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Date of Issue: August 18, 2010

Sailfish tops fisher’s birthday

Carlos Leizan, left, and Carlos Gomez, right, from Tampa, helped reel in this estimated 8-foot sailfish off Anna Maria Island. Islander Photo: Courtesy Andy Conde

Carlos Gomez looked at a wall of rain closing in on his 20-foot Sea Hunt some 12 miles offshore of Anna Maria Island Aug. 8. The wind had just switched directions.

One angler became sea sick in the boat and rocking seas.

But just when the offshore trip seemed to be over for Gomez, who regularly visits Anna Maria Island from Tampa, something took a flat-lined threadfin and sped off just under the surface of the water.

Carlos Leizan, who was turning 48 that day, grabbed the rod and began reeling in the 50-pound braided line tied to an 80-pound fluorocarbon leader.

“It’s a kingfish,” Gomez thought. “There was no steel leader, no longshank hook. He’s break off.”

Then the fish jumped. It was a sailfish in 50 feet of water.

Throughout the 45-minute fight, each of the four men on the boat took turns wearing out the sailfish. Also on the boat were Andy Conde, 20, and Louis Dominguez, 16.

Gomez brought the sailfish on the boat and estimated it at 8 feet in length. The fishers released the sailfish alive.

“I know people have caught sailfish off of Anna Maria Island before, but in the middle of the summer like this and so shallow seems rare,” he said.

Gomez said when he returned to the Kingfish Boat Ramp, an FWC officer asked to look in his ice box, which contained one grunt. Gomez mentioned he’d caught a sailfish, which caused the officer to smirk.

“Then we asked if he wanted to see a photo,” said Gomez, who said he showed the officer his photos and a short video.

“The officer seemed taken for a moment,” Gomez said.