Some fishing experts of the area estimated that the stretch of Gulf Stream along the coast between Stuart and Miami, some 100 miles, contains perhaps a million sailfish of various sizes, including those too small to be caught during the peak season, December to March. It has also begun to be suspected that these are the world's most educated fish. Over the years they have been caught and released time and again and it is well recognized that even a fish can be fooled only so often. Recently it has been increasingly difficult to attract them to a dead balao or mullet skipped over the waves, once the best sporting way of taking them. Much more success is now had with live bait, trolled deep and very slowly. Tournament rules forbade the use of live bait, or even drifting through schools, so that it was tantalizing at times to hear radio reports of fish being taken, as many as a dozen to a boat, by live-baiting fishermen not entered in the tournament.
This queen of tournaments, which attracted master anglers from as far away as California, was won by James F. Baldwin of Locust Valley, N.Y., who was never passed after the second day of fishing. Baldwin amassed 860 points, even though he disqualified one of his sailfish on a technicality. His prize was a copy of Ernest Hemingway's novel, The Old Man and the Sea, bound in heavy silver and set between massive bookends, one a sculpture of the old man in his boat, the other of the big billfish rising from the sea.
"I have won before," Baldwin said, "but I have never wanted to win any tournament as much as this one."
Second place went to Carlton A. Smith of Palm Beach, with 715 points, and third to Charles F. Johnson of Asheville, N.C. and Palm Beach, with 600. High boat was the Ric-A-Dor, owned by Richard S. Beinecke, Palm Beach, and skippered by Captain Jake Morrison. Anglers aboard it caught 23 fish.
The Invitational Masters, an unqualified success in its inaugural meeting, is bound to attract more anglers next year. It is an ideal tournament in a perfect setting—Palm Beach has an easily negotiable inlet, productive waters and fine boats. Chances are that no more than 50 will be permitted to compete after screening for qualifications, since only about 25 boats that meet the committee's high standards are available. This is just as well. The idea, as the committee sees it, is to put emphasis on quality fishing, not quantity.