Big bucks at stake in Blue Marlin World Cup
June is gone and July is here — welcome high summer! It will be hot and so should the fishing. Competitive angling comes to the fore as the fleets, both local and foreign, take on Mother Nature and her big blue marlin with other billfish species rounding out the chorus.
This Sunday sees the fishing of the worldwide Blue Marlin World Cup, an international fishing tournament that is probably the ultimate in high stakes gambling. There is a minimum $5,000 entry fee, and the sole winner takes the entire pot, less the costs of administration. With anything up to about 150 entrants, it does not take a mathematician to work out that this means that big bucks are at stake.
Bermuda is one of the hot spots, having produced a goodly proportion of the winners in the past couple of decades. Winners have also come from Kona, Hawaii, another hot spot, with the eastern Atlantic islands turning in winners as well. Just recently, the Gulf of Mexico has produced winners, but, given the geographical range of blue marlin, the winner could come from just about anywhere.
Overall, last year’s participation level was down on previous years, probably as a result of the pandemic wreaking havoc just about everywhere. The 2020 registration was only 116 boats and this was down on 2019’s 150 boats.
A spokesman for the World Cup event said that he thought that this year’s tournament would see between 125 and 150 entries, with boats in several locations waiting to the last minute to make their decision as to whether to enter or not. One of these sites is Bermuda, with a long-range forecast nothing short of diabolical for Sunday. The Gulf of Mexico is eyeing two tropical systems that may possibly be in their vicinity, and the eastern coast of the United States mainland also looked to be in for some heavy weather that would severely impact a one-day event.
Entries from the Azores and Cape Verde Islands were also down, although this probably had more to do with positioning and travel as affected by the pandemic. Still, the world is a big place and there are plenty of locations that will be fishing in earnest, each with every chance of turning up the big winner.
Also kicking off this weekend is the first leg of the Bermuda Triple Crown. This event, the Bermuda Blast Tournament, incorporates the World Cup, allowing participants to actually keep a single fish over the 500-pound minimum weight on July 4, so as to permit their entry in the international event as well as the local tournament. The Blast runs from today through Wednesday. Many of the participants will also be entered in the World Cup, so there are plenty of bragging rights up for grabs.
Next up on the agenda will be the Bermuda Big Game Classic with the registration event on Friday. As the second leg of the Triple Crown, most boats in the Blast will also be fishing that event.
So, what is the local prognosis? Well, weather apart, the billfishing has been nothing short of fabulous. Earlier this week, one visiting boat caught and released something like five blues from more than ten shots at marlin. Apparently, that was not all, as there were also white marlin involved.
Regular visitor, Just A Dog, went four for seven on blue marlin on Wednesday; missed a spearfish and caught a yellowfin tuna that tipped the scales at 112 pounds. Not a bad day’s outing!
Captain James Barnes’s Reel Lax had three shots and got one release by midday on Thursday and other boats also reported multiple shots, proving that the billfish are not only there, but are ready and willing to strike.
Offshore Lady has been most regular in catching and releasing blue this week and, like the rest of the foreign boats, looking to put one over on the locals over the next few days. Something that has been shown in the past to be more easily said than done.
While all this big-game action is going on, there will be plenty of more traditional angling for anyone who can manage to get offshore. At this time of the year, bad weather tends to move on through in a few days with the summer norm being rapidly restored thereafter. Chumming on the Banks will continue to produce some quality tunas and plenty of small game, ensuring pretty much nonstop light-tackle action.
Trolling along the edges will be slower, as might be expected in the summer, but there will be occasional wahoo and tuna that will take baits and lures. A few dolphinfish have also pleased and, while they are never particularly numerous in local waters, they are often of a nice size and are ideal for filleting and freezing.
Inshore action is also to be had from snapper, palometa and a number of non-game fish, all or which can contribute to the table fare and save on the supermarket tabs.
As the school summer holidays stretch out in front, do not rest back and let time fly by. Because fly it will and soon it will be Cup Match and then there will be a hint of autumn in the air. Take time and tide as they come, and always be willing to wet a line when circumstances allow. After all, how else can there be Tight Lines!!!