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Fishing Club member Susan McCart of Sarasota, Florida has become the first angler in club history to earn two of the WPBFC’s most prestigious billfish awards in the same year. McCart has won the 2013_ Beinecke Atlantic Blue Marlin Trophy_ by posting three blue marlin releases off the Bahamas last year. Her catches scored 300 points in the yearlong trophy competition. She was fishing off Great Abaco, Bahamas with Capt. Matt Rabenstine when the fish were caught. Her three fish were enough to hold off other club members who registered blue marlin releases during the calendar year, including Gary York of West Palm Beach who released a blue marlin twelve miles offshore Palm Beach. York’s fish was the only blue marlin caught off Florida registered by a club member. The_ Beinecke Atlantic Blue Marlin Trophy_ is awarded annually to the WPBFC member who scores the most release points for Atlantic blue marlin caught in Florida and Bahamian waters. Anglers receive 300 points for blue marlin released off Florida and 100 points for Bahamian blues. The Beinecke award has been presented by the WPBFC since 1960 and was originally awarded to the club member catching the heaviest blue marlin. The trophy was changed to an all release format in 1991 to promote billfish conservation. The perpetual award, a large bronze sculpture, features the names of past winners and is on public display at the historic WPBFC clubhouse. The trophy is presented each year in memory of Mr. & Mrs. Richard S. Beinecke of Palm Beach, both active anglers who were longtime members of the WPBFC.
McCart has also earned the WPBFC’s top sailfish release award for 2013, the Tracy Schneider Memorial Trophy. The_Schneider Trophy_ is presented annually to the WPBFC member who scores the most sailfish release points in Florida waters. McCart scored a total of 5,100 points (51 sailfish released using live bait) during 2013 outscoring dozens of other Fishing Club members to earn the honor. Schneider Trophy competitors earn 100 points for sails caught and released on live bait, 300 points for dead bait caught sails, 500 points for sailfish caught on pure artificial lures and 1,000 points for sails fooled with a fly. The prestigious sailfish award is presented each year in memory of Tracy Schneider who lost her battle with leukemia in 1992. Renowned marine artist C.R. ‘Randy’ Buck designed the spectacular sailfish sculpture that serves as the Schneider Trophy perpetual award, which is on display at the WPBFC as a tribute to Tracy.
In dramatic fashion, like a game winning ‘Hail Mary’ pass in the final seconds of a football game, WPBFC member Vicki Comstock of West Palm Beach has won the club’s Nora Award for the largest snook of the year. With only one day remaining before the year long trophy competition concluded, Comstock caught, weighed and released a 31 pound snook while fishing from a Palm Beach dock on the Lake Worth Lagoon. “I was literally shaking when I saw how big the fish was. It was like it all happened in slow motion,” commented Comstock who becomes the first ever woman angler to earn the prestigious title in the awards 48 year history. Ironically, her husband, Rob Kiselak, won the award 22 years ago. Since 1965, the James P. Nora Memorial Award has been presented annually to the WPBFC member who catches the heaviest snook within Florida. The longstanding award is sponsored by the Nora family of West Palm Beach in memory of James P. Nora who tragically died while snook fishing from the north jetty at the Palm Beach Inlet in 1964. Winning the Nora award is a highly coveted honor among many south Florida snook anglers.
Scott Kozak of Toledo, Ohio has won The Donald S. Leas, III International Angling Trophy, with an impressive list of catches. “I had a great time traveling around the Caribbean and Central America meeting new friends and fishing. I am a proud member of the WPBFC and can honestly say fishing has changed my life. It is an honor to win this award,” said Kozak who traveled to angling destinations such as Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, the Virgin Islands and Aruba in 2013. Blue marlin, Pacific & Atlantic sailfish, yellowfin tuna and dolphin were some of the fish he registered to earn the award. Many of Scott’s billfish and tuna were tagged and released. Several other club members were in very close contention for the award including Scott Nichols of Lake Park and Lisa Everett of Nags Head, North Carolina, who both posted impressive catches of their own that included Marlin, sailfish, bonefish and yellowfin tuna. “Selecting this year’s winner was without question the most difficult decision the Angling Committee has faced since the award was created in 2006. The catches and diversity of destinations traveled this year was impressive,” commented WPBFC Chairman Pete Schulz. The Leas International Angling Trophy is given to the WPBFC member who makes the most outstanding catches in international waters. All varieties of freshwater and saltwater game fish are eligible whether boated or released. The trophy is presented in memory of past WPBFC member Donald Stewart Leas, III by brothers Rodman Wanamaker-Leas and John Wanamaker-Leas.
No WPBFC members qualified for the_ Richard Jeck Memorial Billfish Tagging Trophy_ in 2013. The award is annually presented to the WPBFC member who tags the most billfish, including swordfish, off Florida and the Bahamas each calendar year. To be eligible, anglers must use approved Billfish Foundation or National Marine Fisheries Service tags. WPBFC member Dawn Samuels of Palm Beach Gardens registered the most tagged billfish in the 2013 competition. However, her 16 tagged sailfish fell short of the required minimum of 20 tagged billfish to earn the title. The annual tagging award is presented in memory of the late Richard “Scrambler Dick” Jeck, a WPBFC member who was a passionate sailfish angler and a billfish tagging advocate.
Christopher Labat of Boynton Beach has earned the WPBFC Pee Wee Angler of the Year title. The nine year old caught a wide variety of fish during the angling year including his first two ever sailfish releases, one of which was caught on his birthday. Casey Staniszewski of Jupiter has been named the WPBFC Junior Angler of the Year. The fourteen year old earned the title with a list of catches that would be the envy of any angler, regardless of age. Staniszewski caught and released impressive numbers of fish during the year long competition including over 120 snook releases, 28 black drum releases and 18 tarpon releases. He caught many of his fish using very light tackle including snook up to 12 pounds on 4 pound test line.
For a complete list of past trophy winners and more information on WPBFC angling programs visit the club’s website atwww.westpalmbeachfishingclub.org.