Current standings for Day 1 of the Viking Yachts Key West Challenge:
View the full Leaderboard here:
Current standings for Day 1 of the Viking Yachts Key West Challenge:
View the full Leaderboard here:
Did you know that a US-registered vessel holding a federally issued HMS permit must comply with US rules and regulations, no matter where it fishes? While traveling beyond the bounds of the U.S. and into waters of other nations may give you a sense of being unburdened by fishing regulations, this is not the case. Just as the IRS taxes income generated by Americans regardless as to where in the world the income was derived, the rules and regulations of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) follow permit-holding vessels no matter where they fish.
If the vessel you are fishing on has a U.S. federal HMS Angling Permit, compliance to U.S. federal law and regulations follows you and the boat. HMS stands for highly migratory species—such as marlin, tuna, wahoo and swordfish. Whether the nation in whose waters you are fishing does or does not have size or daily limits on billfish or other species, vessels with US permits are bound by US regulations attached to the permit (101” ljfl blue marlin, for instance).
Big Picture: Potential Consequences to Your US Tournament Fishing
The arm of the National Marine Fisheries Service is long with regard to highly migratory species. HMS species are governed by national law and by international agreements. The U.S. is obligated (via annual treaty negotiations and U.S. law) to regulate and manage the landing of fish in accordance with agreed-upon requirements. International fisheries management agreements divide catch among the many nations that harvest fish in the Atlantic. Therefore, NMFS is required to not only report landing information of fish caught in the US, but also those caught by US boats fishing internationally.
This is an important consideration. Not only do the permit constraints pertain to the individual vessel, but the actions of US vessels fishing abroad have the potential to impact fishing access in the US. As a group US sportfishing vessels with federal permits are restricted to landing no more than 250 Atlantic marlin (blue and white combined) each year. This 250-fish limit is the level that was negotiated by the US delegation to ICCAT (the international treaty that manages fisheries in the Atlantic). If the 250 Atlantic marlin limit is exceeded, all billfishing in US waters, whether in a tournament or not, will be required to follow an all release format.
If the number of marlin landed by US vessels significantly exceeds the annual limit, the all-release format could be extended for more than 12 months. Possible repercussions to vessels (captains, owners, mates and anglers included), who land or are responsible for landing an Atlantic marlin, say in the Dominican Republic, Bahamas or elsewhere, which counts against the 250 limit could be painful.
If you think there is no way the NMFS will know what Atlantic marlin you land or help land outside U.S. waters, well, think again. With technology and social media, it is often surprising how much information is shared and posted about fishing exploits each day. One successful day’s social media post may be determined by the HMS Office to be a reflection of how many fish are landed on an average day. This may be used by the NMFS to determine when the 250-marlin threshold is met.
Recently the US NMFS made significant staffing investments to more thoroughly review websites, Facebook posts and tournament news. The goals of this investment is to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of regulations, including the Atlantic marlin landing limit numbers.
A Special Note to Boat Owners
If you enjoy fishing and winning big money tournaments in the US, please share this information with your captain and crew. Landing Atlantic marlin – or handing a hooked marlin from your boat to a local fisherman – may eliminate your access to big fish, big money tournaments in the states. Beyond the potential loss in tournament access, there exists the possibility for serious consequences for violating US regulations when fishing outside the US.
Reported landings of marlin in the Dominican Republic by crews on US vessels, through transfer of marlin to local pangas, has increased the number of landed Atlantic marlin exponentially. Great scrutiny is likely underway.
The best insurance for retaining the opportunity to win big money, big fish Atlantic marlin tournaments is to catch, resuscitate and release billfish you catch while fishing in other nations’ waters. The U.S. requires all U.S. tournaments with billfish categories to report landed fish; you can bet cross-checking the reported numbers to postings is a norm. Protect your option to win the big purse at home by helping to keep the number of Atlantic marlin landed to a minimum.
The End Game – An Expert Breakdown
By Jarad “Dingo” Boshammer
Whether it be tournaments, record fishing or straight up fishing for fun, sportfishing is a team sport. When all goes according to plan and the time comes for the end game, the wireman’s job begins. The approach and techniques best applied to the leader depend on the species, tackle, and line class. The approach also depends on the goal of the encounter—whether a release, tag or gaff shot is the end game.
Photos courtesy: Kelly Dalling Fallon
A Wireman’s Supplies
Sunglasses are a must before engaging in any sort of leadering! I don’t care how much saltwater is on my glasses, they never come off when I’m on the leader. A couple guys I know have had a glass lens shatter, leaving shards of glass in their eyes. For this reason, I prefer polycarbonate. Footwear is also important. While you might get by without it for sailfish on light leaders (it is still a good idea), when it comes to gaffing fish on heavy leaders it is 100% necessary.
Another necessity is a tool belt. At the bare minimum you’ll need a release knife. You should never cut one off with an open blade – one head shake or wave and the result can be messy (slashed arms or thighs have happened). I always have an open bladed knife on my belt – it could turn into a backup release knife in an emergency only. Having two mates is always ideal and coaching each other is important. Regardless of skill level, I will always ask the other mate to carry the release knife in the center of their back. It is crucial that a release tool may be reached with either hand when you are on the leader.
The boat’s impact on leadering technique
My style of leadering will change depending on the boat. Most Aussie boats are in the 40-50-foot range. Australian boats have a minimum gunnel height that is required for surveyed vessels. The height minimum is relatively high. My knees generally fit below the covering board and touch the sides of the hull easily. Thighs should be placed against and below the gunnels for added security and leverage. This is the ideal situation for doing serious work.
When boats get bigger – with wider covering boards – I can’t find the hull side effectively. Without a hard surface for my knees, I am much more reliant on footwork for leverage. The sleek design of most modern boats causes the covering boards to hit right on, or slightly above, the ball of the knee. This allows for a solid contact but leaves nothing for you to tuck under and press your thighs against.
In the event of a bad wrap, swallow your pride and let everyone know. Once that’s done, tuck in deep. Even 550-pound leader will usually break before anything serious happens if you get deep, below the gunnels and lock on. For this reason, it’s important to know your boat and cockpit well.
It’s also important to know your tackle. Know the limits of every crimp, knot and connection. Crimpers should be dialed in and every connection broken on a line testing machine. When gear is being pushed to the limits, it pays to have confidence and know your gear inside out.
In the event that a fish goes under, a drastic decision needs to be made. In some cases, it is better to hang on rather than to dump. If your leader is much heavier than the main line, it could be better to have the stronger of the two make contact with the boat. If the fish makes a sprint, goes under the boat and you dump, the captain needs to use the outside engine in reverse and throw the wheel to the fish. Trying to drive forward out of this situation will run the main line over almost every time. It is crucial to reverse and spin away from the main line and leader putting the fish of your bow.
Fish Behavior: The effect of the fight on your approach
Paying attention to the fish during a fight is very important. The behavior can give an idea of hook placement – or lack thereof. Taking photos of jumping fish can also help. When zooming in and seeing good hook placement, my confidence and the drag both go up.
What signs in a fight tell you to be careful? A couple indicators are radical head shakes or abnormal behavior. These could be signs of a hootered fish or where the hook point has hit a sensitive bony position at the base of the bill. In this case your best option is light drag, staying behind the fish and using gentle hands on the leader. Try to stay low; don’t encourage the fish to jump.
A fish that has done nothing at all is another concern, especially on bait. This often means the hook has not found a home and it is only a matter of time before the fish will gag out the bait. In this case, stay behind the fish, use light drag, be gentle on the leader and pray the fish does all the wrong things.
Heavy leader, big fish
Pulling hard on leader is a blast – making fish jump and do crazy stuff is what I love. This, however, is not always the right practice. When getting close enough for a photo release, tag or kill shot during a tournament, the ability to take the leader smoothly and take wraps without the fish noticing is a great skill to have.
On heavy leader with big fish, the back wrap is a must-have in your arsenal. When taking a back wrap, you would start by pulling the leader down with one hand and wrapping with the other. The hand taking a back wrap will be thumb down, with the leader hitting the outside of your hand (nearest your pinky finger).
When the leader breaks over the outside of your hand, take it with all four fingers and rotate your hand until your thumb is on top. With the other hand bring the leader between your thumb and forefinger. This completes the first wrap and then the standard technique is required for the second wrap. This technique allows you to make your first wrap (instead of taking it against the pressure of the fish). The back wrap technique known very well by any heavy tackle expert especially when large marlin or giant bluefin tuna are involved.
Standard wraps are taken after you pull the leader down with one hand – with the other palm up and thumb out. The leader should hit between thumb and forefinger first. Start taking your hand up and then rotate outwards, bringing it down in a circular motion. Try not to take large windmill-like wraps, focusing rather on tight wraps with equal pressure. Take a second wrap on the same hand as soon as possible. If the fish is digging, use your spare hand over the one with wraps and pull with two hands. Then use the spare hand to do the same thing.
Taking wraps, however, is not always the first move. If the fish is up high and you’re backing down fast, the best thing to do is hand-over-hand, anticipating when the weight will come. Take your first set of wraps when the time is right. Often that time is when the boat is slowed down or when you are already close enough to the fish.
When preparing for wraps, keep your arms bent with your hands low and close to your body. This will provide a shock absorber, buffering against leaders breaking, hooks pulling or getting straightened. If the fish jumps on the leader, you’ll have a little give and might not need to dump the line. There is nothing worse than dumping a fish and the double line not even leaving the rod tip. That being said, hanging onto smaller fish too long and flipping them over is very dangerous.
Anglers should back off the drag on heavy tackle as soon as you have wraps. If you have to dump the leader and the drag is up high, the pressure on the reel will go from nothing to a lot in a split second. This can reef anglers out of the chair or turn them into frogs – with knees behind their ears. With wind-on leaders, the most common mistake is cranking a mate’s hand up and trapping wraps on the glove. The lighter drag, in this case, will enable the wireman to pull his hand down to a comfortable and safe height. Be careful, however, not to backlash the reel when doing so.
The Kill Shot
Securing a trophy fish with gaff is one of the most challenging in most events in sportfishing. When preparing to harvest a fish, safety comes first— no matter what. No matter how big the fish may be or how much money is on the line, it isn’t worth losing an eye ball or joining the underwater wireman’s club. Accidents can happen to anyone and we all must have respect for the fish and the ocean. When it comes to getting hurt (or worse), the first saying I was taught was, “There are those who have and there are those who have not, yet.”
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July 21-26, 2015
Port O’Connor, Texas
Great night at the Lone Star Saloon. Total purse $964,900 with 51 boats playing the pots! Will post some pics in the morning. Fun time.
Tournament website Click Here