By Katie Coeckelenbergh
If it is your goal to fish and place consistently in any of the world’s best release tournaments, there is a certain set of practices that you’ll need to follow. Teams that place consistently do so not just with skill, but by adhering to a strenuous set of standards…one that doesn’t often include rod holders or cold beer during fishing hours. Here’s an insider’s look. (If you are a captain, this might be a good read for your tournament team as well). — ITB
When it’s a numbers game, it is no longer good enough to know how to hook a fish dead bait trolling on light tackle. When it’s a numbers game, you, as a team, have got to know how to hook more than one fish at a time. From an angler’s perspective, you have got to know how to move lines, where to place baits, and, most importantly, how to not get tangled with each other. In this situation, there’s nothing worse than losing your shot at a fish because you could not manage your line properly. Remember, every line and every bait has a story to tell when it comes back to the boat, and you don’t want your bait to tell the story of a San Cocho on a bite you didn’t know was happening.
To me, as an angler, there are five golden rules to follow when tournament fishing for numbers.
1. Don’t ever leave a rod unattended.
2. Move your lines properly without entanglement.
3. Always know where your bait is.
4. Keep your baits in blue water.
5. Think like a fish.
Rule One: The Importance of Attending the Rods
When you are fishing against some of the best captains and teams in the world, tournament fishing demands discipline and commitment. Some may think that fishing means putting baits in the water with a few teasers and cracking a beer on the air-conditioned mezzanine while watching the ballyhoo swim behind the boat – in the clip with the clickers on. Personally, with experience purely in Costa Rica and Baja, I hate clickers. Sailfish are some of the most finicky fish in the ocean; if a fish hits a bait and the clicker is on the reel there is resistance, however slight it may be.
There exists a chance of your fish feeling that resistance. With this risk, the probability of your fish consuming the bait, especially if it is not an aggressive bite, decreases dramatically. It is for this reason that rods need to be held at all times with the clickers off, so the angler can be ready for every single fish that comes into the spread. Otherwise – as the saying goes, you aren’t fishing, you are trolling. To fish competitively in a numbers tournament, an angler cannot afford to swing a hookup ration of below 80%. This is a lot to ask of an angler under any circumstance. To have a chance to make this happen rods must be held, clickers off. Some may even take this a step further, suggesting that the flatlines need to be fished out of the clips because the clips, like clickers, offer resistance.
Standing on rods all day, every day for multiple days of tournament fishing is physically and mentally demanding. There are several approaches that can be used to provide anglers with the breaks necessary to keep focused and fresh. One of these is perhaps the most straight forward: to rotate anglers from spot to spot, providing intermittent breaks by including more anglers than rods (five people fishing four positions, for instance).
Rule Two: Move Your Lines Properly
Without Entanglement Any good fisherman knows that fish like sailfish and white/striped marlin often travel and feed in schools. As a result, when one fish eats, chances are other fish may be eating/ready to eat as well. This is why captains turn on hooked fish, circling to try and get more bites before the release. As an angler, your job will be one of two things. If you are hooked up, keep your line tight and communicate with your captain. If not hooked up, you’ll need to move your bait to maximize chances of getting bit.
When catching a fish, it is important to keep your rod tip high and line tight in order to minimize belly in the line. Doing so will not only help you keep a good grasp on where your fish is, but it will help your captain and teammates identify the location of your fish. Knowing the location of the fish that is hooked is the first step in knowing where other baits need to be placed to maximize chances of getting bit.
The hooked fish will always make up the inside of the turn, the epicenter of the action. If fishing four lines with one angler hooked up, three baits are still fishing. Ideally if lines are moved properly, two baits are being fished in the outriggers as long lines and one as a flat/short line, prospecting the inside and working the remaining teasers.
If the inside long is the first bait bit, the outside long will be moved to the inside long position. The outside flat will be moved up to the outside long. Once the newly positioned outside long is run through the rigger clip and into position, it should be held steady and remain in its position. The angler in this position is the only one in the spread who is not prospecting. Why?
As the boat turns, the bait in this position will be moving faster than any of the other baits in the spread. Dropping the outside long back in a turn might cause it to interfere with the very important prospects of the inside long (the inside long is the bait closest to the action of the jumping fish and thus has a good shot at attracting the next bite). Think of it this way, while the inside long angler is dropping and reeling his/her bait, prospecting to simulate a stunned/injured fish, the outside long bait is swimming faster than any bait in the spread. This provides variability and, in my mind, increases the chances of exciting a fish and producing a bite.
The angler on the inside long is responsible for two things. First, getting his/her bait as close to the hooked fish as possible (without entanglement). Next on the agenda: prospecting, prospecting, prospecting. The flat line is responsible for fishing close: prospecting the remaining teasers, often both dredges and the outside chain. Where the outside long is the fastest moving bait in the spread, the inside long is the slowest. By getting your bait close to the hooked fish, dropping it for a prospect will simulate a dead/stunned/injured fish falling, and reeling will simulate a frantic fish escaping. This, if done correctly, will excite surrounding billfish and ideally result in a bite.
To me, the inside long bite is the most delicate, often wildly difficult to sense as a result of the lack of tension on the line. The inside long line in a turn is without a doubt the hardest to fish. As there is so little tension on the line, it can be hard to feel the bite – much less see the fish eat – seal the deal, and set the hook. That being said, if fished correctly it can be the most likely bite to receive in a turn.
If you are holding your rod in this position and feeling your line as you should be (Rule #1), and you think maybe you have gotten a bite, the trick is to not leave room for second guessing. If you think you’ve had a bite, come up with the drag and reel like crazy for an uncomfortably long time in order to set the hook into the fish’s mouth. It is better to be mistaken about a bite and to have not received one, than to be unsure, not react, and miss a fish. No one cares if you think you got a bite but did not. Everyone cares if it is the other way around.
Pro Tip: The outside long should not be fished too far out. In a tight turn, the bait will drift over toward the inside and it is important that it does not interfere with the inside long’s ability to prospect freely. Given this tendency – and the prospect of tangling – both long line handlers must know where their baits are at all times so as not to foul up the baits. If a flat line is the first to get hooked, and the captain begins the turn, the inside long line of the turn will end up under the hooked line nearly every time. As a result, it is crucial that when the turn begins, the inside long rigger is pulled down and moved under the hooked line to free it of tension. Once clear of the hooked line, it should then be re-installed in the outrigger to be fished correctly, prospecting in the turn.
Rule Three: Always Know Where Your Bait Is
Hooked fish can go crazy. Every scenario is different and often you cannot ascribe a formula to the action taking place in the spread – i.e. if a blue marlin bites the outside long, it will jump to the right. If you have any doubt at all on where your bait is and if you are clear of all other lines, reel up until you find your bait and can confirm its location and that it is free of entanglement.
If your inside long line is too close and can no longer prospect freely due to the location of the outside long, have the outside long move to the inside outrigger and move your long line now to the outside. Always be ready for a bite, as it is not uncommon for the outside long to get bit when it is popped out of the clip to move to the inside rigger.
Rule Four: Keep Your Baits in Blue Water
Billfish are visual hunters. There’s a reason why you search out clear, blue water to troll in – as opposed to the greenish, pea soup variety. Keeping your bait in blue water is another important aspect of thinking like a fish (see rule five). If you are fishing your bait in the wash, the sailfish/marlin isn’t going to see it. This can get tricky – especially when teaser fishing – but if the fish can’t see the bait, it can’t eat the bait. The more time you keep your bait out of the wash, the more likely you are to be successful.
Rule Five: Think Like a Fish
What is the fish seeing? What is it doing? What is it thinking? How is it acting? Is it hungry? Lazy? Uncertain? Sometimes fish come in hot, ready to eat with an aggressive bite. In this case, you just need to be ready to feed the fish. Sometimes, however, fish come in lazy. Sometimes they may just swipe at the bait, put the bait in its mouth, play with it before deciding whether or not to consume it. Every bite and every fish is different. Some of the best advice I ever received came from an old Costa Rican – a man that had grown up fishing for sailfish and had seen more than I could have imagined. As great advice often is, his was timely. It came in the beginning of my fishing learning curve, right when I was trying to learn the right technique; searching for the magic touch necessary to hook fish consistently.
To prove just how timely the advice was, as he spoke to me, I even had a fat blister on my thumb, taped up with electrical tape – the result of applying too much pressure to the reel while feeding a fish. I had just missed yet another bite. I turned to him in frustration, demanding answers to the mystery that caused my mess-ups.
In his purely Tico, Pura Vida way, he just smiled and told me, “You have to think like a fish.” To this day that advice rings true every time I’m watching the spread. What are the fish seeing? What do they hear? What are they thinking? Are they hungry? Lazy? Have they been attacking the teasers today? Hitting the longs? Are they fading? If someone misses a fish, are they eating again? These are all questions that I ask myself when fishing so that I may have the chance to foresee a bite before it happens, and frankly, often I do.
By taking in your observations as to how the fish are acting, you can sometimes predict what is to come. Knowing that fish have been lazy at the strike can help you feed them a bit longer or be that much more gentle in handling the line on the next bite. If they’re wide open and mashing everything in sight, you can just hang on and be that much more alert. Beyond the benefit to hooking fish, this can also be a confidence builder to yourself as an angler. During a highly stressful numbers competition, when every bite counts, keeping yourself and all of the anglers in a good frame of mind can make all the difference.
Prospecting and Situational Awareness in the Spread
Sailfish, like striped and white marlin, feed in groups. They surround schools of bait, herding them and taking turns picking off the stragglers. Often time they swipe with their bill to stun the bait – providing an easy feeding opportunity. It is for this reason that prospecting, the act of dropping back your bait and reeling it in, can be so effective. Any time fishing a straightaway, prospecting flat lines can increase your chances for a bite. When in a turn, either hooked up or not, the inside long can attract billfish by prospecting as well.
Let’s say a fish comes up on the right teaser, and the captain turns to keep the teaser and corresponding flat line in blue water. Instead of feeding or keeping on the teaser, however, the fish then fades. Which long line is most likely to be hit on the way out? The outside long, because when in the turn it will be nearly directly behind the inside flat. In this scenario, the fish came in on the teaser but then faded, indicating that it might be lazy when feeding. The outside long should be ready for the bite. If not received right away, the angler in this position should be ready with a deep prospect.
HAMILTON, Bermuda (July 19, 2019) – A fleet of 43 teams put on an exciting show at the weigh-ins during the Bermuda Big Game Classic from July 13 – 17, 2019. Three days of competitive tournament fishing produced high numbers of blue marlin qualifying catches, with seven fish brought to the scales surpassing 500 pounds. A total of 61 billfish were caught, including 55 blue and six white marlin.
After lines out on day three, Team Flyer totaled five blue marlin releases, scoring 2,500 points across three days of fishing to win the 2019 Bermuda Big Game Classic, with winnings totaling $122,700. Team Overproof also scored big, landing a 697-pound blue marlin on day three, winning the Day Three Largest Marlin and Winner-Take-All Largest Marlin jackpots for $129,900 in total winnings.
As the competition intensified each day, more and more 500-plus-pound blue marlin moved onto the fishing grounds. The scales at Barr’s Bay Park in Hamilton, Bermuda, were especially busy on day two of fishing. Day one recorded a 594-pound blue marlin (Auspicious); day two saw a 518-pounder (Sea Angel), 525-pounder (Sweetums), 550-pounder (Blank Check), and 616-pounder (American Beauty); and day three produced a 608-pounder (Hot Spot) and 697-pound blue marlin (Overproof). Blue marlin must weigh at least 500 pounds to be eligible for points at the Bermuda Big Game Classic.
Team Mjolnir, captained by Dave Harris, took control of the leaderboard on day one of the Bermuda Big Game Classic. The team released two blue marlin, for a total of 1,000 points, to earn the Day One Daily Billfish Release Jackpot based on time. Angler Jim Smith caught both blue marlin.
Teams Reel Steel, the winners of the 2019 Bermuda Billfish Blast, was close behind. Reel Steel, captained by Jason Parker, also released two blue marlin for a total of 1,000 points, but they caught their fish later in the day. Anglers Mike and Marc Verzaleno caught the two blues.
Angler Joe Rahman hooked a large blue marlin aboard his boat Auspicious, captained by Edward “Cookie” Murray, on day one of the Bermuda Big Game Classic. After he fought the fish to the boat, the team recognized they had a fish that was eligible to weigh. Back at the docks, their fish weighed 594 pounds, winning the Day One Largest Marlin Jackpot and putting them in the lead for the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot.
The top two release boats on day two were Flyer and Reel Captivating, with each team releasing two blue marlin for 1,000 points each. Reel Captivating, captained by Travis Ralph, utilized angler Wayne Jenkins to catch both fish. Flyer, captained by Bryce Garvey, won the Day Two Daily Billfish Release Jackpot based on time.
Four different teams caught a qualifying blue marlin on day two, including American Beauty, captained by Travis Rolan; Blank Check, captained by Danny Hearn; Sweetums, captained by James “Pete” Rae; and Sea Angel, captained by BC Angel. American Beauty’s Aaron Fenn caught a 616-pounder; Blank Check’sDan Doyle Sr. caught a 550-pounder, Sweetums’ Colton Resor caught a 525-pounder, and Sea Angel’s Austin Angel caught a 518-pounder. Team American Beauty’s fish won the Day Two Largest Marlin Jackpot and shot them into the lead for the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot.
After two days of fishing, Flyer and Reel Steel both had 1,500 points with three blue marlin releases. Close behind, American Beauty had 1,116 points, Blank Check totaled 1,050 points, and Sweetumsscored 1,025 points.
On the final day of the 2019 Bermuda Big Game Classic teams knew there were still plenty of large blue marlin patrolling the banks off Bermuda. They knew this because they had seen the big fish come into their spreads, even if the fish didn’t commit to their lures.
Four different teams scored 1,000 points on day three of fishing. Never Enough, captained by Albert Miller; Flyer; Hit N Run, captained by Dave Fields; and Big Deal, captained by Brian Rabbit, each released two blue marlin. Team Never Enough won the Day Three Daily Billfish Release Jackpot based on time.
Teams Hot Spot and Overproof, both local Bermuda teams, boated big blue marlin relatively early in the day. Each team decided to continue fishing for the rest of day three in search of more points. Back at the docks, Hot Spot, captained by Ricky Sousa Jr, weighed a 608-pound blue marlin. Andy Periera was the angler. Overproof’s blue marlin topped out at 697 pounds, caught by angler Jason Friedman. Overproof, captained by Peter Rans, won the Day Three Largest Marlin Jackpot and the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot. Last year, in 2018, Overproof caught a 930-pound blue marlin to win the Day Three Largest Marlin Jackpot and the Overall Largest Marlin Jackpot.
FIRST PLACE TEAM
Team Flyer, captained by Bryce Garvey, scored 2,500 points to win First Place Team, Day Two Release Points Jackpot, First Place Overall Release Points Jackpot, the Marlin Magazine Manufacturers Cup for Merritt Boat & Engine Works, and an invitation to the Offshore World Championship. Mark Woodbury earned top angler for his 2,500 points. Total winnings were $122,700. Prizes and awards included VanMark custom winner pendants, YETI cooler, King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits, AFTCO gloves, Big T lure and Release Marine trophy. Team Flyer includes Captain Bryce Garvey, owners Kevin and Teresa Jaffe, Dylan Jaffe, Greg Axton, Gotzon Otxoa, Michael Tarmey, Mark Woodbury and Michael Overton.
OVERALL LARGEST MARLIN JACKPOT
Team Overproof, captained by Peter Rans, won the Day-Three Largest Marlin Jackpot and Winner-Take-All Largest Marlin Jackpot with their 697-pound blue marlin, caught by angler Jason Friedman. Total winnings were $129,900. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Overproof includes Captain Peter Rans, Leslie Rans, Leesa Friedman, Jason Friedman, Morgan Friedman, Brooks Rans, Martin Estes, Michael Batista and Morgan Outerbridge.
SECOND PLACE TEAM
Team Reel Steel, captained by Jason Parker, scored 2,000 points to win Second Place Team and Second Place Overall Release Points Jackpot. Total earnings were $54,960. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Reel Steel includes Captain Jason Parker, Mike Verzaleno, Marc Verzaleno, Kayla Verzaleno, Drake Cropper, Charles Coats and John Cantiveri.
THIRD PLACE TEAM
Team Waste Knot, captained by Mike Tickle, scored 1,700 points to win Third Place Team, Third Place Overall Release Points Jackpot and Top Junior Angler for Luke Fletcher. Total winnings were $32,340. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Waste Knot includes Captain Mike Tickle, Gary Fletcher, Rocky Hardison, Chase Pake, Luke Fletcher, and Thompson Brown.
DAY TWO LARGEST MARLIN JACKPOT
Team American Beauty, captained by Travis Rolan, scored a 616-pound blue marlin to win the Day Three Largest Marlin Jackpot, caught by Aaron Fenn. Total winnings include $24,600. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team American Beauty includes Captain Travis Rolan, Mike Posillico, Corey Hexter, Alan Davis, Roderick Haines, Kayla Milam, Jason Richard Peer and Daniel Strode.
DAY ONE LARGEST MARLIN JACKPOT
Team Auspicious, captained by Edward “Cookie” Murray, weighed a 594-pound blue marlin to win the Day One Largest Marlin Jackpot, caught by owner Joe Rahman. Total winnings include $24,600. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Auspicious includes Captain Edward “Cookie” Murray, John Copeland, Carl Copeland, David Soares, Kevin Stafford, Mark Brochu, John Given and Everett Petronio.
DAY ONE RELEASE POINTS JACKPOT
Team Mjolnir, captained by Dave Harris, won the Day One Release Points jackpot from two blue marlin catches by Jim Smith. Total winnings include $23,400. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Mjolnir includes Captain Dave Harris, owner and angler Jim Smith, Darrin Isaacs and Tim Smith.
DAY THREE BILLFISH RELEASE POINTS JACKPOT
Team Never Enough, captained by Albert Miller, won the Day Three Release Points jackpot from two blue marlin catches by Walter Shikany Jr. Total winnings include $23,400. Prizes and awards included King Sailfish Mounts trophies, Steve Goione artwork, Soundview Millworks trophies, Bacardi spirits and Big T lures. Team Never Enough includes Captain Albert Miller, owner and angler Walter Shikany Jr., Marc Hopper. Nick Favata, and Ian Poteat.
Angler Laura Russell, aboard Hit N Run, caught a 34-pound wahoo to win the largest gamefish. Total winnings were $6,450. Team Hit N Run includes Byron Russell, Laura Russell, Mike Walsh, Clark Beaty, Evan Jones, Stevie Ehrber, Barrett McMilliam and Greg Lulemon.
TOP LADY ANGLER
Elaine Jones, owner of Mama Who, won top lady angler with 1,000 points from two blue marlin releases. Team Mama Who includes Captain Wil Thornhill, Elaine Jones, Robert Davies, Charles Lewis, Joe West and Sales De La Bar.
As competitors headed offshore Monday for the start of the 61st annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, a final review of all entries confirmed 184 boats were entered and set to compete for a RECORD PURSE of $2,869,050. The previous Big Rock record — set last year — was $2,560,925.
By the end of the week, anglers racked up 156 releases: 83 blue marlin, 54 white marlin, 17 sailfish and two spearfish. A total of 14 blue marlin were boated and weighed, resulting in a 91% overall release rate. DOC FEES and crew scored the 61st release of the 61st Big Rock to win the tournament’s special $6,100 prize. Competitors battled for $284,750 in weekly release prize money and $282,625 in daily release prizes! The Dolphin Winner-Take-All category reached a record $361,250 payout after increasing the level to $2,500 earlier this year!
TOP DOG became “Top of the World” on Day 6 when it landed a record breaking 914-pound blue marlin to WIN the 61st Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament! TOP DOG captain Ryan Knapp of Ocean City, Md., and angler Todd Dickerson, fought their catch for more than five hours and then needed an additional 90 minutes to get the 15-foot fish partially into their 60-foot Buddy Cannady. Dickerson’s catch crushed the Big Rock’s previous record of 831 pounds set in 2000 by the SUMMERTIME BLUES. [Read more…]
(George Town, Cayman Islands) The Cayman Islands’ first-ever Cayman Billfish Rundown awarded more than US$260,000 in cash prizes to 14 teams hailing from both local and international shores. Held May 14-17 on Grand Cayman, 41 teams registered in the sportfishing tournament, presented by Hurley’s Media Ltd., Dart Enterprises and The Residences at Seafire.
Managing Director of Hurley’s Media Ltd. Randy Merren said he was pleased with the outcome of the tournament. “It’s incredible to see Cayman Billfish Rundown come to life after a year of planning and preparations. We are grateful for the support from the local and international participants, and based on the feedback received, we expect even higher numbers next year,” Mr. Merren said.
Carey Chen brought his experience and expertise as the Official Artist and Tournament Ambassador, taking news of the tournament to global waters. “I’ve been fishing the Cayman Islands since Million Dollar month in the 80s. The offshore fishing is less than a mile from land in the clearest water you can imagine,” Mr. Chen said. “Cayman Billfish Rundown in its debut is one of the most organized tournaments I have been to and this will only get better,” he said.
The winning team, ‘Uno Mas’ from Florida, captained by Brooks Smith, released three billfish to win the top prize of US$100,000 for the Most Billfish Release Points and the Captain’s Award of US$10,000 presented to the Captain of the Boat with the Most Release Points. The team also entered seven additional categories that flexed its billfish skills and rewarded Uno Mas with additional payouts of more than US$16,000, making its total winnings for the tournament close to US$130,000.
In second place, ‘Happy Days’ from the Cayman Islands, took home US$35,000 for the second most billfish releases, as well as an additional US$2,250 for the smallest boat with the most billfish releases. Small boats were considered under 36 feet Length Over All (LOA).
Third place for most billfish release was tied, with seven teams earning equal points through catching and releasing a Blue Marlin. Down to time stamps, ‘Suntide’ took home third place and US$20,000, inching ahead of ‘Lazy Lady’ and ‘Trading Time’ by releasing their Marlin 10 and 20 minutes earlier respectively.
Angler Shaun Bodden from ‘Cool Change’ hooked the heaviest yellowfin tuna, weighing 77.2 lbs., which awarded his team US$10,000 from the guaranteed payout and an additional US$10,000 for entering and winning the ‘Tuna Doubler’ category.
The heaviest wahoo was caught by Baron Jacob from ‘Ecks-Change’ weighing 39.2 lbs. The heaviest dolphinfish was caught by Nathan Ebanks from ‘Reeladdiction’. Both teams won US$10,000 and each team kindly donated U$1,500 to the Alex Panton Foundation, the charity the tournament chose to support. Anglers were encouraged to donate a portion of their winnings to the Alex Panton Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to improve the mental health of the Cayman Islands’ children and young adults.
Forty-one boats entered the tournament with 230 registered anglers, including 41 international anglers and 28 females. Between them, they released twelve Blue Marlins, one White Marlin and one sailfish. A total of 14 yellowfin tuna, five wahoo and six dolphinfish were brought to the scale.
“The Cayman Islands as a jurisdiction of choice has so much to offer, and this tournament is no different as it highlights the high professional standard of sport fishing,” said Mr. Merren. “Billfish in particular hold a special place in Cayman Islands sportfishing and for me personally, it was great to bring the action so close to our shores,” he continued.
The tournament also supports responsible fishing and teamed up with Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, the School of Marine Sciences at University of Maine, and The Gulf of Maine Research Institute in a Tag and Release Program. Mr. Chen said, “Of all the islands I have travelled to, Cayman takes the most pride in its reefs and ocean by protecting it from pollution and overfishing.” The tag and release programme encourages participants to tag and release undersized dolphinfish, yellowfin tuna, skipjack and bigeye tuna, and ocean whitetip sharks. ‘Conched Out’, captained by Colin Wilson earned the most release points and were awarded with an Ulysse Nardin CI Limited Edition Watch valued at US$10,000.
The awards dinner and closing ceremony took place on Friday evening at The Crescent in Camana Bay and included a live performance and an impressive display of fireworks. Sponsors, including: Dart Enterprises, Esso, Ulysse Nardin and Island Heritage handed out trophies and checks to winning teams. During the closing ceremony other sponsors were also thanked for their involvement in the tournament including: Chivas Regal; Michelob Ultra; Parkers; Automotive Art; Suzuki; Mikes Ice; Ogier; Shipping Registry and Pro Yacht.
Helping with the presentation of awards, Nicole Spenc, a sportfishing icon from Florida, also thanked sponsors and tournament organizers for welcoming her to the Cayman Islands. “The people, the island, everything is so welcoming and I am just blown away! I can’t wait to come back!” she said. Nicole writes an adventure blog and is popular across YouTube and Instagram.
Reflecting on the tournament, Mr. Merren expressed gratitude to participants and sponsors. “Thank you to those who participated and to the team at Hurley’s Media, Dart Enterprises and The Residences at Seafire for a successful inaugural event. My hope is that next year we have even more participants, increase the prize pools, and perhaps even can break the Blue Marlin record,” he said.
Mr. Chen also said he’s excited for next year’s event. “Looking forward to next year with more boats and even bigger jackpots. I am proud to call Cayman my second home.”
NOW OPEN TO ALL ANGLERS FISHING FROM HATTERAS YACHTS
$1.115 MILLION IN PRIZE MONEY AT STAKE!
NEW BERN, N.C.– MAY 6, 2019 – Hatteras Yachts, a world-leading builder of convertible sportfishing and luxury motor yachtsfrom 45 to 105 feet, is pleased to announce that the 2ndAnnual Hatteras Cup Million Dollar Sportfish Challenge kicked off on May 1, 2019. The competition, which runs through December 31, 2019, is open exclusively to anglers fishing onboard a Hatteras yacht, regardless of model or year, who register in advance atwww.hatterasyachts.com/hatterascup.
The Hatteras Cup $1 Million Grand Prize for Heaviest Atlantic Blue Marlin will be awarded to the registered angler or team that catches an Atlantic Blue Marlin from a Hatteras yacht during an official billfish tournament that exceeds the current IGFA All-Tackle World Record. For the official Hatteras Cup Rules, please visit https://www.hatterasyachts.com/media/3362/2019-hatteras-cup-rules.pdf
If no registered Hatteras Cup participant wins the Million Dollar Grand Prize by Dec. 31, 2019, then $50,000 will be awarded for the Heaviest Atlantic Blue Marlin caught from a Hatteras during an official billfish tournament that was entered by a registered Hatteras Cup participant.
Prizes totaling $65,000 will be awarded to registered anglers in two other Divisions: Game Fish – Heaviest Tuna, Wahoo, Dolphin, Snapper, Grouper – and Catch & Release (multi-species). Participants competing for prizes in these Divisions do not need to be fishing in an official tournament when they make their catch.
The Hatteras Cup awards will be presented at the Miami Yacht Show in Miami, Fla., in February 2020.
“Last year’s Inaugural Hatteras Cup was a great success with 245 anglers competing across the globe,” said Hatteras Yachts President and CEO Kelly Grindle. “We are looking forward to even more owners, anglers and teams to participate this year and compete for prize money, as well as bragging rights for themselves and their boats..”
The tournament is easy to enter—just visit hatterasyachts.com/hatterascup.
The 2019 Hatteras Cup Divisions and prizes are as follows:
De-Bait-Able takes the Win in a Field of 39 Boats
The 56th Annual Buccaneer Cup Sailfish Tournament was held January 23 to 26, 2019 in the Palm Beaches. This year an additional fishing day was added to the format giving teams the choice to fish any two. With two days of near ideal conditions, and a much-anticipated bite pushing into the area from the north, teams were rewarded with steady fishing. After the entire field of top competition teams taking a lay day on Thursday, all 39 boats hustled to release 180 sailfish on Friday and Saturday, The prize, a purse in excess of $352,000, the prestigious and beautiful Buccaneer Cup trophies for the top three boats and anglers, and bragging rights for placing in one of the oldest and most enduring billfish tournaments in the world. Add to that the knowledge that the tournament proceeds benefits the Recreational Fishing Alliance and The Billfish Foundation, there was a lot at stake.
Courtney Bowden, currently in her sixth year at the reigns of the Buc Cup, did a spectacular job running one of the best organized and classiest billfish tournaments on the coast. Along with her team of volunteers, including staff from TBF and RFA, she has made the Buc one of the most exciting and talked about tournaments of the season. The comradery displayed by the teams in attendance proved to everyone that the Buc is most definitely back!
The 56th Buccaneer Cup opened with the Captains meeting on Wednesday held outdoors at the recently completed Tiki Bar at the Sailfish Marina. The meeting was sponsored by the Viking Yacht Company and HMY Yacht Sales. Robert “Fly” Navarro emceed the meeting and went through the rules which included a few changes in 2019 to give the teams more flexibility and fishing options. The meeting included raffle items provided by the long list of tournament sponsors included such as items as Engel Coolers filled with goodies, Costa del Mar sunglasses, Maxel Reels, Tsunami rods and lures, Caza Offshore knife kits and gear donated by Atlantic Marine Electronics (AME), AFTCO, Hi-Liner Offshore Tackle, Grand Slam Sport Fishing, Outrigger Yacht Products, and Mustad.
The competition teams made the unanimous decision to lay on Day One, opting to fish Friday and Saturday which, based on the forecast, held the best conditions of the three available fishing days.
Day Two opened with grey skies, and light east winds and a strong bite with 14 sails being released within the first hour. Martha D called in the first release of the tournament just 17 minutes after lines in at 8 AM. The live baiters seemed to have the edge as Old No. 7, and De-Bait-Able took an early lead, but dead baiters Polarizer and Krazy Salts also made runs to claim the top spot for the day and the Calcutta dailies. By lines out, Old No. 7 racked up 10 releases on live bait for 2,000 points, followed closely by De-Bait-Able just 200 points off the leader. The top dead baiters filled out the leader board with Polarizer and Krazy Salts in the 3rd and 4th spots aided by a late bite that saw six releases in the final 30 minutes of fishing before lines out at 3:30.
Day Three saw a drop in the wind and accompanying slowdown in the action, but the live baiters continued to push their advantage. Based on radio chatter, fishing was best in a small area to the north of Jupiter Inlet. De-Bait-Able, with Capt. KJ Zeher at the helm, put on an astonishing clinic the final day amassing a total of 4,200 points by lines out bringing their two-day total up to 21 sailfish releases and leaving the competition in their wake.
Tournament staff utilized Reel Time Apps for accurate, up-to-the-minute scoring that was available to teams and tournament enthusiasts by simply downloading the free app. The program was linked to the official radio room computer scoring team and updated minute-by-minute allowing teams to follow the leader board throughout each fishing day. At tournament’s end the radio logs were matched against the boat’s catch logs and Reel Time Apps and then verified by video confirmation.
The winning boats were De-Bait-Able on top, Old No. 7 securing second place, with Sandman just 200 points behind in third. The competition was a nail biter between the top boats and was capped by a great run by Wrapped-Up breaking out of the pack in the final hour of the tournament trying valiantly to catch the leaders. In addition to several Calcutta categories, Old No. 7 also won the Charity Calcutta which includes an entry fee to the 2019 Buc Cup. They have been a regular in the tournament the past few years and no doubt the crew will be back next year trying to top their second-place finish.
The top angler trophies went to Bill Bryan on the Old No. 7 in first, beating Chris Weaks on the De-Bait-Able in second by time (both had 1,400 points), and Sandra MacMillan on the Sandman taking third as well as the Top Female Angler, which was also a tie broken by earliest catch.
The Buccaneer Cup Tournament cash award for the Most Points on Live Bait ($10,000) went to the De-Bait-Able team, which pocketed $110,800. Most Points on Dead Bait ($10,000) went to Polarizer, the team receiving a check for $66,610 in total purse for their win. The InTheBite Top Captain loving cup was awarded to Captain KJ Zeher, who skippered the De-Bait-Able to victory.
New for 2019 and created in memory of a long-time participant in the Buccaneer Cup, the Walter Johnson Award trophy for the largest meat fish went to the Bertram 61 for their 34-pound dolphin landed on Day 2. Pat Healey explained that the award was created as a posthumous honor that recognized his love of catching meat fish, and for his contributions to the development of the MTU engine, which has become the standard in sportfishing boats, during his tenure as the top executive at Johnson & Towers.
The awards banquet was held at the Sailfish Club of Florida and sponsored by MTU Marine Power, Florida Detroit Diesel Allison, and Johnson and Towers. The awards dinner was emceed by Robert “Fly” Navarro. Pat Healey, President of Viking Yachts and member of the RFA Board of Directors, presented Ellen Peel of the Billfish Foundation with a $5,000 check to aid the organization in its ongoing efforts to advance the science used for billfish management and assessment.
This event would not be possible without the generous support of its sponsors including MTU Diesel, Florida Detroit Diesel Allison, Johnson & Towers, Viking Yachts, HMY Yacht Sales, Yamaha Outboards, Jupiter Beach Spa & Resort, Contender Boats, American Custom Yachts, Akzo Nobel-Interlux Paint, Seakeeper, Garmin, Cummins Marine Power, American Venture Boats, Bahama Boat Works, Christi/Travelers Insurance, Atlantic Marine Electronics, American Fishing Wire/Hi-Seas, Release Marine, Viking Service Center, The Buccaneer Marina & Resort, Reel Time Apps, Sailfish Marina, and Outrigger Marine Products.
We look forward to seeing all our teams and more next year for the prestigious 57th Buccaneer Cup where we can make sportfishing history again.
ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys – Captain Marty Lewis of Marathon, Florida, led his team aboard Main Attraction to the overall win in the 29th annual Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament that ended Jan. 27.
Team anglers Mark Busch, Daniel Roberts, Clint Rodamer and Shelby Bentley, all residents of Marathon, together released 10 sails in the best time for top honors.
Team HellReyzer captured second place with 10 sails, with Captain Ryan Alexander of Cutler Bay, Florida, at the helm. Anglers included Rey Acosta, Mike Acosta, Travis Upchurch and Jorge Corzo, of Pinecrest, Florida.
Team Indigenous earned third place honors with nine sailfish releases. Islamorada’s Captain Travis Dickens led anglers Wade Stafford, Coleman Wherly, Mike Varney and Mark Toledo, from Merritt Island, Melbourne, Key Largo and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, respectively.
Varney also captured the tournament’s grand champion angler award for his five releases.
Cheeca Presidential Tournament director Liz Hill reported that 73 anglers aboard 19 boats released 82 sailfish during the two-day fishing contest.
The “Presidential” is the final leg of the three-tournament Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship, which includes the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament and the Islamorada Fishing Club Tournament.
Team Last Dance totaled 25 releases over the series’ three events to be named overall Gold Cup Series champion. According to organizers, the team was awarded the first-place prize of $24,000.