Weez in the Keys Wins Operation Sailfish With Late Push

Three releases in the final hour gives team a boost in Quest for the Crest series

Weez in the Keys sport-fishing team in South Florida
The Weez in the Keys team was all smiles after Day One, when it released 11 sailfish and held a solid lead.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements

The team fishing aboard Weez in the Keys released three sailfish in the final hour to win the sixth-annual Operation Sailfish tournament out of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The team released 14 sailfish and won $210,000 in the opening leg of the Quest for the Crest sailfish series, held Dec. 8-10 at Sailfish Marina. After the first day of fishing, Capt. Chris 'Zig' Zelienski and his crew had 11 releases. The Utopia team tallied release No. 12 just before 1 p.m. on Day Two and bumped Weez in the Keys from the lead. The late push meant Utopia finished second with 13 releases and $75,150 in prize money. The Seraphim team finished third with 13 releases and won $122,180. The Free Bird team finished fourth with 12 releases and Advanced Roofing/Sailsmen finished fifth with 11 releases.

Utopia fishing team
The Utopia fishing team finished second in the tournament with 13 releases, one behind the winner.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements

The tournament included 42 teams and started with the "Take a Hero Fishing Day," where 30 veterans, wounded warriors and active-duty military paired with elite sailfish anglers for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Stephanie Choate, from Miss Britt II, won the tournament's Top Lady Angler honors for a second year in a row. She released seven sailfish. Weez in the Keys angler Wes Stevens released seven sails to win the Top Male Angler title, and Choate edged Stevens on time to claim the Master Angler award.

Weez in the Keys sport-fishing team in South Florida
The Weez in the Keys team celebrates the tournament victory and the early lead in the Quest for the Crest series.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements
Sailfish Marina West Palm Beach, Florida
Sailfish Marina was the host of the Operation Sailfish tournament in West Palm Beach, Florida.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements
Sailfish Marina docks
The sport-fishing fleet rests at the docks the night before Operation Sailfish beginsCourtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements
BAR South sport-fishing team
The BAR South team, a previous winner of the Quest for the Crest series, prepares to head out from West Palm Beach for the start of the first day of fishing.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements
sailfish flags from tournament
Quite a few boats from the Operation Sailfish fleet were returning to the marina with a high tally of flags flying.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements
sport-fishing tournament
Participants were having a good time at the marina the night after Day One to recoup from a hard day of chasing sails.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements
boats at the docks
The fleet sits at the marina docks at the conclusion of the first day of fishing.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements
Jichi sport-fishing team
Jichi is a common name high on the leaderboard during Florida's sailfish season, and the team was back at it in Operation Sailfish.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements
Sir' Reel fishing team
The Sir' Reel team prepares in the early hours of the morning on Day One.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements
Operation Sailfish tournament
A few people roam the docks before Operation Sailfish kicks off.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements
Sandman fishing team
The Sandman team is always one to watch during Florida sailfish tournament season. Here the team is returning to the docks after raising a handful of sails.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements
Champagne Lady
The crew aboard Champagne Lady make final preparations before the start of the second day of fishing.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements
Old No. 7 fishing team
The Old No. 7 team heads offshore to begin the second day of sport-fishing action.Courtesy Endless Imagery / Bluewater Movements

The Sailfish 400 is the next leg of the five-event series and will be Jan. 17-21, 2018.