The Coastal Star

On the Water: 57.1-pound wahoo sets all-time record for LW tournament

Brett Lang and Doug Konz hold the 57.1-pound wahoo they caught June 27 while trolling in 150 feet north of Boynton Inlet. Their wahoo not only won largest fish in this year’s Lake Worth Fishing Tournament, but also set a record for the heaviest fish in the eight-year history of the event. Photo courtesy of Brett Lan

By Willie Howard

Brett Lang and his fishing team on Crew’s Nest weren’t expecting anything special as they headed out Boynton Inlet on June 27 to begin their day of fishing in the Lake Worth Fishing Tournament.
    But just after 7 a.m., about half an hour after “lines in,” the split-tailed mullet they were trolling below the surface in 150 feet of water was slammed by a powerful fish.
    Crew’s Nest team member Carolyn Seal kept the boat moving forward while Lang fought the fish. When the trolling weight hit the rod tip, team member Doug Konz took over, pulling in the shock leader hand over hand until the fish was close enough for Lang to gaff.
    The result: A 57.1-pound wahoo that won $2,000 as the largest overall fish in the 54-boat Lake Worth tournament and set a record as the heaviest fish in the eight-year history of the event.
    The Crew’s Nest wahoo beat George McNally’s previous all-time record for the Lake Worth tournament: a 55-pound ’hoo caught aboard Right Hook in 2013.
    “It was nice to get it as the first fish of the day,” said Lang, general manager of Smyth Air Conditioning in Lake Worth.

Five-O Fishing Team
wins Big Dog, Fat Cat event
    The Five-O Fishing Team won biggest overall fish in the July 11 Big Dog & Fat Cat KDW Shootout with a 41.5-pound kingfish.
    Led by Mike O’Connor of West Palm Beach, the Five-O team ran north to the waters off Stuart to catch the chunky kingfish that put them ahead of 192 other boats and won $5,000 in cash and a Raymarine product valued at $5,000 in the tournament, based at Sailfish Marina on Singer Island.
    Team member Bob Piantoni of Palm City fought the winning kingfish, which hit a live blue runner on a flat (unweighted) line in 75 feet of water around 8 a.m.
    “We just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” O’Connor said, noting that his team decided to fish north of Jupiter after hearing reports of sharks in the waters off Palm Beach County.

Bahamian government proposes permit, guide requirements for flats fishing
    Shallow water anglers and bonefish lodges are questioning draft regulations by the Bahamian government that would require visitors to buy a $20-a-day permit and hire a guide to fish by boat for bonefish and other shallow-water fish.
    The permit and guide requirements would apply to non-Bahamians who want to fish the “flats,” defined as any water less than 6 feet deep.
    According to the proposed regulations, boat owners who are not Bahamian would have to employ at least one Bahamas-certified fishing guide to fish the flats and would have to hire one guide for every two anglers fishing the flats by boat.
    The West Palm Beach Fishing Club’s response to Bahamian officials said, in part, that the proposed regulations are “far too vague, administratively cumbersome and if implemented would result in unintended consequences that would have negative impacts on tourism, fishing lodges, marinas and local guides.”
    The response by The Delphi Club, a bonefish lodge in the Abacos, included this: “One fears people are losing sight of why people come on vacation to the Bahamas, which is mainly to chill out. And we in the Bahamas would do well to remember that there are plenty of other places to do that.”
    Comments on the proposed flats fishing regulations can be sent by email to: Fisheries@bahamas.gov.bs or Tourism@bahamas.com.

FWC proposes
more restrictive
barracuda regulations
    State fisheries regulators are proposing slot-size and bag limits for great barracuda caught in the waters off South Florida.
    If approved by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission at its early September meeting, the barracuda rules would apply in state and federal waters off Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Collier counties.
    The proposed barracuda rules include:
    • A slot-size limit of 15 to 36 inches for barracuda taken by commercial or recreational anglers. (The slot means barracuda would have to be at least 15 inches long but not more than 36 inches to be legal to keep.)
    • A two-fish daily bag limit for recreational anglers.
    • A daily commercial trip limit of 20 fish per boat.
    The FWC says the proposed rules address concerns about declining numbers of barracuda expressed by South Florida divers and anglers.

Minimum size increases for triggerfish
    Gray triggerfish must be 14 inches to the fork of the tail to be legal based on a 2-inch increase in the minimum size that took effect July 9.
    The FWC increased the minimum size for triggerfish taken in state waters to match new federal regulations that apply more than three miles offshore on Florida’s east coast.

Coming events
    Aug. 6: Regular spiny lobster season opens and remains open through March 31. A lobster’s head section must measure at least 3 inches to be legal to keep. No egg-bearing lobster may be taken. A saltwater fishing license and lobster permit are required (unless exempt). Details: www.myfwc.com/lobster.
    Aug. 8: 21st annual Mark Gerretson Memorial Fishing Tournament based at Deck 84 restaurant, 840 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Captain’s meeting 6 p.m. Aug. 6 at Deck 84. Weigh-in the afternoon of Aug. 8 at Deck 84. Entry fee $200. Benefits children’s causes in Delray Beach and Boynton Beach. Call 251-1945 or visit www.mgmft.net.
    Aug. 11-15: 73rd annual Goode Water Ski National Championships at Okeeheelee Park, Forest Hill Boulevard west of Jog Road, Greenacres. Slalom and trick events begin at 8 a.m. daily; jumping begins at 9 a.m. Free parking and admission. Details: www.usawaterski.org.
Aug. 15: Palm Beach County Lionfish Derby based at Sailfish Marina on Singer Island. Captain’s meeting and final registration Aug. 14 at the marina. Entry fee $120 for four-diver team. Cash prizes. Details: (305) 852-0030 or www.reef.org/lionfish/derbies.
    Aug. 22: Basic boating safety class taught by Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 54, 8 a.m., Coast Guard building (next to boat ramps), Harvey E. Oyer Jr. Park, Boynton Beach. Fee: $40. Call Ron Cuneo, 389-1850.
    Sept. 1: Snook season opens and remains open through Dec. 14. A Florida saltwater fishing license and a snook permit are required (unless exempt). Daily bag limit: one snook. To be legal to keep, snook must measure between 28 and 32 inches in total length. Different rules apply to snook taken on the state’s west coast and the Florida Keys. Details: www.myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational.
    Sept. 19: X Generation 440 Challenge fishing tournament for kingfish, dolphin and wahoo. Includes $500 prize for heaviest cobia, mutton or yellowtail snapper and bonito or blackfin tuna. Based at Palm Beach Yacht Center in Hypoluxo. Captain’s meeting 5-8 p.m. Sept. 18. Details: 502-7022 or www.xgeneration440.com.

Tip of the month
    Walk the beach early for snook. When small bait fish (usually pilchards) are schooling in the surf, it’s a good time to fish early for snook.
    Start fishing around 5:30 a.m. and fish until just after sunrise using a medium-action spinning rod fitted with braided line (20-pound braid is a good bet) and 20- to 30-pound leader. (I prefer fluorocarbon leader, but monofilament will do.) Match the hatch by tying on a lure about the size of the bait fish.
    Cast roughly parallel to the shoreline, and make a few casts out deeper to find the snook.
    Try soft-plastic baits such as a D.O.A. CAL Jerk Bait (colors I like for snook on the beach include night glow, silver glitter and glow/holo flake) on an eighth- or quarter-ounce jig head. Work soft plastics slowly so they move along the bottom, rise up and drop back down. (This requires calm surf conditions typical of summer months.)
Alternative lures include the MirrOlure Catch 2000 and MirrOdine suspending lures, which imitate small bait fish.
    Remember, all snook must be released through Aug. 31. (The fall snook season opens Sept. 1 and continues through Dec. 14.) Anglers with saltwater licenses and snook permits (required unless exempt) can keep the bag limit of one snook per day (if they’re between 28 and 32 inches in total length) after the season opens. All other snook must be released.
    Bring pliers to remove hooks from snook, and consider flattening hook barbs to facilitate the release of snook. If you’re planning to keep a snook after the season opens, bring a measuring tape. Don’t forget your camera or cellphone (in a plastic bag to keep it dry).

Willie Howard is a freelance writer and licensed boat caption. Reach him at tiowillie@bellsouth.net.

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