The Pot History
The 2738 Pot
“The annual tradition of catching the first Sailfish”
An event that’s unique to Jacksonville is the “2738 Sailfish Pot.” It was started in 1959 by a group of local charter boat and recreational fishermen. At that time, boat to boat communication was done with AM radio and the locals used the 2738 band…like channel 68 and 72 are used today on VHF radio and thus the “2738 Sailfish Pot.” The AM band radio had an almost unlimited range so the fishermen were able to communicate with one another over very long distances.
This group of fishermen had been talking with each other by radio for several years and while they knew the boat names and possibly recognized the captain’s voice, several of them had never actually met in person. As all fishermen will do from time to time, I’m sure there was a lot of bragging and boasting about their catches and who was the best fisherman on the Atlantic. So, someone in the fleet suggested they all get together for an evening of fun and meet each other.
The first party was held at J. Hall “Carp” Carpenter’s home. As the party broke up that evening, someone suggested they put up a little wager and the fisherman in the group who caught the first Sailfish of the 1960 season would be declared the winner…with all bragging rights reserved. The group agreed and they also agreed the winner would also have to host the next party.
Fishermen are sometimes known for exaggerating so it’s only natural that they can be suspicious of each other. So, a question arose on who was going to hold the money and where it would be kept. “Carp” Carpenter just happened to have the perfect item for holding the cash and he was a gentleman of “class and character” and well trusted…it was an original chamber pot. That’s right…a genuine “thunder-mug.” And the tradition of the “2738 Sailfish Pot” was started.
Each year after the first Sailfish of the season was caught the winner’s name was painted on the pot and it was passed on to him to retain until the first Sailfish of the following season was caught…then it was passed on again and again. This tradition continued until there was no space left to add names. The “Pot” was then transferred to a large base which allowed room for future winner’s names to added with an engrave brass plaque. That original pot still exists today at the top of this perpetual trophy. To date, there have been only two years in the history of this event when a Sailfish wasn’t caught and the “Pot” wasn’t claimed.
In addition to winning the cash proceeds of the pot, the bragging rites and the privilege of hosting the annual party, the winning angler also receives a solid brass casting of the original pot which is embossed with his name and the boat from which it was caught.
Joe Campbell was one of the original organizers of the event and he was also the designer /builder of the mold from which these beautiful brass pots are made. Before Joe passed away he passed the mold to Terry “T-Man” Wallace. Joe and Terry were close friends and Joe wanted someone he could trust to carry on the tradition of having the brass pots made for the “2738 Sailfish Pot” winners.
By tradition, this is a stag event. It’s that one night out a year when the men, (two hundred or so), get together and have a steak dinner, oysters, chicken wings, drink beer and tell lies about their fishing escapades.
It is an honor to win this award but there’s a price to pay for the honor. The winner is responsible for making all arrangements for the party and collecting prizes which are raffled to make the necessary money to cover the expenses of the party and leave some cash in the “Pot” for the next year’s winner. It’s not an easy task…but it’s fun and rewarding.
The event is open to all fishermen and non-fishermen…many come just for the fellowship and to enjoy a good time along with a traditionally great meal.