Michael Wood holds the 51.5-pound kingfish he caught using a live goggle-eye off Jupiter last yearto win heaviest fish in both the Sail Inn KDW tournament and the Lantana Fishing Derby. Both events were held on May 15.
By Willie Howard
With the warming water and generally calmer seas of spring and summer come a series of ocean fishing tournaments targeting kingfish, dolphin and wahoo.
Most of the tournaments benefit charitable causes and give friends and family members a chance to fish together in hopes of catching a big one — and, if they’re lucky, taking home a check.
To be sure, there are some big fish in the Atlantic waters off South Florida.
The Bootleggers fishing team rocked last year’s tournament scene and won $10,000 with an 86-pound wahoo caught May 21 in the Downtown Showdown KDW tournament based in West Palm Beach.
This year’s KDW tournament season kicks off April 15 with the Boynton Beach Firefighters Fishing Tournament and Firehouse Chili Cookoff based at Harvey E. Oyer Jr. Park, followed by the Lantana Fishing Derby on April 29.
Fishing teams usually start planning their KDW season in the late winter or early spring. Most tournaments offer discounts for early entry.
Here’s a list of ocean fishing tournaments coming up in Palm Beach and northern Broward counties:
April 15: Boynton Beach Firefighters Fishing Tournament and Firehouse Chili Cookoff based at Harvey E. Oyer Jr. Park, Boynton Beach. Captain’s meeting 5 p.m. April 13 at Bru’s Room Sports Grill near the Boynton Beach Mall. Entry fee $250 per boat by April 8 or $300 thereafter. Call 252-0769 or www.boyntonbeachfirefighters.com.
April 22: St. Clare Catholic School family fishing tournament for kingfish, dolphin, wahoo and snapper based at Sailfish Marina in Palm Beach Shores. Captain’s meeting 6 p.m. April 21 at Sailfish Marina. Entry fee $200 per boat by April 3 or $275 thereafter. Call 622-7171 or www.stclareschool.com.
April 29: Lantana Fishing Derby. Weigh-in at the Old Key Lime House restaurant on Ocean Avenue, Lantana. Captain’s party 6 p.m. April 27 at the Lantana Recreation Center, 418 S. Dixie Highway. Awards party April 30 at the recreation center. Entry fee $200 per boat by April 15 or $250 thereafter. Call 585-8664 or www.Lantanafishingderby.com.
May 6: Sail Inn KDW tournament based at Boynton Harbor Marina. Captain’s meeting 5 p.m. May 4 at Sail Inn Tavern, 657 George Bush Blvd., Delray Beach. Entry fee $200 per boat by April 15 or $250 thereafter. Call 276-5147 or www.sailinnkdw.com.
May 6: Anglers for Autism tournament featuring inshore and offshore divisions. Entry fee for offshore KDW event $400 per boat. Inshore catch-photo-release tournament for snook, redfish, sea trout and jack crevalle. Inshore entry $250. Weigh stations at Square Grouper in Jupiter and Sailfish Marina in Palm Beach Shores. Details: www.anglers4autism.com.
May 13-14: Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo. Kickoff party and captain’s meeting 5 p.m. May 11 at Alsdorf Park Boat Ramp in Pompano Beach. Fishing out of Hillsboro Inlet. Weigh-ins at Alsdorf Park. Awards party May 15. Early entry fee $400 per boat by May 6, $500 thereafter. Call 954-942-4513 or www.pompanofishingrodeo.com.
May 13: Grand Slam KDW. Weigh-in stations at Square Grouper in Jupiter and Sailfish Marina in Palm Beach Shores. Captain’s meeting May 12 at Riverwalk Events Plaza in Jupiter. Details: www.fishgrandslamkdw.com.
May 20: Downtown Showdown KDW tournament and Seafood Festival based at the city docks on Flagler Drive in downtown West Palm Beach. Captain’s meeting 6 p.m. May 18. Entry fee $350 per boat. Details: www.downtownshowdownkdw.com.
June 3: KDW Classic tournament presented by the West Palm Beach Fishing Club and based at Riviera Beach Municipal Marina. Captain’s meeting 6 p.m. June 2 at Riviera Beach Marina. Entry fee $200 per boat for fishing club members or $225 for nonmembers by May 19. All entries $300 per boat after May 19. Call 832-6780 or www.kdwclassic.com.
June 24: Lake Worth Fishing Tournament for kingfish, dolphin, wahoo and snapper. Weigh-in at Palm Beach Yacht Center in Hypoluxo. Captain’s meeting 6 p.m. June 23 at Tuppen’s Marine & Tackle in Lake Worth. Awards barbecue June 25 at Dave’s Last Resort in Lake Worth. Early entry $175. Regular entry $250. Details: www.Lakeworthfishingtournament.com.
July 8: Big Dog, Fat Cat KDW Shootout based at Sailfish Marina in Palm Beach Shores. Pre-tournament party 7 p.m. June 27 at Sailfish Marina. Captain’s meeting July 7 at Sailfish Marina. Entry fee: $150 per boat through June 25, $200 per boat through July 2 and $250 thereafter. Details: www.bigdogfatcat.org.
Aug. 12: Mark Gerretson Memorial Fishing Tournament in Delray Beach. Captain’s meeting 6 p.m. Aug. 10 at Hurricane Bar & Lounge, 640 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Entry fee $200 per boat. Call 927-8092 or www.mgmft.net.
Goliath grouper debate
Goliath grouper have been the subject of much debate in recent years.
Overfishing reduced their numbers substantially in the 1980s. The harvest and possession of goliath grouper have been prohibited in state and federal waters off Florida since 1990.
After reports of high abundance in Florida waters in recent years, including many encounters by divers, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is taking public comments on management options for the large grouper.
Options include the possibility of limited harvest, which could be restricted by seasons and geographical areas as well as by size and bag limits, and possibly sales of harvest tags such as those used for tarpon.
These giants of the grouper family live as long as 40 years, possibly longer, and reach 8 feet in length and 800 pounds, according to the FWC.
FWC commissioners are not expected to discuss management options for goliath grouper until September, possibly later.
Meanwhile, the public can comment on management options by going to www.myfwc.com/saltwatercomments.
To read a presentation on goliath grouper by the FWC staff, go to www.myfwc.com/commission. Select commission meetings, then click on the meeting of Feb. 8-9, 2017.
Shark numbers low
Blacktip and spinner sharks that typically move through the shallow water along Palm Beach County beaches during the late winter were relatively scarce during February and early March.
So says Florida Atlantic University researcher Stephen Kajiura, a biology professor who tags the sharks and often finds thousands of them moving in shallow water during aerial surveys of the South Florida coastline.
“The numbers this year are a small fraction of what they should be, and I think it can be attributed to the warm water,” Kajiura said.
“This year may be an indication of what is to come as global water temps continue to rise. We may no longer have the seasonal influx of blacktips each winter, or they will be in much smaller numbers.”
April 1: Basic boating safety class offered by Coast Guard Auxiliary, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the headquarters building at Spanish River Park, 3939 N. Ocean Blvd., Boca Raton. Fee $35 for adults, $20 ages 12 to 19. Register at the door. Bring lunch. Call 391-3600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 8: West Palm Beach Fishing Club’s annual yard sale featuring fishing rods, reels, lures, boating and diving gear and clothing, 7 a.m. until noon at the fishing club, 201 Fifth St., West Palm Beach. (Tax-deductible donations accepted before the sale to benefit the Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation.) Call 832-6780.
April 22: Boating safety class offered by Coast Guard Auxiliary, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the classroom building next to the boat ramps, Harvey E. Oyer Jr. Park, 2010 N. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach. Fee $20. For ages 14-18, $10. Family rate for three or more people: $50. Younger than 14 free with a paid adult. Register at the door. Call 704-7440.
April 26: Capt. George Gozdz discusses fishing for cobia and permit on wrecks and reefs at meeting of West Palm Beach Fishing Club, 7 p.m., 201 Fifth St., West Palm Beach. Free. Call 832-6780 or www.westpalmbeachfishingclub.org.
Tip of the month
Anglers hoping to set a world fishing record, take note.
The International Game Fish Association’s board of trustees recently approved changes to the IGFA’s angling rules and world record requirements.
Two key changes took effect April 1.
First, a bystander can touch or briefly hold an angler to prevent him or her from falling. But the catch is disqualified if someone holds or touches the angler “in a manner that assists them in fighting the fish or takes pressure off the angler.”
The second change pertains to backing attached to the fishing line. The old (and often-contested) rule stated the catch would be classified under the heaviest line strength on the reel.
The new line and backing rule states that the catch will be classified under the breaking strength of “the first 16.5 feet (5 meters) of line directly preceding the double line, leader or hook.”
For details, go to www.igfa.org. (Click on Fish and pull down to International Angling Rules).
Willie Howard is a freelance writer and a licensed boat captain. Reach him at email@example.com.