THE 1980s AND 1990s
Palm Beach was visited for the first time in 1980 and in 1981, after a ten year absence, we were back in Ocean City. The 1982 Derby was fished in Palm Beach and that for 1983 was at Oregon Inlet. Our 1984 Derby (actually fished in January, 1985) was at Palm Beach and in September, 1985 we returned to that great port on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
By this time Cancun, Mexico had developed into one of the best fishing holes to be found in this Hemisphere, so there was held our 39th Derby, in 1986. We celebrated our 40th, in February, 1987, by going back to one of the consistently great spots, Palm Beach. In June, 1988 the 41st was at Cancun and in February, 1989 we went back to Palm Beach for the 42nd Annual Derby. There were 36 anglers there, a number that has been exceeded only once in the history of the Club.
In May, 1990 we made our second trip to the Pacific, holding the 43rd at Flamingo, Costa Rica. And, for the 44th, in April, 1991, we returned to Cozumel, after a 16 year hiatus. June, 1992 found us back in Costa Rica, at Flamingo, for the 45th. In February, 1993 we held the 46th at Palm Beach, going there for the sixth time. Only 12 anglers fished, making it the smallest Derby on record, until then. Number 47 was back in Cozumel with 13 anglers in May, 1994.
Fishing in Cancun was getting better each year, particularly in the Spring, so the 48th was held there, fishing from the Hacienda del Mar marina using American boats. It was the most successful fish catching Derby up to that time, surpassing the two trips to Cozumel in the '70s. Nineteen members and two substitutes fished for three days and caught 136 sails and one white marlin -- an average of slightly more than two billfish per angler per day. The winner caught 14 fish, the most ever taken by any single angler in a Derby. That prompted the Club to go back to Cancun for the 49th, in May, 1996 when the catch of the year before was surpassed: 24 anglers released 194 sailfish for an average of almost three fish per angler per day.
The 50th Anniversary of the Club would fall on January 8, 1997 and it was decided to hold the 50th Derby at that time. Palm Beach it was, therefore, in the first week of January. The weather was great for tourists and, accordingly, not so great for anglers and the twenty-one Derby entrants caught only eight sailfish. But it was a great Derby and only fitting that it should have been held precisely at the anniversary. It took only two years to break the record set in Cancun in 1996 of 194 billfish taken in a Derby. Twenty-two anglers fished the 51st, at Pinas Bay, Panama and, fishing two to a boat, they released 196 Pacific sailfish in three days. The non-derby days resulted in 93 more releases. The champion set another record: 17 releases. The two anglers per boat was a departure from tradition but the only boats available at the Tropic Star Lodge were 31' Bertrams and three anglers would have been a little cramped.
The 52nd Derby was held at Iztapa, Guatemala in February, 1999 and produced the best fishing ever, per angler. There were only 10 anglers, the smallest number for any Derby, but they caught 124 Pacific billfish: 3 blue marlin and 121 sailfish, all on 20 pound string. The average "catch" was over four fish per angler, per day.