It’s all about the vibe

2019 Fish Heads of Stuart “Quickie” winner Floridian returns to the Manatee Pocket. Photo provided by Ed Killer

By Ed Killer for CAM

When it comes to tournament sailfishing, it’s all about the vibe. The right one can lead to a victory. The wrong one can relegate a team to also-ran status.

As the Floridian fishing team began to ascend through the standings of the Fish Heads of Stuart Quickie Sailfish Tournament, everyone on board was in sync with that perfect vibe for catching and releasing sailfish. By the end of the two-day tournament, it wound up putting the team into the winner’s circle with nine sailfish.

“The vibe on the boat is everything,” explained Capt. Glenn Cameron, owner and operator of the Floridian, a charter boat based at Sailfish Marina in Stuart. “If you don’t have the right vibe, you don’t have anything.”

Catching sailfish in a tournament with 14 of the best fishing teams in Florida leaves little room for mistakes. It’s a team effort — way more than just one angler versus one fish. Action is taking place throughout the cockpit and everyone has a role in getting the sailfish to the boat, and then released quickly.

The captain has to maneuver the boat without running over the fishing line, even as the sailfish speeds in circles or jumps wildly nearby. The angler has to keep the line taut, even as jumping creates slack line. One team member needs to grab the leader below the knot, signifying a legal release. Another needs to keep all the action framed in a video with a camera or cellphone, despite waves crashing over the stern as the captain backs the boat into a wave.

“One person can mess it up,” Cameron said. “But our team has a lot of good chemistry.”

Cameron praised his top angler — and wife — Jennifer Cameron. The Stuart couple have been working hard to elevate her angling skills from an amateur three years ago to a veritable tournament-winning veteran.

“She did awesome and outfished everybody,” Glenn said.

Jimmy Vaughan of Winter Haven, Justin Drummond of Texas and Hayden Brownie of Islamorada were the team’s other anglers. Vaughan said Jennifer Cameron was a force in the cockpit.

“She was red hot,” Vaughan said.

Jennifer said communication was key.

“Justin taught me to prospect (an angling method which can generate a sailfish bite), and we used headsets for the first time, which really helped us all a lot,” she said. “Honestly, we had a lot of ‘rigger bites. I was just hanging out by them all day, and they just kept popping, popping, popping.”

Teams troll with four lines in the water. Two are usually deployed on outriggers 15-20 feet to the sides of the boat.

The 14 boats caught 22 fish on day one and 43 on day two for 65 overall.

Cameron said the majority of his bites came along a current edge with green water and blended water.

“We had beautiful conditions blowing about 20 mph out of the northwest,” he said. “There was a hard edge. I would make a sweep up into the super green water inshore and then chug downsea and then, here they come.”

PHOTO:  2019 Fish Heads of Stuart “Quickie” winner Floridian returns to the Manatee Pocket. Photo provided by Ed Killer


Quickie results

9 sailfish releases, Floridian, Capt. Glenn Cameron

8, Vintage, Capt. Hans Kraaz Jr.

7, InTents, Capt. Rhett Bailey


Quickie past results

2018: 8 sailfish, Alikai, Capt. Patrick Price; Fleet — 53 sailfish, 16 boats

2017: 9 sailfish, Showtime!, Capt. Wink Doerzbacher; Fleet — 70 sailfish, 17 boats

2016: 14 sailfish, Martha D, Capt. Scott Fawcett; Fleet — 108 sailfish, 18 boats

2015: 8 sailfish, Big Oh, Capt. Mike King; Fleet — 21 sailfish, 12 boats

2014: 7 sailfish, Outlaw, Capt. Ian Wichers; Fleet — 45 sailfish, 12 boats

Record: (2010) 19, Zues, Capt. Glenn Cameron; Fleet — 116 sailfish, 21 boats