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April 10, 2009

South Florida anglers release 50 sailfish in one day off Key West

The team was tuning up for the World Sailfish Championship.

Pompano Beach resident Tim Maddock and his angling crew caught and released 50 sailfish off Key West Thursday, while tuning up for the World Sailfish Championship that begins next Tuesday.

Maddock, who owns the Vitamin Sea Too, a 33-foot Contender, fished with Mike Reisert of Pompano Beach; Chris Zidar of Boca Raton; Jon Kreig, Deerfield Beach, Chris Meek of Pompano; and Mike Dinnen of Fort Lauderdale.

For certain the 50 releases in a single day of fishing is a Florida Keys record, said Mike Weinhofer, World Sailfish Championship director and it could be a state record. The previous Keys record was 37 sailfish releases in one day, achieved in May 2005 by Captain Marty Lewis on the Main Attraction off Marathon.

The International Game Fish Association does not keep records for releases, according to World Record Coordinator Becky Wright. A call to the Billfish Foundation was not returned Friday, perhaps due to the Good Friday holiday.

"The fish were just pouring through," Maddock said. "We had 60 bites and caught 50 of them."

Maddock said he ran out of bait three times, borrowing each time from a nearby boat.

Maddock hopes the hot sailfishing continues into next week for the WSC which features three days of fishing and one lay day. Eighty boats are to compete for a cash prize purse of $1.6 million, Weinhofer said.

"The World Sailfish tournament is in its seventh year and it's never been won with more than 15 fish," Maddock said. "Timing is everything."