Ed Killer: Sailfish anglers enjoy epic, historic week

They say records are made to be broken.

But obliterated?

I mean, shouldn’t there be a little more respect shown for age-old fishing records than what has been demonstrated this week in two of the world’s most respected sailfish tournaments?

The short answer is “no.”

The longer response is “If a record is going to be broken, don’t eke it into the archives by narrowly edging it out.”

Instead, crush it like Albert Pujols does a 3-2 fastball.

The best-of-the-best sailfish tournament specialists did just that this week, and will still be at it Saturday. They not only hit it out of the park this week, they tore the record book in half and then set it on fire.

The fleet fishing the Pelican Yacht Club’s Invitational Billfish Tournament out of Fort Pierce, and a second fleet fishing the West Palm Beach Fishing Club’s Silver Sailfish Derby completely rewrote the standards of excellence in what makes for a great sailfish tournament.

On Thursday alone, the two fleets — 29 boats in one and 46 boats in the other — combined to catch and release 918 sailfish.

What was truly remarkable is the body of sailfish that is swimming around and feeding in South Florida waters this week. There must be a gazillion spindlebeaks out there for numbers like this to be posted.

The sailfish is not a pushover. It’s one of the world’s fastest swimmers. It’s often a finicky eater. It jumps, leaps, twists, sounds, sprints and does about 25 other moves to spit a hook out of its hard, bony mouth.

The 300 or so anglers and crewmen fishing for them this week have never seen sailfish fishing conditions like this.

Ever.

Anywhere.

Out of Fort Pierce, they are trolling dead ballyhoo behind boats. Out of Palm Beach, they are drifting with live baits.

The fishing is so good, I’m convinced I could catch one paddling a kayak and fishing with gummy bears.

But this spectacular fishing — being talked about around the world on social media and website forums— is no mistake. It’s been brewing up to this for generations, said Tom Twyford, executive director of the WPBFC.

“It started with the catch-and-release conservation ethic put forth by fishing clubs like ours and the Stuart Sailfish Club that began this in the 1930s,” Twyford said. “And switching over to the use of circle hooks by tournament anglers instead of J hooks helped.”

When fishing is over Saturday, the 75-year-old Silver Sailfish Derby will celebrate the fall of its all-time record of 958 sailfish set in 2006. Catching 659 sailfish in a single day Thursday was unprecedented in the Atlantic Ocean.

“It’s really uncharted waters,” he said.

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