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2011 New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational

The 13th annual New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational took three postponements but was well worth the wait as boats tallied 115 sailfish releases along with good wahoo, tuna and dolphin fishing in two days of calm seas and perfect fall conditions. Day one started with numerous bait pods marking on the edge of the continental shelf and sailfish cutting the surface. The first sailfish was released at 8:25am by the team on the “Rough-N-It” with the fleet continuing to enjoy a good bite through the morning.

Capt. John Lloyd on the “Grand Slam” caught eleven fish to win the day followed closely by Capt. Ed Nicolace on the “Rough-N-It” with ten releases Friday. A total of seventy-five sailfish were released by the fleet on day one. Several boats were in position to challenge after Friday's fishing with Saturday being a lay day and fishing continuing on Sunday.

Day two action started immediately with several boats hooking up within minutes after the ‘lines in” call. By 8:10am, Capt. Ray Gibson on the “Right Hook” had scored the first release of the day with the fleet releasing another forty fish as the battle for the final standings were fought. The crew onboard the “Right Hook” stayed hot all morning and ended with six releases to secure a second place finish with 1,600 points. “Rough-N-It” captured six fish on the day for a 1,600 point total as well but based on time, resulted in third place overall. “Outlaw” with Captain Neil Subin caught five fish on day two earning a fourth place finish with 1,400 points total.

The “Grand Slam” held off all contenders by releasing its sixth fish on the day with four minutes left in the tournament, adding to the eleven releases from day one to narrowly secure a first place standing with 1,700 points. The crew of “Grand Slam” is now qualified to represent the New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational next year in the IGFA Offshore Championship in Cabo San Lucas.

First place wahoo was awarded to “Lor-A-Di”, the top tuna went to the “Decoy” and outstanding dolphin to the “Playtime”. Day one's Nooner award, Top female angler Allison Wigley and Jr Angler Van Winchers all were awarded to the “Bone Shaker”. Day two's Nooner award went to the “Joker II”. Top male angler along with WBS Top Angler award went to Wallis Higginbotham aboard the “Grand Slam” which qualifies him for the WBS Championship in Costa Rica. The Small Boat Division winner or vessels 38' and smaller including all outboards went to Capt. Danny Perna on “Eco”.

This year's New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational weather delays allowed the weekend to be shared with the 1st Annual Fall Classic and the wonderful facilities at The Fishing Store, setting the stage for what should be a very competitive 2011/2012 Sailfish tournament season. The NSBBI is continuing its tradition of raising funds for education with over $130,000 being donated for Volusia County High School Scholarships. Please mark your calendars for the 14th annual New Smyrna Beach Billfish Invitational October 11 – 14, 2012.

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