2008-11-20 - Florida Keys Sailfish Tournaments
The OUA team is getting geared up for the upcoming season in the Keys and hoping to get more involved with the Sailfish Tournaments. We would like to take this opportunity to give you all a good idea on what it takes and the amount of work that is involved.

Our tackle is all top notch Penn spinning reels on custom blanks, wound with either 12lb or 20lb depending on which tournament we are fishing. This along with extra spools on standby, as well as leaders and circle hooks. For us the preparation starts now as we begin to put up live bait, goggleyes, cigar minnows and pilchards which all have to be caught on hook and line and remain untouched which is very important as not to knock any scales off or wipe off any protective slime. These baits are kept in separate pens and fed daily...lots of maintenance. We like to feed the baits several different things, blood line, cat food, chum and fish scraps left at the end of the day. Now you might be asking yourself, "what about ballyhoo"? The answer is yes we use ballyhoo too! However, we are unable to pen these baits up and we are using mostly kites and the ‘hoos' aren’t the best bait of choice while kite fishing. We like to use them more out of the riggers and casting into bait showers on the edge of the reef.

Typically the sailfish season starts in November and we will fish the reef above us...meaning Molasses to E marker and as the months go by the fish slide down the edge moving towards their main stay which is Mexico. During this time we get a window of opportunity to fish bait showers which can be very rewarding with big numbers. For those who are not familiar with a bait shower, it’s a really cool experience to watch. The reef edge will go from 100ft to 25 ft pretty quickly and in the shallow water you have areas where the rough bottom will meet the sand and most of your bait is piled up there to. So the sailfish will come in from the deeper water up to the edge and eat. They stick out like a sore thumb and the dead giveaway is the BAITSHOWER. So knowing these areas along the reef is important and when the conditions are right you can pretty much plan on spending your day fishing in the bait showers. If we aren’t chasing showers you’ll find us somewhere in the deeper water and for us that means anywhere from 60ft to 175ft, which seems like a big difference, but it’s not as the bottom drops off nicely. This is when we will fish out of the riggers or put up the kites. Some tournaments allow kites & some don’t. Also, we are limited to the amount of lines we can use as anywhere from 4 to 6 lines are allowed. We like to use Penn GLDs when kite fishing and our Penn 850 spinners. Onboard we have two or three live-well’s so we can continue to keep baits separate and handle them as little as possible. They are taken from one pen to the other one at a time so it's stress free...I know it sounds crazy but that’s the most important part of the whole procedure...weak baits are NO good.

Captain John Oughton


January 4-6 Key Largo Sailfish Challenge Key Largo, FL January 11-13 Holiday Isle Sailfish Tournament Islamorada, FL January 15-17 Cheeca Lodge Sailfish Tournament Islamorada, FL January 17-19 Outdoor Channel Offshore Classic Islamorada, FL January 23-24 Over The Hill Sailfish Tournament Islamorada, FL February 8-10 Womens Sailfish Tournament Islamorada, FL February 19-20 Poor Girls Sailfish Tournament Islamorada, FL April 15-19 World Sailfish Tournament Key West, FL May 16-18 Coconuts Dolphin Tournament Key Largo, FL