A Grand-slam Day of Billfish Action off Boynton…
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 20:28

By Willie Howard, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Boynton Beach charter captain Geno Pratt and his wife, Karen, began their Jan. 20 afternoon trip on a somber note. They took the family of longtime friend and avid offshore angler Edythe Piccione into the ocean off Boynton Beach to scatter her ashes.

Piccione, a passionate blue-water angler from Palm Beach Gardens, died last month. She was 91. Her final trip into the blue water proved memorable for the Pratts as well as Piccione’s family and friends on the Geno IV. They released three species of billfish — a blue marlin, a white marlin and three sailfish — to rack up an offshore grand slam for the boat. A grand slam is very rare in the waters off South Florida, according to the International Game Fish Association.

It was a first for Geno Pratt, who started fishing in the waters off Boynton Beach in 1961. He’s caught several blue marlin and white marlin and lots of sailfish, but never three billfish species in one day. Pratt was trolling in about 300 feet of water south of Boynton Inlet when a white marlin hit a split-tailed mullet in the center of the spread. Piccione’s niece Gerry Ecker, a novice angler from Arizona, caught the white marlin, which was released.

About 20 minutes later, the Geno IV had four sailfish hit the spread at the same time. Rene Smolczynski, Paul Gale and Ecker all caught and released sailfish. Later, the crew was trolling in about 400 feet off the Boynton Beach water tower when the blue marlin, estimated at 200 pounds, hit a swimming mullet.

“All of a sudden, there was this huge explosion in the water,” Karen Pratt said. “I saw it jump about four or five times.” Gale fought the marlin for about two hours before it was close enough to the boat to photograph and release.


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