The “Iron Man” of Billfishing Tournaments – 2015 Florida’s West Coast Triple Crown Billfish Series

PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release | Courtesy: Old Salt Fishing Foundation | Jill Foraker – Secretary

May 22nd, 2015 Madeira Beach

The Gulf coast of Florida, not readily known for billfishing is a hidden gem among the billfishing world. You know about boats traveling to South America and other hot spot destinations to find these elusive fish. Off the West coast of Florida, approximately 100 miles or so, is the Loop Current and within this massive movement of water are gorgeous billed beasts anglers are in pursuit of. Most anglers that fish the Loop plan for more than a day trip, in fact most spend several days away from port fishing and catching all types of pelagics: Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Sailfish, Swordfish, Tuna, Dolphin, Wahoo and more. We all know that most of these exclusive, extremely fortunate anglers are fishing on “floating condominiums,” but there are several hardcore center console teams as well. The facts remain, 3 days, 100 plus miles offshore, is extreme to the max and grueling on the body and mind but, a heck of an adventure! It’s non-stop fishing, all day, all night and this is why the West Coast Triple Crown has been coined the “Iron Man of Billfishing Events.” This series brings 3 extreme billfishing tournaments right to the backdoor of hundreds of anglers to fish the Gulf waters they call home.

The series has three individual tournaments with similar rules and regulations. Teams must fish in a minimum of two of these events to qualify for the prestigious Triple Crown; which comes with some well deserved bragging rights, a ring that looks like you just won the Super Bowl and a $50,000 cash jackpot to top it all off.

Leg One: The Yellowfin Billfish Classic

July 28th – August 1st, 2015 • Sarasota FL

2014 Tournament Recap

The Yellowfin Classic kicked off the season last year with a bang. It was held at the beautiful Marina Jacks in Sarasota, FL. The captain’s party brought a lot of excitement with the new format being released and some great teams to fish against each other. At the weigh in everyone was ready to see what the teams had brought back to the scales. The day started out with 3 teams brining in their photos and video of their billfish catches. Team For Now with angler Anthony Bibelhauser took the early lead with one blue marlin release. The Reel Screamer was on their tails with 3 sailfish releases putting them in second place and Team Ripper had one sailfish release putting them in third place. As for the “fun” fish (Tuna, Dolphin and Wahoo) all teams came back to the scales with one of the three species to weigh. All of the teams at this point still had a chance to win the big prize of $50,000 for the best overall of the three events.

Leg Two: The 32nd Annual Crosthwait Memorial Billfish Tournament

August 11th – 15th, 2015 • Bradenton FL

2014 Tournament Recap

This event was originally held as part of the Crosthwait Memorial Inshore/Offshore Tournament annually held in the month of May but removed Billfish from the Offshore side of the event and moved the dates later in the year for better fishing conditions and to become part of the Triple Crown Series. The Crosthwait is held at the Bradenton Yacht Club, another beautiful location. Last years teams convened once again to compete not only for the win of the event but to gain ground on the overall series. 2014’s weigh in was filled with lots of fish drama. It started out with the return of Team Hooker with a blue marlin release. All attention quickly got turned to Team Reel Screamer as we verified a Gulf Coast Billfish SUPER SLAM. This is a rare feat in the Gulf of Mexico, let alone for anywhere in the world. The team landed one blue marlin, two white marlin, 3 sailfish and one swordfish to complete the slam. This quickly took them into the lead not only for the Crosthwait event but also for the entire series. Haulin’ Grass proved again that the Swordfish was no match for them with a 116.88 pound fish. The Ripper, with the help of a crane at the weigh in, unleashed their prize 129.44 pound Yellowfin Tuna. This was the heaviest of all the fish in the entire series. What an incredible event – every team came back with fish, they all said “it was the best fishing of their lives that weekend”. Every team claimed prize money as well.

Leg Three: The 44th Annual Old Salt LOOP Tournament

August 25th – 29th • Madeira Beach FL

2014 Tournament Recap

The final leg of the series was the Old Salt Loop Tournament. This event has been around for 43 years and is one of the oldest Billfish events in Florida. Winning this event alone is an honor. This also would commence the Triple Crown and we would give away $50,000 and the title to one lucky team. Going into the event Team Reel Screamer had quite a lead and would be hard to catch, but nonetheless all the teams returned to the water in pursuit of Billfish.

The teams returned to the scales with more great catches and releases. Team Under Armor took the lead at this event with a white marlin catch and held onto it. The only other team returning with billfish was of course, Team Reel Screamer with two sailfish releases. This secured their win of the overall series. The event carried on with wahoo’s and bull dolphin weighed in and of course, going 3 for 3, Team Haulin’ Grass showed up with another swordfish.

The Triple Crown Billfish Series 2014 Winners

The award ceremony was held right after the Loop Tournament weigh in. We crowned our first team with the win of the Triple Crown Billfish Series and adorned them with a check for $50,000. Team Reel Screamer took the win with style and grace. Champagne was sprayed and of course the fireball came out. Congratulations to all the teams that made this inaugural year a success!

2015 will mark the 2nd year for the Triple Crown Billfish Series. We have released the dates and we are looking for an incredible year of fishing. The Gulf Coast waters will again prove to be awesome Billfishing grounds. So, get your team together and plan your strategies now – Be part of the “Iron Man of Billfishing”.

The Gulf Coast waters will again prove to be awesome Billfishing grounds. So, get your team together and plan your strategies now – Be part of the “Iron Man of Billfishing”.

For More Information:


The History:

Forty-four years ago a few local fisherman where approached by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to assist in research being done with the “Loop Current”. The Loop Current is a warm ocean current that flows northward between Cuba and the Yucatán Peninsula, moves north into the Gulf of Mexico, loops east and south before exiting to the east through the Florida Straits and joining the Gulf Stream. In the late 60’s and early 70’s boats, marine navigation and range were quite different from todays Sport Fish boats and 40ft center consoles and that’s can carry three engines and fuel capacity to go to Cuba and back. NOAA vessels had the range to get out to these deep blue waters but lacked the Knowledge of how to fish in these types of waters and so a partnership was created and the quest to learn what the Loop Current was keeping secret, why it existed and where it traveled. After the second year of NOAA working with this group of anglers, a decision was made – ok a bet was made between the anglers. As most fisherman know, fishing is nothing more then a game of chance, a pursuit for the elusive but attainable so it seemed fitting to turn this bet into a tournament. Which boat will catch the most Billfish? Hence the Old Salts were born. Old Salt is an acronym standing for Operation Loop Development – Suncoast Anglers Loop Tournament. As more fisherman were interested in fishing the Loop and placing a wager into the tournament the boat count grew and the Loop tournament morphed into what is today, 44 years later, The Old Salt Fishing Foundation, one of the largest fishing organizations in the country.

In the recent past three billfishing tournaments, one being the Old Salt LOOP Tournament was held here in west central FL, the series was named the Triple Crown. But as tournament directors changed some of the events fell apart and the Old Salt LOOP Tournament was left holding its own.

“It has been a goal of mine since I became president of the Old Salts to resurrect this series. It is the foundation of the Old Salts, says President Tom Verdensky. “Anglers call our event the “Iron Man of Billfishing”, and its true. Yes, its fishing but its hard core fishing at its finest but the payoff is worth it!” says Verdensky. 2014’s Super Slam (Blue, White, Stripped and Sword) caught by team Team Reel Screamer along with all the other marlin and pelagics caught in 2014 Triple Crown series simply proves what a spectacular fishery we have right here off Florida’s West Coast. Says Verdensky.


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