Last-Minute Sailfish Drama

Last-Minute Sailfish Drama
Team Sandman anglers fight a sailfish off Palm Beach during the Sailfish Open. (Courtesy Sailfish Pro Series)

Team Hard Way withstands huge rally to win Sailfish Open

PALM BEACH, Fla. - The World Fishing Tour moved its annual Sailfish Open to Palm Beach for the first time this year as nearly 200 anglers battled a rough bite to put together one of the most dramatic finishes in series history.

Team Hard Way, one of the smallest boats in the tournament, released its eighth and final sailfish of the tournament with less than a half hour remaining in the contest but was forced to bite their nails as they waited to see how Team My Doris’s day ended. That boat was fighting a quad and fish No. 4 was the potential winner.

“It was nail biting the last 45 minutes just sitting there listening to the other boats report their releases,” said Capt. Mark Lamb, who led the 32-foot Mercury powered Contender Hard Way. “We’re not getting bit, My Doris has a quad and we can’t do anything about it. We didn’t know what happened.”

It wasn’t until Lamb received a text message from tournament headquarters during the run home that his team was able to celebrate. The win netted Hard Way more than $86,000 of the record $300,000 payout and continued the boat’s sailfish tournament streak.

Lamb said the only reason they were able to fish the Sailfish Open was because they had won a tournament three weeks earlier in Jupiter. Those circumstances were quite a bit different from Friday’s finale.

In that tournament, it was Hard Way scoring two releases in the final six minutes to win by one fish.

My Doris owner Mark Modist said his team knew the situation as they fought the quad past the lines out time. Describing the scene as “cockpit chaos,” Modist said he was thrilled to compete with one of the strongest sailfish fields you’ll ever find.

“I knew if we caught all four we were the winner,” he said. “We caught the first two, No. 3 got off and we landed the fourth one. It’s amazing to think that these are the greatest fishermen in the world and eight fish wins the tournament.”

For Team Hard Way, the former tournament bass fishermen turned sailfishers proved knowing the local waters is the key to any tournament, no matter how heavy the tackle.

“I told Daryl this morning when we came out of the inlet that we were going north,” Lamb said. “We still had a chance to win this thing. When we got to our spot by the Juno Pier, there were no other boats around. We were all by ourselves.”

The tournament featured a charity division, which was won by Team Sandman with five releases. With the win, Sandman owner Sandra MacMillan was able to donate $15,000 to the Billfish Foundation.

The Sailfish Open is the third of the four-tournament Sailfish Pro Series. Team Sea Hunter, buoyed by its five releases in the Sailfish Open, jumps to the top of the Sailfish Pro Series standings, leading Team DeBaitAble by 16 points headed into the final qualifying tournament, the World Sailfish Championship (WSC), which will be held in Key West April 17-21. The WSC is sport's highest profile and richest tournament paying out more than $1 million last year. It is the event’s 10th anniversary in 2012.

The Sailfish Pro Series is a series of quality tournaments designed to showcase professional sailfishing. The Sailfish Pro Series begins with the first of four events Nov. 14-16 when the Sailfish Cup takes place in Miami Beach. The next event is the Sailfish Open in West Palm Beach, Feb. 1-3 and then the World Sailfish Championships in Key West, April 17-21. The Sailfish Pro Series Finale in Miami Beach will take place for the top ranking teams after completing the season. For more information visit

Recommended for You


Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.


MLF Pros: What's With the Moon?

G&F Online Staff

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think?


New TRUGLO Bowfishing EZ•Rest

May 23, 2019

Brush-style bowfishing arrow rest and kits designed for simplicity and reliability.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley's Frittside Crankbaits

World Fishing Network show host Chad LaChance had a chance to visit with legendary crankbait master David Fritts about his new Frittside crankbaits from Berkley. LaChance, host of the Fishful Thinker on WFN, also got a few cranking tips from Fritts, the former Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion.

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

In the booth of one of fishing's all-time great reel makers, Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead and Andrew Wheeler of Pure Fishing discuss one of the brand new baitcasting reels from Abu Garcia being released at ICAST 2019.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these five great...


Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson - February 13, 2018

Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as "kid's fishing ponds," but...


7 Best Bets For New Jersey Largemouth Bass

October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.