Fishing May 4,5,6, 2017
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Custom Boat Shootout Press Release
Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbour Marina, Marsh Harbour, Bahamas – The 16th Anniversary of the Custom Shootout kicked off with a crew party to “kick-off the kick-off,” which took place on Tuesday night. As the rum flowed and the Bushwhacker’s whirled, the crews took the night to visit with old friends and meet new competitors – in a display of true fisherman comradery that it is known for.
The Platinum sponsors included: SatCom Direct, DEX Imaging, Costa, Florida Detroit Diesel, ZF Marine, Dometic, Fabick CAT, Ring Power CAT, Pipewelders, Garmin, Diamond Line, Sunset Marina, Shimano, HUK, HMY Yacht Sales and Lingren-Pitman. At the dinner and the Captain’s meeting the tent was full of 61 teams that consisted of the most competitive Owners, Captains and crews in the world. Coming off another “epic” bite in the White Marlin Roundup, the teams were anxious to hit the edge in hopes to take a swing at the 2017 Custom Shootout title, a position that could possibly rival all other tournament wins combined in this hemisphere. As unique as the tournament itself, the boat list truly exudes quality, top performance, and beauty.
With a nice easterly wind blowing at 15 knots, the fleet headed out on day one to take advantage of the Bahama trade winds that bring in the billfish. At the end of the first day, Spencer Yachts’ team GRATITUDE, with Captain Daniel Spencer at helm, started off their day with a white marlin release. Spencer, in a fit of strategy, continued to target each species one-by-one and returned to their slip with a grand slam to take the lead with 1000 points. In second place was THE CHASER with one blue marlin and four white marlin for 1000 point too. In third place was the defending champion LO QUE SEA with 850 points. At the end of day one there were 61 billfish caught which included 28 blue marlin, 24 white marlin and 10 sailfish!
On day two, a cold front was approaching and that brought some brisk 20 knot winds out of the southwest and slowed the fishing down as there was only 40 billfish caught. 21 blue marlin, 13 white marlin and 6 sailfish. Day two went to the WAVE PAVER with 1350 points and put them in 1st place overall. In second place overall and for day two was the GRAND SLAM with a grand slam! The ISLENA also caught a Grand Slam on day two to put them in contention with 1000 points and into 3rd place overall!
On Friday night, Captain Skip Smith honored each of the 11 guest builders with a gift from the tournament and a short story to commemorate their attendance, in which a standing ovation followed. Historically, a tournament has never been able to gather so many custom boat builders at once – an occurrence which Smith says, “I’m lucky…and grateful”.
On the last day of fishing we woke up to cooler temperatures and a northwest wind as the cold front had passed. The Captains had expected a little slower fishing, but the billfish surprised us. The tournament had already caught 101 billfish after two day. The BLUE SKY caught a blue and a white for 550 points to win day three and the COWPOKE caught the same to tie but took second on time. Yet, all eyes were on GRAND SLAM as they maintained their lead until “lines out” was called for the final time. Day three produced 39 releases, for an overall touranment total of 141 billfish caught by the 61 custom boats participants.
The game fish winners included Clint Evans of the 70’ Spencer PLANE SIMPLE with his 49.8-pound Mahi, James McNabb of the 61’ Garlington WAVE PAVER with his 40-pound Yellowfin Tuna and a 52.8-pound Wahoo took the trophy for Andy Freeman on the 57’ Dean Johnson, TOAST.
The awards banquet began with recognition of the sponsors, then the volunteers, whom without such an event could not be possible. Approximate $100,000 was raised and donated to charities such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Joe DiMaggio’s Children’s Hospital, the IGFA and more. Skip Smith through the Custom Shootout provides a vehicle to which the sportfishing community can give back year after year – a very important endowment for any sport.
Smith reviewed the milestones of the Tournament and called the winners to the stage: Top Boat and Top Crew, went to the GRAND SLAM with owner Willis Higginbotham and Captain David Grubbs with 1800 points. Top Angler went to Jr Davis on the WAVE PAVER. Second place went to Captain Danny Scotti on the 75’ Jim Smith the GINA LISA, also with 1800 points. Also on the GINA LISA was the top lady angler, Nicole Scotti with three blue marlin and 1200 points! In third place with 1,750 points was WAVE PAVER, a 61’ Garlington with Captain Russell Sinclair at the helm. What a tight finish!
With 141 billfish releases for the tournament, including several grand slams, the 61-boat fleet made quick work of “one of the best [billfish] bites on record for Abaco for the second year in a row.” Plans are already in progress for next year’s event May 2-5, 2018.
For information on the Custom Shootout and other Skip’s Tournaments, please visit www.skipstournaments.com.