Sailfish Smackdown reels in 64 lucky anglers – Sun Sentinel


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The Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament Sailfish Smackdown reeled in anglers from across the nation for the annual event off of North Ocean Park in Pompano Beach. There were 64 anglers who tested their fishing skills in the catch-and-release sailfish tournament. It pays to have fishing skills, but there is always room for Lady Luck to play a pivotal role in determining a champion. Anglers from California, Oregon, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas arrived for the one-day tournament to compete in the ultimate challenge of a kayak fisherman pursuing monster fish. In the end, it was a Delray Beach man who claimed the top prize. Gregory Nolan captured first place by catching and releasing two sailfish to have his name inscribed on the coveted trophy and take home the $5,000 check from RAILBLAZA and Turbo USA. Nolan is an avid participant in EKFT events and was a recent champion in the 2018 Summer Slam Part 1 tournament. Nolan caught his first sailfish at 9: 40 a.m. and was trailing in the contest until he reeled in his second sailfish at 11: 54 a.m. The annual EKFT Sailfish Smackdown took place off North Ocean Park, of Pompano Beach, and attracted 64 kayak anglers from across the nation. Greg Nolan caught and released two sailfish to claim the title. (Jorge Bustamante/Courtesy) Anglers departed off the shores of Pompano Beach at 7 a.m. and had to be back by 4 p.m. The competitors encountered brisk temperatures in the 40s. The Sailfish Smackdown tournament is based on time, where the first angler to land his or her sailfish will take the early lead and will be designated as the leader. The time the fish was landed is documented by the tournament help boats. “It was a pretty cold morning and was definitely the coldest tournament I ever fished in,” Nolan said. “The conditions improved throughout the day and I had a good plan that I followed. The two spots I chose to fish at is where I happened to land the sailfish. The second sailfish I landed was a big one and I called for the help boat to come over and yelled ‘sailfish on, sailfish on.’ That was pretty cool.” Champion Greg Nolan, of Delray Beach, battles his first sailfish catch as photographer Jorge Bustamante gets close and personal in the EKFT Sailfish Smackdown off Pompano. (EKFT/Courtesy) Nolan has fished the EKFT Sailfish Smackdown the last three years but couldn’t land a sailfish until this outing. He has caught sailfish before but not during a money-making tournament like the Sailfish Smackdown. “I never landed two sailfish in one day and this happened to be the right day,” Nolan said. “This was a good turnout for a kayak sailfish tournament. Over time, I started to figure out the waters that the sailfish stay in and the conditions. There are always a lot of first-timers and out-of-towners competing and that’s what makes this such a great tournament. I’ve met a lot of friends at these tournaments over the years and I will be coming back to compete at the next one. It’s always a good time.” Annual EKFT Sailfish Smackdown crowns annual champion Anglers at North Ocean Park in Pompano Beach show off winning cash and prizes at the annual EKFT Sailfish Smackdown. (EKFT/Courtesy) Richard Bulot, of Louisiana, came in second place by catching and releasing his sailfish at 8: 58 a.m. to take home a $2,000 check from Nautical Ventures. This was his first offshore kayak tournament and was his first sailfish catch. In third place was Christopher Wollerman who caught and released his sailfish at 10: 30 a.m. to earn $1,000 from Cooper Anchor, SA Company. Coming in fourth place was Howard Kirk, of Virginia, who landed his sailfish at 10: 40 a.m. to take home a $500 check from Nautical Ventures, followed by a fifth-place finish for Tan Raul, of Jacksonville, who was clocked in at 11: 02 a.m. to win a Proyaker Fish bag. Mike Andrews caught his sailfish at 11: 39 a.m. to win a custom handcrafted Star Rod. Delray Beach resident Greg Nolan shows off the first-place check from RAILBLAZA and Turbo USA at the EKFT Sailfish Smackdown. (EKFT/Courtesy) EKFT founder Joe Hector said he was pleased with the turnout and the performance of the anglers. The Sailfish Smackdown has been going on since 2013. “It was a pretty solid day and the hits all came in spurts,” he said. “Just about every tournament we have some anglers fishing offshore for the first time and catching their first sailfish. We had seven sailfish caught and there were 12 that were lost. We had a lot of new winners landing sailfish.” Morning Update Newsletter Weekdays Start your day with the top stories in South Florida. The Sailfish Smackdown attracts many elite kayak fishermen, but there are always new anglers drawn to the sport where all the work, satisfaction and accolades go to the individual. The victorious kayak anglers proudly hold up the EKFT Sailfish Smackdown trophy at the annual event conducted in Pompano Beach. (EKFT/Courtesy) “It was impressive with the number of doubleheaders we had and what was pretty cool is that these guys were not playing it safe and were going for the win,” Hector said. “A lot of the guys were being aggressive and wanted to land that second sail, while still battling another sailfish on the line. Every year it can be anybody who takes the championship. Our SA Company help boats were phenomenal and as a team, we were a well-oiled machine that got to these anglers so quickly to document the catches.” The next Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament will be the Exotic Bass Roundup at Lake Ida in Delray Beach on April 10.
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