Sailfish like it rough. Wind, waves and strong ocean current fire up the South Florida bite. The perfect conditions came together for the 2020 Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament (EKFT) Sailfish Smackdown. Fifteen-knot winds and four-foot seas didn’t discourage 50 die-hard anglers who showed up to Pompano Beach at dawn.
Anglers are scored for the number of sailfish they release, with payout for landing wahoo and king mackerel, too. Tournament director, Joe Hector, who was following the action from a powerboat, picks up the story:
“The insanity started immediately.” At 8:40, John Venarchick threw down the gauntlet when he released a double header. To beat Venarchick’s mark, an angler would have to catch at least three sailfish. But fishing was so good, Hector says the field was not discouraged. “From the assist boat I could see sailfish in every direction.”
Anglers were logging one catch after another. By noon, several anglers had scored two fish, but Venechick was still winning on time. Then Rob Rodriguez released his third sailfish to take the lead.
“It was total chaos,” Hector laughs.
As the competition raced to catch up, Rodriguez dropped the mic by releasing a remarkable fourth sailfish. Following the beach-side after party, where the winners were awarded $20,000 in cash and prizes, Hector reflected on the day, “This is what I dreamed of when I started the EKFT series.”
Each issue, Kayak Angler will feature an event from the Kayak Angler Tournament Network. KATN is a nationwide calendar of the toughest competitions and biggest parties on the kayak fishing trail. Participating tournaments get free Kayak Angler goodies, digital editions and coverage on Kayakanglermag.com.
Featured photo: Roberto Westbrook