Resident experts more than hold their own
A common definition of “expert” is someone from another town. It is not uncommon to look down on anything home-grown and to look up to something from away.
Certainly, when it comes to big game fishing, Bermuda need not resort to that. After three major billfish tournaments, there is no denying that local skipper Craigin Curtis has bested allcomers as his Reel Addiction topped the Bermuda Triple Crown with a massive 5,287 points.
Congratulations are certainly due to the captain and his crew for a job really well done.
No mean competitors in what was a tremendously great year for marlin were Seamaster, captained by Nick Verture, with 4,700 points, followed by No Vacancy, led by Eric Soderholm, with 4,238 points.
The Sea Horse Anglers Club tournament, the final leg of the Triple Crown, was every bit as exciting as the other events with standings changing constantly and the outcome uncertain until the final whistle.
In the end, it was winning boat, Allen DeSilva’s Es Mucho, that had the most points with 2,700. Although that sounded well ahead of the competition, in fact, there were five boats on 2,000 points in very hot pursuit.
The Largest Fish Jackpot was won by James Freeman who fished from Sea Toy and boated a fine 765-pounder. But even that was not a foregone conclusion as two other fish were also brought to the scales, a 562lbs blue and a 599-pounder.
Given the accepted difficulty of estimating the size of a fish in the frenetic action that is bill fishing, a report of any boated fish sends shivers up the spine of whoever is in the lead at any given time.
Overall, these three fish help to illustrate the sheer quality of the fish that traverse these waters during the summer months. The 562lbs blue also contributed significantly to the 1,562 points that secured the High Point Lady honours for Stephanie Choate, who was only just behind Thomas Walsh, the overall high point angler, whose four blue marlin releases were made on No Vacancy.
Final figures for the Sea Horse were 26 teams catching 54 blue marlin and two white marlin, making it better, on average, than two fish per boat over the three day event.
Showing this year to be nothing short of a great year for billfish action, the three events of the Triple Crown saw 160 blue marlin, 20 white marlin and a solo spearfish caught.
In many ways this is a return to the expected with the blue being the dominant billfish species, with 20 whites out of a total of 181 billfish.
By way of comparison last year more than a quarter of all billfish caught were whites, with 34 out of 124 taken. In 2014, 56 whites were caught along with 95 blues.
All told, 2016 has been a great year for billfish and, even though the hubbub is now over, there should still be some good action to be had by anyone willing to give the deep water a drag.
Just because the tournaments are over does not mean that the fish have left. In fact, the next few weeks often see some fast action from smaller fish, thought to be males. With an average weight somewhere between 150lbs and 200lbs these fish are ideally suited to the class of tackle employed for wahoo and yellowfin tuna. Summer isn’t over yet.
It would be remiss of the angling community not to mark the recent passing of Brunell “Skipper” Spurling. While he certainly enjoyed a good innings, there are several generations of anglers, both casual and serious, who had occasion to have their lives touched by this man.
Spurling was a bait fisherman par excellence and was almost the definition of a net fisherman, another dying skill. At almost any hour of the day, he could be seen in his little blue boat patrolling the areas around Ferry Reach in search of fry, anchovy and whatever else he happened upon.
Over the years an almost endless pilgrimage of the faithful flowed East in search of a reliable supply of bait and they were seldom disappointed. This was especially true of the days when light tackle was king and chum bait was essential.
Another page of the colourful history of angling in Bermuda is now closed and he will often be remembered.
Finally, as this holiday weekend wends its way to the eighth month of the year, now is the time to plant in minds the seed that will eventually blossom into the landmark 50th Royal Gazette Wahoo Tournament which is scheduled for the first weekend of September.
Plan to be part of this year’s celebration of a much-loved tournament that has always appealed to residents and is often seen as summer’s swansong and a final shot at this season’s Tight Lines!