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Marlin Challenge caps off Billfish events

Almost done, now! All the big billfish tournaments are in the past and only the Bermuda Blue Marlin Release Challenge is to come.

A tournament designed to attract lower-key participants, this is a single-day tournament and is based solely on releases of marlin. The entry fee is quite modest compared to the other billfish tournaments and the organisers hope to attract a larger cross-section of the community and too get them interested in this exciting form of fishing.

And there was plenty of excitement to be had in last week’s Sea Horse Anglers Bermuda Billfish Tournament.

Right from the beginning, it looked to be a bit of a record beater with 351 anglers on 38 teams signing on. At the end of day one, Pescador looked to be in prime position, having released three blue marlin for a total of 1,500 points, one release ahead of Miss Magnolia.

On day two, the fates had something else in mind for Pescador with the crew still managing one blue marlin and two white marlin releases for another 900 points.

Reel Steel came to the fore with three blue marlin releases and Blank Check released a blue marlin and boated a nice contender that tipped the scales at 666 pounds, scoring a like number of points.

Day three saw marlin madness really set in as Reel Steel released another three blue marlin and topped that off with a white marlin release. Pescador countered with another blue marlin release.

When the fishing was done and it was time for the final tally, Captain Jason Parker’s Reel Steel had prevailed with an amazing 3,200 points and Captain Jeremy Fowler’s Pescador was in second with 2,900 points.

Back in third was the consistent Flyer, skippered by Captain Bryce Garvey, with 2,500 points. Reel Steel also won the Billfish Release Points Jackpot with their 3,200 points.

The Largest Blue Marlin Jackpot was won by Steven Walker, who took over an hour to better the 666-pound blue marlin onboard Captain Danny Hearn’s Blank Check.

The overall High Point Angler and Junior Angler was Marc Verzaleno, who had previously been top angler and this time accumulated 2,700 points aboard Reel Steel.

The High Point Lady Angler was Debbie Capps, who scored 500 points on Freyja.

In the Gamefish awards, Andy Periera won the wahoo category with a 38.9-pound wahoo caught from Hot Spot. There was stiff competition for the largest dolphin with three specimens being weighed in. The largest was Teresa Rodriguez’s 37.8 pounder, a large dolphin for this part of the world, which was caught on Miss T J.

The final figures for the three-day event were an impressive 56 billfish: 50 blue marlin and six white marlin in addition to the three dolphin and single wahoo that comprised the overall haul. The Sea Horse event rounded out the three-leg Bermuda Triple Crown with the top honours being claimed by Captain Parker’s Reel Steel with an impressive 6,600 points while close up behind in second was Captain Garvey’s Flyer, on 6,000 points. Rounding out the placings, in third, was Captain Brian Rabbit’s Big Deal with 3,700 points.

All told, this was a massive undertaking and a very successful series of high-profile tournaments that did Bermuda proud and will keep this island on the angler’s map for some years to come.

Settling down, now into what will become the summer doldrums will be the rest of the local fleet with most of the visiting bots due to depart over the next week or so.

It is not that there is a sudden dearth of billfish here, but there are plenty of other major tournaments along the US east Coast and down in the Caribbean.

There are also insurance commitments that preclude staying on isolated oceanic islands as the tropical season starts to move towards its peak. Those interested in marlin will find plenty of these for the next six weeks or so to come but the real target species will revert back to wahoo and tuna.

There is no shortage of small game species and while these offer some good sport on light tackle and, offer some opportunities for anglers to secure world or local records, the emphasis simply seldom is on such species.

With the blazing heat of the day discouraging to tuna and anglers alike, it will be chumming early in the morning or late in the afternoon that will see the best of the yellowfins.

Blackfin tuna are much less choosy, and although likely to be encountered in water somewhat shallower than that preferred by the yellowfin, will provide plenty of action.

Summer evenings lend themselves to fishing for white water snappers in the channel areas and there is plenty to be said for a cooling breeze, the heat of the day done and some culinarily rewarding Tight Lines!!!