ABOVE: Capt. Carl Torresson of the Slob City fishing team holds aloft the 47.2-pound kingfish that won biggest fish honors and $14,200 in the Boynton Beach event. Angler Chris Bradshaw of Kings Park, N.Y. (second from left) caught the big kingfish on live bait near St. Lucie Inlet. Photo provided
BELOW: Sherri Beswick of Lake Worth won top lady angler in the April 6 Boynton Beach Firefighters Fishing Tournament with this 35.4-pound kingfish caught near The Breakers hotel while fishing on Spiced Rum III with Capt. Billy Wummer (holding fish) and teammates Mike Lomastro (second from left) and Christian Long. Willie Howard/The Coastal Star
By Willie Howard
Fishing tournament season officially begins in May with the arrival of longer days, warmer weather and schools of bait fish.
One of the first kingfish-dolphin-wahoo tournaments of the season — the 25th annual Lantana Fishing Derby — is set for May 4, with the weigh-in at the Old Key Lime House docks that afternoon. All boats must be at the docks by 3:30 p.m. to weigh fish. (Details at Lantanafishingderby.com.)
The following weekend, May 11, tournament anglers will target dolphin, kingfish, wahoo, blackfin tuna and cobia in the Saltwater Shootout, based in Pompano Beach. (Details at saltwatercircuit.com.)
Also scheduled for May 11: the 24th annual Grand Slam KDW tournament based in Jupiter. Teams will weigh their fish at Sailfish Marina in Palm Beach Shores and the Square Grouper Tiki Bar in Jupiter. (Details at fishgrandslamkdw.com.)
The Sail Inn KDW Charity Fishing Tournament, organized by the Sail Inn Tavern in Delray Beach, is set for June 1, with the weigh-in scheduled for 1 to 3:30 p.m. at Palm Beach Yacht Center in Hypoluxo. (For more details, call 703-1907.)
Also set for June 1: The Palm Beach County KDW Classic, organized by the West Palm Beach Fishing Club, which often attracts well over 200 boats.
The KDW Classic weigh-in is scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. at Riviera Beach Municipal Marina. (Details at kdwclassic.com.)
Another large summer tournament, the Big Dog Fat Cat KDW Shootout, is set for July 13 and based at Sailfish Marina in Palm Beach Shores. The weigh-in is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. at Sailfish Marina. (Details at bigdogfatcat.org.)
For those who prefer a longer, more flexible, less expensive tournament, there’s the Lake Worth Lagoon Fishing Challenge.
The fourth annual Fishing Challenge begins May 24 and runs through July 4. There’s no entry fee, and participating anglers can win prizes such as Mang T-shirts, Engel coolers and Penn rod-and-reel combinations.
Open to anglers ages 5 and older, the Fishing Challenge is a citizen science tournament that gives biologists information on the size, types and whereabouts of fish in the county’s largest estuary, which stretches 20 miles from North Palm Beach to Ocean Ridge.
During last year’s Fishing Challenge, 49 anglers caught 57 species of fish. Many were caught around areas that have been restored to improve habitat, such as the Snook Islands Natural Area and the man-made mangrove islands off Lake Worth’s Bryant Park (where three redfish and a permit were caught last year).
Anglers catch, photograph and submit their catches via cellphone using the iAngler Tournament app. Fish can be kept, if they’re in season and of legal size, or released.
Find details on the Lake Worth Lagoon Fishing Challenge at www.lwli.org or call 233-2448.
Another long-running tournament is CCA/Florida’s STAR tournament, which runs from May 25 to Labor Day.
Registered anglers who catch a STAR-tagged redfish could win a new boat or pickup truck.
CCA/Florida also will release 20 tagged dolphin (mahi mahi). The first registered angler to report catching a tagged dolphin wins $10,000.
Catches can be reported using the CCA/Florida STAR tournament smartphone app.
The STAR entry fee is $40 for CCA members ($75 including a one-year CCA membership).
For details, go to ccaflstar.com or call 352-665-4868.
Wahoo anyone? Anglers who enjoy fishing for the striped ocean speedsters can enter one or more of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club’s Full Moon Wahoo tournaments.
These are relaxed, low-entry-fee tournaments held on the Saturdays closest to the full moons of June, July and August.
This year’s dates are June 15, July 20 and Aug. 17. The entry fee is $60 per tournament or $150 for all three.
At least one member of the fishing team must be a West Palm Beach Fishing Club member in good standing to register. For details, call 832-6780 or visit westpalmbeachfishingclub.org.
Ed Ducar of Lakeland holds a blackfin tuna he caught on a live pilchard near Boynton Inlet in May 2017. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is holding workshops to discuss management options for largely unregulated blackfins. Willie Howard/The Coastal Star
FWC seeks public input on blackfin tuna
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission will gather public input on the management of blackfin tuna.
Blackfin tuna are regulated in state waters only by the state’s default recreational bag limit of 100 pounds.
There are no regulations on blackfin tuna in federal waters (more than 3 miles off Florida’s east coast).
A meeting to discuss management options for blackfin tuna is set for 6 p.m. May 6 at Keiser University, Room 402-B, 1500 NW 49th St., Fort Lauderdale.
To view the blackfin tuna presentation online and submit comments to the FWC, visit myfwc.com/SaltwaterComments.
May 1: Grouper fishing season opens and remains open through Dec. 31 in state waters of the Atlantic. Minimum sizes: 20 inches for red grouper, 24 inches for black and gag grouper. Three-fish aggregate daily grouper bag limit can include only one black and one gag grouper. For details, go to myfwc.com and look under saltwater fishing regulations.
May 4: 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 ($5 for youths ages 12-19). Register at the door. Bring lunch. Call 391-3600.
May 7: Boynton Beach Fishing Club meets, 7 p.m. in the clubhouse by the boat ramps, Harvey E. Oyer Jr. Park, 2010 N. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach. bifc.org.
May 18: “Suddenly in Command” three-hour boating safety course offered by Coast Guard Auxiliary, 9 a.m. in the classroom building next to the boat ramps, Harvey E. Oyer Jr. Park, 2010 N. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach. Free. 331-2429.
May 25: Basic 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. Register at the door. 331-2429.
Tip of the month
Planning to take your boat to the Bahamas this summer?
Consider cruising over in a group boating “fling” led by the Bahamas Tourist Office. This year’s fling schedule begins June 12-16 with a trip to Grand Bahama Island, followed by trips to Bimini June 19-23 and June 26-30. An extended fling to the Exuma islands is set for July 10-21.
Trips leave from Bahia Mar Yachting Center in Fort Lauderdale. The registration fee is $75. Go to Bahamas.com or call 954-236-9212.
Willie Howard is a freelance writer and licensed boat captain. Reach him at email@example.com.