Ed Killer: Sailfish season success helps business, tourism

Even a skilled wordsmith — which I am not — would have exhausted his supply of adjectives.

That was the nature of the 2011-2012 Treasure Coast sailfish tournament season.

Each day’s story required use of the superlative case. A couple of times, as polarizing promoter Don King often does, I was forced to create words in an attempt to describe the unfathomably good catch-and-release action.

Fantabulous. Splenderiffic. Tebowonderful.

Some better than others, but the point was — what happened offshore between Sebastian and Palm Beach inlets was unprecedented.

And it was good for business, at least for a couple of weeks.

Two of the area’s five sailfish tournaments broke records.

The elite three-tournament series, the Treasure Coast Sailfish Championship, smashed its record.

Boats and individual anglers set all-time national records for the sport of tournament sailfishing.

Websites, smart phone apps, forums, social media platforms, blogs and good, old-fashioned phone lines lit up to spread the word about the great sport fishing in this special region of the Atlantic Ocean. It generated a response similar to that of Florida surfers when a large swell arrives: They came to see it for themselves.

Margie DeBolt, co-owner of DeBrooks Fishing Corner in Fort Pierce, said her shop saw a noticeable increase in customer traffic.

“It was awesome, we saw anglers come in from all over the state,” DeBolt said.

They came from Central Florida, the Suncoast and the First Coast.

DeBolt said amped-up anglers with sailfish stars in their eyes bought ballyhoo, circle hooks, equipment and tackle they didn’t already have in order to get in on the action. Like the days before technology, they pumped shop employees for local knowledge. DeBolt said it was a thrill to have the Treasure Coast back in the fishing limelight.

Thursday and Friday, Jan. 5 and 6, offered what may be the best 16 hours of tournament fishing of any kind anyone has ever enjoyed. The conditions lined up perfectly: Sunny, northwest winds at 10 knots, seas 3 to 5 feet.

In those two days, the 29 boats in Fort Pierce’s the Pelican Yacht Club Invitational racked up 528 sailfish releases using dead bait fishing methods, while the 46 boats in the West Palm Beach Fishing Club’s Silver Sailfish Derby piled up 1,024 releases fishing with live bait methods.

That’s 1,552 sails caught and released in Sailfish Alley in just two days.

Both events shattered all-time records, with The Derby ending up with 1,174 total releases, the Pelican 736.

A recent press release from Palm Beach County’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau lauded the region’s sailfishing legacy. Treasure Coast bureaus have been slower to respond, but as the multitude of fishing magazines publish their next cycle, this incredible bite will be celebrated again in superlative case, of course.

And that is simply Epictacular.

ed.killer@scripps.com

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