Austin Collins Doubles Down for Smack Down Victory – Crazy finish sees 8 sailfish hooked during last three hours of Extreme Kayak Fishing tourney

Crazy finish sees 8 sailfish hooked during last three hours of Extreme Kayak Fishing tourney

Austin Collins got an early edge by catching and releasing the first sail of the Smack Down and followed it up with a winning second fish. Photo Jorge Bustamante
Austin Collins got an early edge by catching and releasing the first sail of the Smack Down and followed it up with a winning second fish. Photo Jorge Bustamante

Collins gets edge on Smack Down field with
early sail then catches up for the big win

By Rich Holland

Extreme fishing, extreme action and extreme competition are what you expect from Joe and Maria Hector’s Extreme Kayak Fishing tournament circuit and the 2016 Sailfish Smack Down event held in Pompano Beach, FL more than lived up to that description, with multiple kayakers doubling up on sailfish releases, including a crazy last frenzy of afternoon hookups that produced 8 successful releases out of 9 sailfish hookups in the last three hours of the event, including the winning fish for Austin Collins.

“There was a lot of drama at the end, I would say it was one of our best tournaments ever, if not the best,” says Joe Hector of Extreme Kayak Fishing, Inc.

The Sailfish Smackdown is heavily weighted towards when fish are caught — as in the sooner the better. Collins got a huge advantage on the field when he grabbed the leader of the Sailfish Smack Down’s first sailfish at 9:07 a.m. Saturday. The weekend event (Jan. 30 and 31) featured a 7:30 Shoot Off start. A total of six kayakers caught and released sails the first day in calm weather, a big change from rough conditions during the practice period.

Eric McDonald got on the board at 9:07 of the second morning, but that was the only sail leadered by a kayaker before noon. Things got crazy soon once the clock switch to p.m., with releases radioed in at 12:26 (Derek Engle) and 1:02 (Logan Clay). Then Pam Wirth got on the board with her first sailfish release at 1:09. Chris Simmons was a minute behind with his release at 1:10.

Pam Wirth leadered and released two sailfish in one hour on the last afternoon of the Sailfish Smack Down. Photo Jorge Bustamante
Pam Wirth leadered and released two sailfish in one hour on the last afternoon of the Sailfish Smack Down. Photo Jorge Bustamante

Then Wirth went to work and made a solid grab for the cash and the lead with a second released fish at 1:45 p.m., making her the first kayaker to double down on the sails.

Wirth’s perch at the top didn’t last 30 minutes as Brian Nelli, who was one of the six kayakers who scored the first day, added his second release to take over the lead at 2:13.

Two anglers were still hooked up when lines out was called 3 p.m., meaning that if they got their sailfish to the kayak for a release, the fish would count. At 3:04 p.m. Austin Collins did just that, gaining enough points to claim the championship and $3000 as winner of the Salfish Smack Down. Keeping Collins from bookending the event was Byron Massey, who released the tournament’s last fish at 3:06 p.m.

Brian Nelli was the leader at lines out with this sailfish, only to lose when Collins fish, hooked before 3 p.m., was successfully released. Photo Jorge Bustamante
Brian Nelli was the leader at lines out with this sailfish, only to lose when Collins fish, hooked before 3 p.m., was successfully released. Photo Jorge Bustamante

“The 2016 Sailfish Smack Down had 15 sailfish landed and 10 lost by a total of 87 kayak anglers,” notes Joe Hector. “That’s the most sailfish for one of our serie’s events and the most of any kayak fishing tournament in the world!”

For his second place finish Brian Nelli won $1000, while Pam Wirth took home $500. All the top kayakers also received beautiful sailfish trophies or plaques from Global Fishmounts (see the complete list of prizes below).

Biggest money winner of the event was Brandon Meltzer who reaped the benefits of a big pool in the Railblaza Kingfish Calcutta to take home $4600 for his 11.8-pound kingfish. Benny Soca scored $500 for a 15.8-pound dolphin in the YakAttack Dolphin Division. Brandon Nodal won JimyJigs prize pack worth $300 in the JimyJigs USA Bottom Fish Division.

Anglers came from all over to compete in the Sailfish Smack Down, including Nebraska, Mississippi, Texas, North and South Carolina, Missouri, and even Puerto Rico, Canada and South Africa!

Find out more about the next Extreme Kayak Fishing series event, The Battle in the Bahamas April 7 to the 10th, on ExtremeKayakFishing.org.

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Big checks, beautiful trophies, great prizes added to a successful Sailfish Smack Down. Courtesy photo.

Sailfish Smack Down Payout and Prizes
1ST – Austin Collins winning $3,000.00 from TURBO USA & Sailfish Trophy from Global Fishmounts
2ND – Brian Nelli $1,000.00 Ffrom Nautical Ventures & Sailfish Plaque from Global Fishmounts
3RD Pam Wirth $500.00 from Nautical Ventures, AFTCO Gaff worth $100 & plaque from Global Fishmounts
4TH – Derrick Benton FREE 3 NIGHT HOTEL STAY FOR THE 2016 BATTLE IN THE BAHAMAS
5th – Robinson Rodriguez Costa Sunglasses Glasses & Sailfish Art Piece
WOMENS DIVISION – Pam Wirth FREE ENTRY TO THE SUMMER SLAM SERIES PART 1 & 2
YAKATTACK DOLPHIN DIVISION – Benny Scoca $500.00 15.8lb Dolphin
Jimyjigs USA BOTTOM FISH DIVISION – Brandon Nodal JIMYJIGS PRIZE PACK worth $300
RAILBLAZA Kingfish Calcutta- Brandon Meltzer $4,600 with his 11.8lb Kingfish

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