Jason Bagwell and Jason Maret hold the 36.4-pound kingfish caught by Bagwell on Craigg Maret’s boat
Get Sum that won top overall boat and heaviest kingfish honors in the 19th annual Mark Gerretson
Memorial Fishing Tournament out of Boynton Beach Inlet in August 2013.
File photo/The Coastal Star
By Willie Howard
The warming weather of spring usually improves fishing for three popular ocean fish off the coast of South Florida: kingfish, dolphin and wahoo.
With the fish come a flurry of ocean fishing tournaments along the coast of Palm Beach County — known as “KDW” tournaments because competing anglers target kingfish, dolphin and wahoo. Some tournament organizers add snapper, cobia or other ocean fish to their events.
The KDW tournament season usually begins in April and continues well into the heart of the hurricane season in September.
Most of the spring and summer KDW tournaments benefit charitable causes such as scholarship funds, animal rescue operations, services for children or programs that teach fishing skills to kids.
Teams of anglers who catch the largest fish, or combined weight of fish, win cash prizes in KDW tournaments.
Most tournaments offer discounts for early registration, so it pays to dust off your calendar and plan ahead for the spring and summer fishing tournaments.
Here is a partial list of upcoming fishing tournaments in Palm Beach County. (Details of other tournaments will be released in the weeks ahead. Check area tackle shops for tournament brochures.)
APRIL 12: Jupiter vs. Dwyer Fishing Tournament. Open to everyone. Benefits schools’ baseball programs. Weigh-in at Burt Reynolds Waterway Pavilion, Jupiter. Captain’s meeting 6 p.m. April 10 at Corners Ocean Bar & Grill, 71 E. Indiantown Road, Jupiter. Details: 339-1282.
APRIL 19: Boynton Beach Firefighters Fishing Tournament & Firehouse Chili Cookoff. Based at Harvey E. Oyer Park, 2010 N. Federal Highway. Captain’s meeting 7 p.m. April 17 at Bru’s Room Sports Grill, 1333 N. Congress Ave. Details: www.boyntonbeachfirefighters.com.
APRIL 26: The 34th Annual Offshore Challenge presented by the West Palm Beach Kiwanis Club and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County. Based at Sailfish Marina, 98 Lake Drive, Palm Beach Shores. Captain’s meeting 6 p.m. April 25 at the Buccaneer, 142 Lake Drive, Palm Beach Shores. Details: 683-3287 or www.pboffshorechallenge.com.
MAY 3: 20th Annual Lantana Fishing Derby. Captain’s meeting 5:30 p.m. May 1 at Benny’s Lantana Grill, 224 N. 3rd St., Lantana. (Free kids tournament under Lantana Bridge, 9 a.m. to noon.) Discount for registration before April 17. Details: 585-8664 or www.lantanafishingderby.com.
MAY 17: Boynton Beach Kiwanis 33rd Annual Fishing Tournament. Based at Palm Beach Yacht Center, 7848 S. Federal Hwy., Hypoluxo. Captain’s meeting 5-7 p.m. May 16 at Palm Beach Yacht Center. Details: 736-0568 or www.boyntonbeachkiwanis.webs.com.
MAY 31: Palm Beach County KDW Classic. Based at Riviera Beach Marina, 200 E. 13th St. Captain’s meeting 6 p.m. May 30 at Bicentennial Park (north side of Riviera Beach Marina). Benefits Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation. Details: 832-6780 or www.kdwclassic.com.
MAY 31: Sail Inn Tavern KDW. Based at Veterans Park, Delray Beach. Captain’s meeting 5 p.m. May 29 at the Sail Inn Tavern, 657 George Bush Blvd., Delray Beach. Details: 276-5147.
MAY 31-JUNE 1: Greater Palm Beach Offshore 440. Based at Lake Park Harbor Marina, 105 Lake Shore Drive. Two-day tournament. Captain’s meeting 4-8 p.m. May 30 at Lake Park Harbor Marina. Details: www.fishska.com or (904) 819-0360.
JUNE 21: 15th Annual Horizons Fishing Tournament organized by Hospice of Palm Beach County Foundation. Based at North Palm Beach Marina. Captain’s meeting June 19. Details: 273-2242 or www.hpbcf.org.
JUNE 28: Sixth Annual Lake Worth Fishing Tournament based at Palm Beach Yacht Center, 7848 S. Federal Highway, Hypoluxo. Captain’s meeting 6 p.m. at Tuppen’s Marine & Tackle, 1006 N. Dixie Hwy., Lake Worth. Awards party June 29 in downtown Lake Worth. Details: www.lakeworthfishingtournament.com. Email: LWFT@earthlink.net
JULY 12: Big Dog & Fat Cat KDW Shootout. Based at Sailfish Marina, 98 Lake Drive, Palm Beach Shores. Captain’s meeting 7 p.m. July 11 at Sailfish Marina. Details: www.bigdogfatcat.org or 315-3722.
AUG. 9: Mark Gerretson 20th Anniversary Fishing Tournament. Based at Veterans Park, Delray Beach. Captain’s meeting 6 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Delray Beach Elks Lodge, 265 NE Fourth Ave. Details: www.mgmft.net or 859-2771.
SEPTEMBER: X-Generation KDW Challenge. Date and location to be announced. Details: 296-7637.
Rare catch: Anglers Michael Sanchez and Mike Ashberry caught and released two rare longbill spearfish Feb. 22 while trolling in 850 feet off Boynton Inlet with Captain Geno Pratt on the Geno IV. Pratt first thought the fish were similar-looking white marlin, also a relatively rare catch in our waters. The full-day charter on Geno IV, based at Boynton Harbor Marina, also produced three wahoo and a dolphin.
Fishing yard sale: The West Palm Beach Fishing Club’s annual marine yard sale is set for 7 a.m. until noon April 12 at the club’s headquarters, Fifth Street at Flagler Drive, downtown West Palm Beach. Used fishing rods and reels, boating and diving gear, clothing, lures, coolers and related gear will be for sale. (Regulars often arrive well before 7 a.m.)
Proceeds benefit the Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation, which supports the club’s annual Kids Fishing Day in August. Donations of used gear are accepted before the sale. Call 832-6780 or go to www.westpalmbeachfishingclub.org.
Fishing TV host to speak to Boynton Beach Fishing Club:
George Poveromo, editor at large for Salt Water Sportsman magazine and host of the television show George Poveromo’s World of Saltwater Fishing, will speak to the Boynton Beach Fishing Club April 22. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Coast Guard Auxiliary building (near the boat ramps) at Harvey E. Oyer Park, 2210 N. Federal Highway.
Tip of the month: Look for spring kingfish to show up in the waters north and south of Boynton Inlet. Sloan’s Curve, north of the Lake Worth pier, has been a kingfish hotspot in years past. Fishing for kings tends to be best in low-light conditions (early morning or dusk). Try fishing in 80 to 120 feet.
Fish with a dead sardine on triple hooks tied to 50-pound monofilament (or fluorocarbon) leader. Or try a variety of live baits such as sardines, greenies, blue runners or goggle-eyes. With live baits, use a No. 4 or No. 5 wire leader with a trailing treble (stinger) hook. Scale down to lighter leader in exceptionally clear water. Use a big bait such as a blue runner for a big tournament kingfish. If you plan to take a kingfish home for dinner, use smaller baits to target smaller kings.
The state places consumption warnings on kingfish for pregnant women and young children because of mercury, especially the larger fish. Minimum size: 24 inches to the fork of the tail. Bag limit: two kingfish.
Willie Howard is a freelance writer and licensed boat captain. Reach him at email@example.com.