Greetings from the International Game Fish Association headquarters. I had a couple reasons to come down to these hallowed halls of sportfishing history today, and luckily I ran into a buddy who had "gone missing" for the fall. I'd called Erik Waldin a number of times over the past two months to invite him fishing. I just got his voicemail, and the voicemail message was cryptic: "I'll be unable to respond to phone calls or emails until early November." Turns out he spent the fall fishing in Russia. Poor guy.
I asked him why he came home and he said, "I missed sailfishing."
Actually, his competetive streak had a bit to do with it as well. Erik's a perennial contender in the most competitive billfish tournaments and tournament series, including the Sailfish Pro Series. This year, he's fishing this series with a billfishing legend, Capt. Ray Rosher, aboard the Blue Hour.
Soon as I saw Erik I knew he'd been fishing hard. There is sun on his face, he hasn't shaved and he looks like he hadn't slept much in a while. We've had "sailfish weather" early this year, so I wasn't hazarding much of a guess when I asked him how the sailfishing has been.
"Early season has been phenomenal," he said. "Top boats are releasing as many as 10 fish per day, and it's only early in November."
Most hardcore sailfish tournament anglers, charter captains and biologists are thinking that this winter season might serve up another epic year of sailfishing.
The scientific assessements of the western Atlantic sailfish population agree with the catch rates. It's not just that Florida is home to the best sailfishermen in the world, and that they could find the last sailfish in the ocean if that had to. We've also done a great job making sure the population stays healthy. If you've ever dreamed of catching a "spindlebeak" or 10, or more, this year is shaping up to be the stuff angling dreams are made of.