The largest sailfish tournament in the country, the Sailfish Challenge, is returning to Fort Lauderdale on February 5th. Over 60 boats are pre-registered and ready to battle for a purse that is expected to exceed $375,000. It’s another shot closer to winning the Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series and the chance at the champion’s burgundy jacket.
Unlike any of the other Quest for the Crest tournaments, the Sailfish Challenge is unique in the fact that it allows anglers to check out of three different South Florida inlets. The chosen inlets, Lake Worth Inlet in Palm Beach, Government Cut in Miami and Hillsboro Inlet in Pompano Beach, offer teams easier access to their preferred fishing areas. In addition, they are also able to check back into any of the three inlets, regardless of where they checked out. Last year’s top team, Liquid, checked out of Hillsboro inlet and checked back in with total winnings of $146,820. The 2014 Sailfish Challenge winners, Utopia, checked out of Lake Worth inlet and released a total of 12 sailfish that was good for a payout of $56,000. Vitamin Sea Too grabbed 3rd place fishing out of Government Cut in Miami to earn near $80,000. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd finishes out of all three different inlets reinforced the tournament’s multi-inlet structure and the fact that the sailfish bite can fire up anywhere along the South Florida coast during that time of year.
This one-day sailfish tournament also offers a meat fish division that includes kingfish, dolphin, wahoo, cobia and tuna. A team weighing in the largest meat fish can potentially take home over $14,000! Last year, Native Premonitions had the largest meat fish, a kingfish weighing in at 48.3lbs, earning them the Heaviest Kingfish division and the Big Fish Bonanza.
Teams don’t just fight for the prize money in this tournament, they can also compete for their boat brand in The Boat Builder’s Throwdown – a fun spirited competition with a perpetual trophy that circulates between builders with 3 or more boats competing in the tournament. Last year, Contender Boats dominated the competition with 66 points to earn the title.
In addition to the angler payouts, the Sailfish Challenge also donates a portion of its proceeds to IGFA Conservation Programs that work to promote ethical sportfishing and productive science around the world.
Final registration for the Sailfish Challenge is February 5th at the kickoff party, which is hosted at the International Game Fish Association in Fort Lauderdale. Competition day is Saturday, February 7th and the awards ceremony follows on Sunday, February 8th at Blue Moon Fish Company. For more information on the tournament, visit http://www.sailfishchallenge.com or call (954) 725-4010.
The final stop in the Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series is Key West! Final Sail will take place April 15-19, 2015 in the southernmost point of the United States. A champion will be crowned and the island may be drained of every last drop of alcohol!