by Tom ‘Buzz’ Bzura, Event/Comm. Director, WPB Fishing Club, Contributing Writer
Late spring & early summertime can be some of the best fishing on our coastal waters. The 17th annual Palm Beach County KDW Classic headquartered out of Riviera Beach Marina, took place in early June and brought many anglers to the scale with a tale to tell. Over one-thousand participants fishing aboard 233 registered boats took to the water in pursuit of kingfish, dolphin and wahoo. The KDW Classic is hosted by the venerable West Palm Beach Fishing Club (WPBFC) and the City of Riviera Beach. It’s among the largest one-day saltwater tournaments in Florida.
Dustin Haff & team Haff Time were one of the first boats to the dock in this year’s Classic but were in no rush to weigh in just yet, sure they were sitting on a winning wahoo. “This fish is for real” said Dustin when getting their bite at 10am, in 210 ft. off Boynton Beach on Saturday morning. They trolled a 14” Mr. Mullet bait that would entice their new tournament record wahoo. The old saying “Big bait, big fish” held true. Protruding nose & tail from the dock cart, Haff Time wheeled their first place fish to the scale where it weighed in at 62.7 pounds. The previous tournament record was 55.3 pounds caught by angler Dave McConnaughay of Lake Worth fishing aboard the Shimako in 2005.
While their previous wahoo record was beat, the day would treat Stephen Ray & team Shimako well as they took top honors in the kingfish category, landing a 48.5 pound king mackerel in 130 ft. of water. The live goggle eye presented on the flat line at 8am was the ticket for a morning bite. Stephen’s king also earned him an additional $1000 for having the heaviest eligible fish, of all Marine Industries Association “Boater Members” in the tournament.
The heaviest dolphin this year weighed 28.3 pounds and was caught by angler David Batignani of team In Your Dreams. Their mahi was found 22 miles out on a weed line at 10:30am. The solo fish ate a black & blue jet head with a horse ballyhoo. Each year the KDW Classic collects gender, weight and length data on dolphin caught in the tournament. The data is sent to the Dolphinfish Research Program based in Rockville, Maryland, to aid studies related to age, growth and distribution of the species. A total of 46 dolphin were sampled this year by biology students and faculty members from Palm Beach Atlantic University.
Dustin Haff’s first place wahoo earned him the coveted title, King of the Classic, for being the male angler who landed
the heaviest eligible weight fish. Sherri Beswick took the honors on the female side, with her 26.9 pound kingfish caught aboard the Spiced Rum III. While there are no cash awards attached to the King & Queen of the Classic, serious bragging rights go with the title, including their names being engraved on the KDW Classic perpetual trophy, which is featured in the NPB Brass Ring Pub year-round.
The top Junior angler this year was Casen Emmons who landed a 26.0 pound kingfish aboard the Knot Possible. Recognizing junior anglers and promoting family fishing has always been an exciting aspect of the KDW Classic. To view photos and complete tournament results from this year’s tournament visit www.kdwclassic.com/
The Palm Beach County KDW Classic raises money for scholarships, youth fishing programs and marine conservation initiatives conducted by the WPBFC and its charitable affiliate, the Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation. “The support we receive from our dedicated team of volunteers and sponsors is what makes all this possible. We are so very grateful to have them on board.”, concluded WPBFC Chairman of the board, Pete Schulz.