Friday afternoon’s rainy, blustery weather may have irritated motorists and beachgoers, but it sure did wonders for the sailfish bite off southeast Florida.
A fleet of 31 boats with 145 anglers released 157 sails in day one of the Yamaha/Contender Miami Billfish Tournament based at Miami Beach Marina.
“This is the best bite we’ve had this season,” said Miami’s Roger Ward, owner of first-place Just Do It, whose crew scored 18 releases. “We were 18 for 27. We had four doubles. We had a quad and only got two fish out of that. We had a couple singles. In one ten-minute period after lunch we got five fish in 10-15 minutes.”
Just Do It has a five-fish lead over runner-up Game Face, skippered by J.C. Cleare, with 13. Third-place Qualifier has 12 – including seven by top angler Trey Claus—and leads fourth-place No Problem, also with 12, on time. Fifth- and sixth-place Thomas Flyer and Voo Doo Child each has nine. The seventh-through tenth-place boats, Weez in the Keys; Jichi; Miss Britt II; and High Stakes, all have eight.
Just Do It’s Stephanie Gordon is top female angler with five sails. James David on Jichi is top junior, also with five.
Ward said his crew, led by captain Brett Dudas, flew kites with live goggle eyes and threadfin herring in depths of 113-160 feet of water “way south, out of the pack” near Triumph Reef. They also caught several of their fish by pitching live baits.
On Saturday, the fleet will increase by 31 boats competing in the tournament’s one-day outboard challenge.
Dockside weigh-in festivities Saturday afternoon are open to the public.