Boat Twitter Account for Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Guide and Charter Boat Captain of the War Bird RSS Feed for Posts from Captain Dana Banks - Key Largo Fishing Charters - the War Bird

    To Book a Deep Sea
    Fishing Charter
    (305) 394-7420