The 15th annual New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational was looking at rough conditions until the last minute when the weather changed for the best. Two days of calm seas and perfect fall conditions greeted the boats who remained ready to fish. The first fish of the tournament was released on Bid Time at 8:58. Despite an abundance of bait, fishing was slow and Bid Time won the day with two releases just edging out Right Hook by 16 minutes.
The entire fleet was in position to challenge after Friday’s fishing when Saturday began. Lor A Di caught the first fish of the day and Joker II caught the second as the teams recognized each bite could be critical towards winning. The crew onboard Right Hook caught two fish late in the afternoon to secure a second place finish with 400 points. Bid Time captured a sail in time for Day Two’s Nooner award and earned third place overall with 300 points.
Joker II released a white marlin to add 300 points to their total to narrowly secure the daily award and first place overall standings by thirty one minutes over Right Hook. The Joker II crew is now qualified to represent the New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational next year in the Offshore World Championship in Costa Rica.
First place dolphin was awarded to Lor-A-Di and the top tuna went to Outlaw. Day One’s Nooner award and Jr. Angler Luke Lloyd were awarded to the Right Hook. Top male angler award went to Damien Lawler on Joker II.
It is also important to remember why we have the New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational tournament. While our goals for the tournament have always included fabulous parties, the promotion of the fall fishery, marine conservation and awareness, one of our primary goals continues to be providing scholarships to local deserving high school students. The New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational continues a 15-year tradition of donating its proceeds to local high school scholarship funds with over $145,000 having been donated since 1999. In addition, last year’s four-day event brought in over $1,000,000 to Volusia County and its businesses during that off-season event.