It wasn’t the wave of a wand, but the reel of a rod that won the Trinidad & Tobago-based team aboard the 54ft Bertram, Abracadabra, the coveted Top Boat and Top Angler prizes in the Budget Marine Spice Island Billfish Tournament (BMSIBT), January 25th to 29th. Abracadabra was one of 50 boats and 256 anglers that fished this annual tournament, one that has garnered international attendance due to its hot billfishing and reputation for Grand Slams. In fact, a Grand Slam – catch and release of a blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish in one day – is one of the reasons for Abracadabra’s win.
“We consider this one of the main tournaments in the region and try to fish it every year,” says Abracadabra’s Capt. Stuart Dalgliesh. “But most importantly we came to have fun.”
A canon launched the Bimini start and the fleet created an impressive parade as they cruised through the Carenage towards the open seas. The Abracadabra team headed west of St. Georges in winds gusting 25 to 30 knots and wave topping 15ft. The bad weather didn’t dampen the fishing. A total of 28 billfish were released the first day, though this luck didn’t rub off on Abracadabra.
“The first day was very frustrating,” says Dalgliesh. “We only had kitchen fish to show, one dorado, one wahoo and two barracudas, while all around us boats were hooking billfish.”
Continuing bad weather actually brought some magic to the Abracadabra team.
“It was very rough, but we kept to our game plan,” Dalgliesh explains. “We released a sail, followed by a white marlin and then a blue marlin – Bam! A Grand Slam. We were ecstatic. We even closed off the day with another sailfish. Whatever happened in the tournament after that was gravy.”
And gravy they got! After a lay-day cook-out on the beach at long-time host, Grenada Yacht Club, the Abracadabra team went back out fishing and catching.
“The third day we were hoping for two blues,” says Dalgliesh. “We released one blue, and one white and secretly hoped for a sail to duplicate the Grand Slam. Then, we hooked into a blue of about 300lb on a 30lb test line, which fought us for about two hours in terrible waters. Finally, when we were bringing him to the boat, the line snapped just as we touched the leader.”
Abracadabra made up for their disappointment at losing the blue by taking home not only the Top Boat prize, but Dalgliesh’s son, Gordon, reeled in over half the team’s points to earn the Top Angler prize. Other team members included Alan Sheppard, Chris ‘Bones’ Mouttet, Jerome Rostant and Andrew Sa Gomes.
“Luck plays a big part, but the team also works well together,” says Dalgliesh. “Also, please don’t forget the Grand Slam!”
This year’s BMSIBT welcomed anglers from more than nine countries, making it a truly international event. The global nature of the tournament, as well as its reputation for billfish conservation, drew a trio of fishing celebrities. These included Capt. Bart Miller from Australia, who fished aboard the Trinidad & Tobago-based Knot Easy and is famous for his legendary line of ‘Black Bart’ lures, and Capt. Luis Suarez, multi-time Atlantic billfish champion, who fished aboard Exile. The other renowned fisherman was Dr. Ellen Peel, president of the Ft. Lauderdale, FL-based The Billfish Foundation.
Peel presented Capt. Gary Clifford, one of the BMSIBT organizers and owner of the 31ft Innovator, Yes Aye, and True Blue Sportfishing Charters, with a certificate of recognition for his efforts in tagging and releasing billfish in Grenada over the last 15 years. This year, all 90 billfish caught in the tournament were released.
For full results, visit www.sibtgrenada.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.