The team aboard Crescendo felt victory in the 2016 Operation Sailfish tournament was within its grasp. It had nine sailfish releases, the same as Contender One, Sandman and Weez in the Keys, and were ahead based on time of their last release.
“We knew we had the other guys on time going into the final hour,” Capt. Skip Dana said. “That’s the most nerve-wracking part of tournament fishing. If a team catches one more, you have to catch up.”
Just to clear any doubt, though, Dana and his crew added one more release to its stellar finish on Day Two.
Eight sailfish releases on the second day made up for Crescendo‘s slow start to the first leg of the Quest for the Crest Series. Operation Sailfish — held December 7 to 11, 2016, out of the Sailfish Marina in West Palm Beach, Florida, — included 47 teams and 218 sailfish releases. Crescendo finished with 10 releases and the most on the tournament’s second day, winning the Tier 1 Daily and Tier 2 Daily categories and $239,280 in winnings.
The crew spent the “Take a Veteran Fishing” day, one of the events leading up to the two-day tournament, spot-fishing in order to find productive water. That strategy paid dividends.
“When we are pre-fishing like that, we’re mostly just spot-fishing,” Dana said. “You’re not really tournament fishing. We caught a couple at the first spot but wanted to try a few others.”
The team spent the first tournament day off Mar-a-Lago Resort, where the crew released two sailfish. The team headed for Juno Ledge on Day Two, where the crew started with three bites and released two to close the gap on the leading teams. Two more doubles were sandwiched between two singles.
“We fished the same area, a 1-mile stretch, the whole day,” Dana said.
That last single came with two minutes left before lines were out. The team, fishing from a 35-foot Revenge center console, felt good about its standing when the leader appeared at 4:03 p.m.
“Once we got to 4 p.m. and we knew no one had a release, that last one was like icing on the cake,” Dana said. “But you have to get everything on video for it to be an official release. By having that extra fish, it’s like having some change in the bank.”
For Crescendo, it’s a stellar beginning to the Quest for the Crest series, which also includes the Sailfish 400, Sailfish Challenge and Final Sail tournaments. The Sailfish 400 is the newest addition to the series and will be held January 11 to 15, 2017. The Sailfish Challenge is February 22 to 26, 2017 and Final Sail is April 25 to 30, 2017.
Dana experienced heartbreak in the Quest for the Crest with past teams.
“I personally have fished the Quest for the Crest for about six years,” Dana said. “I used to fish with Liquid. This is my second year with Crescendo. We came fourth in this tournament last year.
“When we fished with Liquid, we came second [in the series] twice. It hurts, man. It’s hard to [win].”
Contender One finished second overall with nine sailfish releases, the same as third-place Sandman and fourth-place Weez in the Keys. Family Matters finished fifth with eight sailfish releases.
Sailsmen won the Tier 1 Daily and Tier 2 Daily categories with six sailfish releases and left the tournament with $83,530. Contender One earned $67,470 and Sandman won $61,850.
Finster‘s John Walls earned Master Angler honors with five sailfish releases. Miss Britt‘s Stephanie Choate was the top female angler with five sailfish releases, and Reel Captivating‘s Matthew Yee was the top junior angler with one sailfish release.