Triple Crown series reaches thrilling finale
This is the climax. The climax of the month-long reverie devoted to billfish and otherwise known as July.
The final tournament of the Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Series is currently being fished and its outcome could well be decisive in the awarding of the coveted title of Triple Crown Winner.
Last weekend’s Big Game Classic was in itself an exciting competition. As predicted, the marlin were active with a total of 88 fish caught: 67 blue marlin and 21 white marlin.
There was plenty of competition for the largest fish on the dock in this modified release tournament. The overall honours went to captain Allan Bean’s Paradise One and angler Cooper Simpson who on the last day boated a fine 713-pound blue marlin, eclipsing the other two fish which weighed 534 pounds for Pescador and 529 pounds for local boat Triple Play.
Topping the points was captain Bull Tolson’s Sea Toy with 2500 points although Plane Simple and Gladys Fox were both in hot pursuit with 2100 points and 2000 points, respectively.
Top angler was Manny Pereira on Plane Simple with 2100 points; he was also the top junior angler in the tournament and the High Point Lady was Maria Smith on Uno Mas (1100 points).
The Largest Game fish was won by Mark Woodbury with a 45-pound wahoo, ahead of four other wahoo that were weighed in.
The present tournament is the Sea Horse Anglers Club Billfish Tournament, the Island’s oldest such event and an opportunity for the boats taking part to seal their shot not only at this tournament but also at the Triple Crown title.
At the start of the event, things were tight at the top with Sea Striker in first place with 3100 points amassed from the Bermuda Blast and classic tournaments.
Right behind were Sea Toy and Pescador; and, given the nature of these events, a mass of boats that can come from nowhere to top in a matter of hours.
Suffice it to say that there is every likelihood that this will go right down to the wire and the outcome will remain unpredictable.
The numbers in the final event are usually slightly down on the Classic, not because of a lack of interest but the fact that some of the foreign boats have commitments elsewhere and have had to head back to the US East Coast in order to fulfil them.
That notwithstanding, virtually all of them will have departed by month’s end as hurricane season looms and insurance requirements mean that they must be in safe havens and those do not include tiny, mid-Atlantic islands.
With their departure comes a reduction in billfish effort even though the presence of both blue marlin and white marlin offshore persist through September. Local anglers shift their focus back on to more tradition species and usually ones that offer food value.
It is snapper time and, apart from those who have elected to catch white waters some of the more enterprising fishermen have set their sights on yellowtails.
Calm seas and a favourable current away from the boat to leeward offer ideal conditions for a good haul of these choice game fish.
Game fish, they truly are on suitable tackle; and recognised by the International Game Fish Association with Bermuda producing most of the really large specimens.
Less important than size, local fishermen like the fact that they often occur in schools, and it is possible to catch literally hundreds of them.
Most set their sights somewhat more realistically but often wind up with enough to provide a healthy collection of fillets that can be stored away in the freezer. They are also commercially important and are welcomed by restaurants across the Island.
When conditions are right, the fish will continue biting long after nightfall and it is this that allows anglers to catch large numbers of yellowtail.
The pitfall with this species is the fact that they can spoil really quickly, and the warm summer water exacerbates that process.
The key to success is ice and lots of it or a chiller solution that will cool off the catch and keep it that way. Don’t let greed get in the way and overdoing it only to have the whole catch go bad.
Other good reports of catches have included bonita (Almaco jack) which are available in good numbers on Bermuda’s Edge and these will gradually filter into the reef areas and further inshore.
These may be small game but they are good little fighters and are considered by many to be good eating.
Another species which is often ignored but which can be found in the grass shallows at this time of the year are hogfish. Contrary to popular belief they will take more than just live crabs and although they can offer a good pull are considerably more value in the kitchen than as a game fish.
Looking ahead and of interest to the younger set is the confirmation that Bermuda Anglers Club will again be holding their Junior Tournament on August 14 with the weigh-in at the Flagpole. Entries can be made online at the Bermuda Anglers Club website (www.bermudaanglersclub.com).
There are great prizes to be won and it offers the Island’s youth a chance to compete for Tight Lines!!!