by Bob Wonders
Conditions were less than ideal off Key West, Florida, early this week when the fleet headed out for the opening day of the World Sailfish Championships.
’’Ovation’’ ready and willing to begin fishing the World Sailfishing Championships.
Two teams, ‘De-Bit-Able’ and ‘High Standards’ share the early lead, claiming their fish with only minutes left on the clock.
‘De-Bait-Able’ is leading the tournament based on the fact it released its last fish first at 3.26pm (local time), while ‘High Standards’ was hooked up but did not release its fourth fish until 3.31.
Alex Adler, skipper of the Islamorada boat ‘De-Bait-Able’, described conditions as 'tough.'
'The water was good, but it was breathless,' he said.
'There was only about three knots of wind out of the northwest, so basically no wind to speak of, it was oily calm.
'If we’d been on a sailboat we’d probably have been sitting there for days,' he added.
Adler and his crew, Mike and Billy Walsh, Mike and Jay Lanigan, Eric Soderholm, K.J.Zeher and Nick Zeher resorted to sight fishing just to ‘stay in the game.’
'We saw some fish that were free jumping out in the deeper water, but they were hard to line up,' Adler explained.
'We stuck it out, though and raised quite a few, it worked out that we fought two right before lines out.'
The fish raised came from the crew spotting jumping sails and was able to cast baits right to the fish.
During the day, however, even placing a bait into a fish’s mouth did not seem to help.
Adler said he had an opportunity to throw a bait directly at one sailfish.
'He just kept spitting it out, giving me no chance to set the hook and this was just one we saw that simply was not hungry,' he added.
Fortunately for all competitors, the mood of the fish changed with the incoming tide.
The crew aboard 'Rambunctious' prepare their hear as the boat leaves Key West Harbour. - sailfish world champs
Key West was once well-known as a hang out for pirates, so this boat could be said to appropriately decorated. - sailfish world champs
'They started feeding better, you could see their mood change and they were becoming more aggressive; they perked up at the end of the day, the ball was in our court and it worked out for us.' Adler explained.
‘De-Bait-Able’, a 65’ Viking sportfish, would have had the lead on its own except for
With skipper Nick Carullo at the helm, ‘High Standards’ was allowed to keep fishing part the lines-out time as it was already fighting a fish at that time.
The crew released that fish at 3.31 and tied for the lead.
At day’s end, 71 boats had released 66 fish.
‘The Edge’, with Captain Chris Leon on deck, recorded the first release of the day.
Although ‘De-Bait-Able and ‘High Standards’ hold the lead, they are being closely pursued by a slew if boats, including a hard-core bunch of seasoned competitors.
Six crews are tied at three releases each, ‘Wound Up’, ‘Cool-Cat’, ‘Rock Star’, ‘Viking 64’, ‘Miss Britt’ and ‘Predator.’
Conditions don’t look likely to change, so competitors will again be facing a tough day two later this week.
’De-Bait-Able’, the 65’ Viking skippered by Alex Adler, holds the tournament lead jointly with ’High Standards.’
'Miss Britt' "loaded for bear" as she heads out from Key West Harbour. - sailfish world champs