While fishing conditions were less than optimal, the 54th annual Buccaneer Cup Sailfish Release Tournament, held January 19 to 21, 2017, was nevertheless a resounding success once again this year. Twenty-six of Florida’s top teams gathered to battle it out on the high seas, with the winner pocketing a check worth nearly six figures along the way. Perhaps the best part: All tournament profits went to support the Recreational Fishing Alliance.
Teams could depart from either Lake Worth or Jupiter inlets and were also required to use 20-pound-test line and the corresponding IGFA-legal 15-foot leaders. Sailfish caught on live bait would be worth 200 points, while those caught on dead bait would be worth 300 points.
By the end of the event, the battle between live-bait and dead-bait teams had never been tighter. The team aboard Lo Que Sea emerged victorious with four sailfish releases on dead bait, good for 1,200 points; they banked over $92,000 in the win. Lo Que Sea anglers Tony Huerta and Wallace Higginbotham were the second- and third-place anglers for the tournament, both with 600 points.
The Southern Run team, fishing from a 41-foot Bahama, landed in second place. They were also the top live-bait team with six releases and 1,200 points, falling behind on time of last release to Lo Que Sea. Miss Annie, a 52-foot Viking, placed third with five sails on live bait and 1,000 points. Fa-La-Me caught three sails on dead bait to finish fourth, and Clamaholic rounded out the top five with four on live bait. Taylor Beckford from Fa-La-Me was the event’s top angler with 600 points, and Reel Candy‘s Candy Steiding was the top lady angler.