West Palm Beach Fishing Club Announces 2016 Award Recipients

Four anglers earn prestigious honors from the 81-year-old club.

releasing sailfish offshore
West Palm Beach Fishing Club member Jacob Lepera releases a sailfish, something he did quite often in 2016. Lepera won the Club's annual award for sailfish releases.Courtesy West Palm Beach Fishing Club

The West Palm Beach Fishing Club has announced the winners of its annual trophies for the 2016 angling year. The awards, some of which date back more than 50 years, recognize outstanding angling achievements.

Club member Jacob Lepera, of Boynton Beach, Florida, won the Tracy M. Schneider Memorial Sailfish Release trophy. Lepera posted 101 sailfish releases on live bait and five releases on dead bait to claim the club’s top sailfish release honor. “All I wanted to do was break 100 releases for the year. I’m so glad the fish cooperated down the stretch,” said Lepera.

Wayne Jenkins, of Wellington, Florida, won the Beinecke Atlantic Blue Marlin Release trophy. The award has been presented annually since 1960. Jenkins released three blue marlin in the Bahamas and one off Jupiter while fishing aboard his boat Reel Captivating with fellow club member Capt. Travis Timilty at the helm. Jenkins also earned the Richard Jeck Memorial Billfish Tagging award. The club's top tagging trophy has only been won on a few select occasions, because a minimum of 20 tagged and released billfish is required to qualify. Jenkins tagged a total of 25 Atlantic sailfish.

Longtime club member Nick Smith, of Stuart, Florida, won the coveted Donald S. Leas III International Angling trophy with a list of billfish catches on the International Game Fish Association-compliant fly tackle that is nothing short of remarkable. Smith was fishing aboard his boat Old Reliable, captained by Chip Shafer. His accomplishments during the 2016 angling year included 135 Pacific sailfish releases off Guatemala, 64 blue marlin releases off Costa Rica and 233 striped marlin releases off Mexico. "It is safe to say that Nick has done something with a fly rod that has never been done before. He has set the bar incredibly high," said club president Tom Twyford, when presenting Smith with his award.

West Palm Beach Fishing Club awards
Jacob Lepera, left, receives the Tracy M. Schneider Memorial Sailfish Release trophy. He released 101 sailfish on live bait and five on dead bait in 2016.Courtesy Leonard Bryant
releasing sailfish offshore
Jacob Lepera successfully releases a sailfish.Courtesy West Palm Beach Fishing Club
West Palm Beach Fishing Club awards
Wayne Jenkins, left, showcases his two awards, the Richard Jeck Memorial Tagging award and the Beinecke Atlantic Blue Marlin Release trophy.Courtesy Leonard Bryant
Old Reliable fishing team
Nick Smith won the Donald S. Leas III International Angling trophy this year. Smith, middle, celebrates a record-setting day with his team aboard Old Reliable.Courtesy West Palm Beach Fishing Club
fly fishing offshore
Nick Smith's 2016 accomplishments include 135 Pacific sailfish releases off Guatemala, 64 blue marlin releases off Costa Rica and 233 striped marlin releases off Mexico in 2016.Courtesy West Palm Beach Fishing Club