Chronicles of a Sailfish Tournament

Fishing the 59th Annual Stuart Light Tackle Sailfish Tournament

January 9, 2013
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I had the opportunity to fish on Miller Time with my father, Capt. Glenn Cameron, during the recent Stuart Light Tackle Sailfish Tournament. The weather was beautiful, which unfortunately made for slow fishing. Apparently, when it is windy and cold, the water gets more oxygenated, which gets the sails fired up to start biting. This makes December through January a good time to fish for sails on the Treasure Coast of Florida. The following chronicles a typical tournament day.
We arrive at the docks in the early morning.
Meanwhile, Capt. Glenn leads us to where the fish are hiding.
Once we are ready to start trolling, the mates set out the mullet dredges.
This is one of the mean electric downriggers that holds the dredges.
Once the dredge is in the water, it simulates a school of swimming mullet. This draws sailfish in close to the boat.
Throughout the day, anglers play the ballyhoo by dropping the bait back, and then reeling it back in over and over again. This simulates a fish that has broken away from its school.
You can’t have a sailfishing gallery without a sailfish! I was in charge of videoing the releases, so I didn’t have my photo camera when the fish were around. I grabbed a couple of stock images for you to visualize what we were seeing on the water.
Birds can become pesky, and sometimes they get hooked after diving on your bait.
When this happens, the mate quickly dehooks the bird and lets it fly free.
Our reel of choice is the Daiwa Saltiga.
The mates keep us stocked with lots of bait throughout the tournament.
Sailfish have a unique air bladder, which makes a distinct mark on the bottom machine. You can see a sailfish being marked here on the left of the screen.
When we hook a sail, the captain and angler work together to get it to the boat as quickly as possible. To count as a release, you have to get the knot that ties the leader to double its line through the first eye of the rod, or the mate needs to grab the leader.
Sail close to the boat.
It was an ideal day for cruising …
No matter how high the quality of the boat, things can go wrong when you’re offshore. During the tournament, we had the misfortune of breaking a trim tab. But no worries, because Jason jumped right in and patched it up!
During a tournament, boats often fish side by side.
Sometimes this can be troublesome, because boats can run over your line and break off your fish! Luckily, we are not in danger of that here.
Dolphin find their way to the Treasure Coast during the winter months as well.
We almost have him.
At the end of the day, we head back to the marina.
At the dock, boats fly flags that represent their releases for the day. Here, some fishermen mingle while the mates are away busily rigging bait for the next day.
Another shot of us heading back to the marina.
The tournament directors put on a good event. I will definitely be heading back.

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