Four Day Sailfish Bite Crushes Florida Records

The Git Lit flies 36 sailfish release flags on the first day of the 75th Annual Silver Sailfish Derby out of West Palm Beach, Florida.

After
an unseasonably warm start to the South Florida winter a cold front pushed its
way into the state the first week of 2012, and that dramatic drop in air and
water temperatures ushered in one of the most memorable sailfish bites ever
recorded. Record setting release numbers topped two historic East Central
Florida sailfish tournaments last week, as the Pelican Yacht Club Invitational
out of Fort Pierce and the Silver Sailfish Derby out of Palm Beach each crushed
records for most fish caught in a single day and during the entire event.

The
action started on with a hint of what was to come during the first day of the 32nd
Pelican Yacht Club Billfish Invitational on Wednesday, January 4. This is a
dead bait billfish tournament, so anglers many only troll rigged dead baits
such as ballyhoo, bonito strips or rigged mullet.

Twelve
of the 29 boats fishing the Pelican Yacht Club Billfish Invitational took their
lay day (boats may fish any three of the four day event) on the first day of
fishing, but the 17 boats that fished found a nice concentration of sailfish
north of Fort Pierce in 160 feet of water along a patch of beautiful blue
water. Seven of the 12 boats caught and released double digit sailfish numbers,
including the top boat for the day Boneshaker
with Capt. Scott Fawcett of Jensen Beach, Florida, which released 13 fish.

With
light north winds forecast throughout the event (optimal sailfishing winds),
the entire fleet of 29 boats fished Thursday, January 5 and Friday January 6,
with the twelve boats that took Wednesday January 4 as their lay day fishing
the final day of the tournament on Saturday, January 7. Once again, Boneshaker seized the top boat award for
the day releasing 21 sailfish on a day that saw 12 boats catch and release
sailfish in the double digits, and a total of 259 sails were caught in the
tournament that day. But it only got better.

On
Friday, January 6, Capt. Glenn Cameron of Fort Pierce, Florida, led his anglers
about the boat Lo Que Sea to 27 sailfish catch and releases, setting the all
time one-day sailfish release record for dead bait fishing in Florida waters. On
that same day, Boneshaker released 23 sails with the fleet combining for 269
releases for the day.

The
final day of the tournament was somewhat anticlimactic as the bite tapered off
a bit as the 12 boats fishing released 66 sailfish, led by the Gotham with Capt. Kevin Paul. Seven
hundred and thirty-seven sailfish were caught and released by 29 boats over the
course of the four day dead bait event, shattering the previous record of 408
set in 2010. Yet even as good as the fishing was out of Fort Pierce, it was
even better in Palm Beach.

For
the 46 boats fishing the all release live bait 75th Annual Silver
Sailfish Derby hosted by the West Palm Beach Fishing Club, the three-day event
kicked off at just the right time, with the first day of fishing Thursday,
January 5. Using live threadfins, pilchards and goggle-eyes and fishing in 140-
to 170-feet of water just north of Jupiter, Capt. Quinton Dieterle of Coral
Gables, Florida, on the Git Lit and
his anglers released 36 sailfish on what was a record number of one-day
sailfish releases. Derby anglers released a total of 659 sailfish, topping the
previous record of 397 releases set in 2006 by 262 releases.

On
Friday, January 6, the fleet combined for 365 sailfish releases, giving them
1,024 releases over two days, which broke the Silver Sailfish Derby record of
958 total releases for the event set in 2006. But there was still one more day
of fishing to take place.

Unfortunately,
Saturday, January 7, the last day of the event unfolded much like the Pelican
Yacht Club’s Billfish Invitational finale with a general slow-down in the
fishing with only 150 sailfish released, still a remarkable catch. In all, the
46 boats fishing the 75th Annual Silver Sailfish Derby released a
total of 1,174 sailfish over three days of fishing, setting the record for the
most sailfish ever caught in a three-day tournament in the United States. The Git Lit won the event with 58 releases,
with nine boats releasing 35 or more fish.

The
four day stretch of sailfish action of Florida’s East Coast will be remembered
as one of the best stretches of sailfish action on record. Those numbers only
reflect the fish caught in two tournaments. Exactly how many fish were caught
and released by recreational anglers during the same time period is a number
that will remain moot, as one of the best years of sailfish action off Florida
goes on record. And best of all, we still have three months of sailfish season
ahead.

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