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Don’t bet against a Bermuda World Cup winner

Today is the day. Along with the 300-odd million Americans celebrating the anniversary of their independence, at least one crew will be celebrating winning the Blue Marlin World Cup. And that will be a party.

With 120-plus boats entered in this worldwide event, and a substantial amount of money going to the sole winner there will be real competition in locating and catching a real trophy fish that betters the 500lb mark.

This year sees boats from places as obscure as San Salvador, Bahamas, where the first winner came from, the Cape Verde Islands, the Azores and the Gulf of Mexico, all basically in the Atlantic; to the Pacific where there are entries from Panama and the fabled Kona, Hawaii coast, which is the area that has produced more winners than anywhere else.

Even the Indian Ocean is covered with a team fishing out of the Seychelles Islands; truly a World Cup. But don’t count Bermuda out just yet — this Island is just one shy of Kona’s record number.

Expect all the deep blue water around the Island to be well worked by a flotilla of local and foreign boats all bent on making their mark in this year’s event. Recent probes of the blue briny have seen fair to good numbers of both blue and white marlin with some really hefty blues having been released or raised.

No one is quite sure why the billfishing is red-hot in July here — suggestions are that the blue marlin come to spawn and that accounts for the really huge fish which are all females and the numbers of smaller, presumably male fish, which occur alongside them. Multiple strikes are not uncommon and these are thought to be a result of the courtship process. The truth is that so little is known about marlin biology, the reason may never be known, but the fact remains that if catching a marlin is the object then there aren’t many places better to be.

Although the World Cup seeks a single outstanding fish, intermingled with this event is the first leg of the Bermuda Triple Crown, the Bermuda Billfish Blast Tournament. Primarily a three-day release event, it does have provisions for allowing a qualifying fish to be taken as a World Cup entry, otherwise the big winners will be decided on points scored by releasing billfish.

Blue marlin are the big scorers with 500 points per fish, regardless of size. Smaller billfish, that is; white marlin, spearfish and sailfish, each score 200 points for a successful release. In all cases, there has to be compelling photographic evidence of a capture prior to the release to ensure that the points are awarded.

July is devoted to the pursuit of billfish with the next leg of the Triple Crown following hard on the heels of the first with the Bermuda Big Game Classic slated for July 9 to 13. A similar event, this is the original big one and, as such, generally gets the greatest participation, with something like 50 teams competing for the glory and gold.

Earlier this week, a warm-up event took place in the shape of the Bermuda Billfish Release Cup tournament. Seven teams competed, with visiting El Cazador taking top honours with a total of 700 points from blue marlin and white marlin releases. Second place, on time, went to Just a Dog and Great Escape also scored 700 points, but behind the other two boats.

Another notable catch, a 101lb yellowfin tuna won the Gamefish Division for El Cazador, giving additional evidence that there are a variety of heavyweights on the offshore grounds.

Smaller, school-sized yellowfin are frequenting the drop-off around the Banks and there is some good chumming to be had. Small game is plentiful for chummers and there are still enough wahoo around to make a bit of trolling worthwhile. All told, these are ideal conditions for good, old-fashioned fishing.

Last week’s blustery weather forced a postponement of the Bermuda Regiment tournament and that should go ahead tomorrow. Quite unlike the billfish series, this tournament has its roots deep in the traditional fishing that Bermuda has always championed. In fact, marlin, sailfish and spearfish are not even eligible species although sharks, which are exempted from most other tournaments, are included in this event.

With something for everybody, especially those actively serving in the Regiment, this tournament focuses on time-honoured traditions such as handlining, catching fish that may lack game prowess but are nonetheless fine table fare, and the wahoo, amberjack, yellowfin tuna and blackfin tuna that put Bermuda on the light tackle map. The prizes are many and varied, offering plenty of opportunities to emerge as a winner. Rules and entries may be made at the Bermuda Regiment.

No matter what sort of angling one may have in mind, just about everything is as good as it gets here at the moment. Inshore, offshore, all it takes is a little resolve and a desire for Tight Lines!