South Florida: Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series

The ladies make their debut in the Quest for the Crest Sailfish Series with the support of their industry leading sponsors Pelagic, Viking Yachts and Bucked Up Energy along with Marlin

Marlin Lady Angler Team
Check out the recap of their adventure as they competed in this three-tournament series. Marlin

“Take a Hero Fishing Day” Mini Tournament, January 12, 2023

The series kicked off in January 2023 with Operation Sailfish’s signature Take a Hero Fishing Day, an exciting and heartwarming mini tournament on the pre-fish day. The weather was perfect, and the team along with two female veterans as guests, Sandra Drake and Maddy Mollach, were eager to start the day. 

The ladies had a slow bite and, regardless of the hard work everyone put in, they returned to the dock without any flags flying. Despite this setback, they didn’t lose heart and instead transformed their 61-foot Viking Surf Bum from a sport-fishing battlewagon to Lady Liberty’s vessel. Their efforts paid off when they won the award for Most Patriotic Boat. The event was a perfect start to the series, with a mini tournament and tribute to the veterans adding to the excitement of the main competition. “It was an honor to share a day on the water with these brave heroes, and a humbling reminder of their selflessness and courage in service to our country,” says teammate Lacey Hagler.

A sport-fishing team standing in the back of a sport-fishing boat.
The team was honored to fish with two incredible female veterans and hope to see more women at next year’s event. Courtesy Brittney Baldwin

Leg One – Operation Sailfish, January 13-14, 2023

Day One of fishing started with the team meeting at Sailfish Marina in the early-morning hours to load up and head out. Although it was the first time most of the anglers had fished together, they had previously worked out who would be handling which line and quickly settled into their positions. Kelly Young and Dusty Adinolfe would work the short, while Shelby Callison and Jordan White manned the left mid and long. Hagler and Maddy Hazlett held it down on the right mid and long, while Joy Kairalla finessed the flat line.

Top down view of the Lady Angler fishing team in the cockpit of a sport-fishing boat.
Marlin’s Ladies Team hopes to inspire more ladies teams to get out and compete on the water. Courtesy Brittney Baldwin

At 7:58, YouTube personality and passionate angler Young was at the helm, verifying the GoPros in anticipation of getting a release that day. The kites were out and flying beautifully, with the help of some helium. At 8 a.m., team captain Brittney Baldwin shouted, “Lines in, ladies,” signaling the start of the first day of fishing. 

Three women fishing.
The team was protected from the elements and kept their cool in their custom Pelagic uniforms. Courtesy Brittney Baldwin

Unfortunately, Day One was long with a slow bite, and the same was true for Day Two for the team. Even with the lack of success, the team remained committed and eager to do better in the second leg—the Sailfish Challenge. The experience also provided an opportunity for the team to bond and get to know each other better as anglers, setting the stage for future success. 

Leg Two – Sailfish Challenge, February 24-25, 2023

ladies fishing team.
“It’s important for women to realize you just need the proper tackle, proper technique and proper gear, and you can land any fish out there.” —Angler Joy Kairalla Courtesy Dejan Jovanovic

The team kicked off the Sailfish Challenge in Pompano Beach, fishing on the 58-foot Viking D&D out of Hillsboro Inlet. The ladies were pumped and ready for redemption. Boat owner Danny Messa and Capt. Jeremy Hudson decided to head south, which led to an early-morning bite for angler Amber Marchant, setting the team’s spirits high early on.

A billfish jumps out of the water near the transom of a sport-fishing boat.
The ladies fished the 61-foot Viking Surf Bum in legs one and three and aboard the 58-foot Viking D&D in leg two. Courtesy Dejan Jovanovic

Despite moving and resetting lines throughout the day, the team’s energy never waned. Day Two brought even better luck, with Hazlett landing her first sailfish early on, and Marchant landing her second for the series shortly after. Later on, Jordan White caught two sailfish during the afternoon bite. While the number of bites may have been lacking, the team’s spirits remained high and infectious, with the ladies cheering each other on and keeping the good vibes going.

Two women fishing.
The ladies had each other’s backs and constantly cheered each other on. Courtesy Dejan Jovanovic

The calm seas provided the perfect backdrop for the team to showcase their passion for the sport, bond as a team, and represent lady anglers. With their contagious energy and enthusiasm, it was evident that their focus was not solely on winning, but also on supporting one another and creating lasting memories. Overall, the second leg of the Quest was a success, highlighting the team’s dedication to the sport and their unwavering support for each other.

A sport-fishing team standing on a boat deck.
What is it like to fish with a group of strong-willed, competitive, fish-minded female anglers? Empowering, educational and incredibly fun! Courtesy Dejan Jovanovic

Leg Three – Final Sail, April 14-15, 2023

The team assembled in Miami Beach for the last leg of the Quest for the Crest Sailfish series, the Final Sail. Capt. Evan Pickrell and his mates had Surf Bum in position, ready and waiting for the 8 a.m. start. “Lines in,” announced boat owner and angler Adinolfe. Goggle-eyes went flying into the water, and the anglers worked to get their lines set, smiling while they awaited the bite.

Two women fishing.
“There’s no place like the cockpit, standing on go.” —Teammate Shelby Callison Courtesy Brittney Baldwin

After seeing a free-jumper off in the distance, Pickrell called for the team to bring their lines in quickly because they were about to make a short run to where the sailfish were just spotted. 

That key move resulted in Callison hooking a sailfish and making pretty work of a quick release with mate Corey Shea. 

Day Two brought more luck in the meat fish categories with Marchant landing a decent kingfish. Shortly after, the team heard a call from the bow: “I’m on!” Kairalla had hooked a cobia at the bow and fought the fish while making her way to the back of the boat.

Angler throwing a dredge in the water.
The ladies fished from bow to stern, looking to get tight. Courtesy Brittney Baldwin

White was next to get bit, battling a large blackfin tuna, followed by Kairalla with a tiny but mighty yellowfin tuna and her first sailfish for the series.

Three women pose and hold up fish that they've caught.
White, Kairalla and Marchant got in the meat fish in Miami. Courtesy Brittney Baldwin

Overall, the Final Sail was a success, highlighting the team’s dedication to the sport and their unwavering support for female anglers. With the team’s passionate energy and enthusiasm, it was evident that their focus was not solely on winning but also on supporting one another and hoping to encourage more all-female angler teams to participate in competitive offshore tournaments.

A ladies fishing team standing on a sport-fishing boat tower.
The Marlin Ladies Team is on a mission to create more representation of female teams in the sport and encourage more women to get involved in competitive fishing. Courtesy Brittney Baldwin

Check back for the latest on Marlin’s Ladies Team, or sign up for Marlin’s e-newsletter or join our email list so you never miss a bite!

More Travel