Marlin hunters triumph off Cape Verde Islands
Big boats, big bucks and big seas all combined for a lively week on the briny. The big story was that the Blue Marlin World Cup was fished with varying degrees of success across the globe, with the fishing, weather conditions and results spread throughout the 120-odd participants, which made for a bumper pot at stake.
Bermudian-based boats all tried their hand at locating a full-sized blue marlin, but, despite good numbers here, it was not to be. The local weather had contributed to fewer boats participating, but there is no doubt that the deep-blue ocean water around the Island got a good working-over.
As the day wore on and the fishing ended for locations east of Bermuda came word that a fish was on its way to the weigh station in the Cape Verde Islands. That heightened tensions while the half of the world that still had fishing time left collectively held their breath waiting to see what the opposition would amount to. And when it came, it was awesome. The boat Blue Hunter had done just that and set the bar at a whopping 1,046 pounds. Such a beast even gave the fabled Kona coast of Hawaii food for thought and when the fat lady sang later that night, it was all over with due celebrations on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Although the World Cup was effectively a bust for Bermuda this year, the Bermuda Blast, the first leg of the Bermuda Triple Crown, was anything but. There were no qualifying fish caught, but there was plenty of action, and Captain Michael Farren’s Just A Dog surged into a commanding lead with 2,100 points scored from five marlin releases on that first day — four blue and one white. The closest competition was from Sea Striker with just two blue marlin releases for 1,000 points.
Although the lead looked to be unassailable, it was just another of those flashes that make the world of big-game angling so exciting and so unpredictable.
The excitement grew on Day 2 when Wolverine caught and released three blue marlin and headed for the dock with a weighable fish on board. Great was the denouement when the fish failed to make the minimum 500-pound weight requirement despite the measurement predicting it to be well over that weight. The measurements can be plugged into a mathematical formula, which has proved pretty accurate — to within about 10 per cent — at estimating the weight of marlin and tuna. This resulted in negative penalty points and removed the boat from a competitive position, leaving Just A Dog still in command.
Day 3 saw a sea change in more ways than one. Captain Robert Hollingsworth’s Osceola had finished the second day with three blue marlin releases and would add two more on the final day, moving Osceola into top place with 2,500 points, ahead of the two-day leader Just A Dog. And things would stay that way with top honours going to Osceola in first, Just A Dog in second and Captain Bull Tolson’s Sea Toy sliding into third with 2,000 points.
In the individual standings, the High Point Angler was Chase Farrens with 2,100 points, the High Point Lady Angler was Meredith Huddle, on Builder’s Choice with 1,000 points and Mark Outerbridge on board Paradise One claimed the Biggest Gamefish Category with a 62.8-pound yellowfin tuna.
The Blast was a great success with a total of 25 teams comprising 141 anglers catching 54 billfish — 49 blue marlin and five white marlin — over the three days of the event. Interspersed with the releases were many, many reports of hookups, followed by reports of pulled hooks or other means by which the fish made good their escapes. Such great action helped to maintain the island’s reputation as a hotspot for Atlantic marlin action.
Today the fleet is again in action, as it is the first day of the Bermuda Big Game Classic. This second leg of the Triple Crown sees the Blast competitors plus others all searching for glory and the cash prizes at stake. Although the Blast points are carried forward for the Triple Crown, no one is under any illusion that the standings can change almost by the minute and, with an improving weather forecast, the quality of the fishing is expected to remain at least as good as it has been. Anyone wishing to follow the action in real time may do so on the internet at https://bbg21.catchstat.com.
While the big news is all about the billfishing activities that are taking place these few weeks, the fishing took a bit of a back seat earlier this week when weather and sea conditions were less than conducive for most local anglers more bent on catching wahoo, tuna or something to stink up the kitchen.
Improving conditions see a return to the halcyon days of summer and plenty of opportunities for reef and inshore fishing, as well as the much vaunted chumming for tunas on the Banks and trolling along the Edge for wahoo. In fact, at this time of the year, just about all that is really needed is a line, a baited hook and somewhere to toss it to get some Tight lines!!!