Canyon Lady, a 65-foot Ricky Scarborough based in Palm Beach, Florida, released six sailfish to earn the first-place trophy in the 68th annual Stuart Light Tackle Sailfish Tournament, held December 9-11, 2021. The boat’s captain and owner, Jamie Diller, also won the Capt. AA Whiticar Memorial Award as the top-scoring captain—his name, along with the boat’s, will be engraved on a plaque mounted to a framed print by Curt Whiticar as the tournament’s Legacy Award.
Vintage, a 43-foot Torres run by tournament veteran Capt. Hans Kraaz, was the second-place boat. Vintage released five sailfish on the first day and finished with six on the scorecard; Canyon Lady won on time of release. Small Change, a 64-foot Tribute with Capt. Wink Doerzbacher on the bridge, earned third-place honors with four releases. A total of 23 sailfish were caught by the tournament fleet.
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In the newly created semipro division, Princess Lily won with four sailfish; Capt. Mike Hunter runs the 66-foot Viking. Dawn Samuels was named the top lady angler fishing on Princess Lily, while Cole Bates on Vintage took home the Top Junior Angler trophy in the billfish division.
The Stuart Light Tackle tournament featured two days of fishing this year, and boats were allowed to leave from Fort Pierce, St. Lucie, Jupiter and Lake Worth Inlets. Canyon Lady was the only competitor who chose to make the run north from Palm Beach, but the tactic proved successful. The weather on the first day of fishing was beautiful, with flat-calm seas instead of the preferred strong northerly winds that typically trigger a good sailfish bite. Only trolled dead baits are allowed, with a maximum of two teasers and two dredges on each boat. The event is a 20-pound-class contest with only six lines permitted.
Proceeds from the tournament will be allocated to two recipients: Project Lift of Palm City, Florida, and the family of Capt. Patrick Price, who recently lost his battle with COVID-19. Project Lift is a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk youths by providing counseling, career training, mentorship and volunteer opportunities. Price owned Daymaker Charters and had been an adviser to the Stuart Sailfish Club Foundation and a popular member of the local angling community.
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“The Stuart Light Tackle tournament has a great pedigree, and this year we doubled participation,” says tournament director Robert “Fly” Navarro. “Despite the unusual weather, the boats caught fish, and we also raised money for two very worthwhile causes. So, in all, it was a really great way to start this year’s sailfish season.”
This article originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of Marlin.