Celebrating a full decade as the opening leg of the Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series, Operation Sailfish broke several tournament records this year, with 57 boats fishing for a cash purse of $555,125.
Watch: A belly-strip teaser is a great way to raise marlin and sailfish. Learn to rig one here. Learn to rig a belly strip teaser.
The event, hosted by Sailfish Marina Resort in Palm Beach Shores, Florida, coincided with a hot sailfish bite; the fleet tallied 175 sails on Day One alone. Teams on Native Son and Jolene traded shots at first place throughout the day, eventually releasing 10 each, but with Native Son taking the lead on time as well as the daily cash prizes. Jolene was runner-up after the first day of fishing, but with a change in weather conditions on Day Two, the fleet would have to scramble to find the fish.
With only 70 sailfish releases for the entire fleet on Day Two, and just two for Jolene, it would end as an improbable victory for the team in their first tournament win in the Quest for the Crest series—a total of 12 in two days was enough, earning them a total of $191,980, as well as the prestigious champion’s gold dog tags.
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Native Son could not find the fish on Day Two but still hung on to third place overall. Their 10 releases were enough for a payout of $114,625. The team on Fish Tales stayed in the mix throughout the event, releasing nine sailfish on Day One and three more on Day Two, for a total of 12 releases for the weekend. Jolene had them on time, but Fish Tales still finished in second place overall, as well as sweeping the small-boat category in their 37-foot SeaVee.