Over fifty boats and five times as many anglers from Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Canada, the USA and UK are expected to compete in the Budget Marine 43rd Annual Spice Island Billfish Tournament (SIBT), set for January 25th to 29th, out of the Grenada Yacht Club. Defending champions from Trinidad, Gud Thyme, are expected back and eager to help beat last year’s fleet total of 94 billfish releases.
“For 2012″, says tournament director, Gary Clifford, “there is a special prize of a new nine-foot Ultra-Light AB Model dinghy with 9.8hp Tohatsu two-stroke outboard engine for the first boat to register a Grand Slam, or release of a Blue Marlin, a White Marlin and a Sailfish in the same day on the same boat.”
A cash prize of EC$30,000 (US$11,000) goes to the angler who reels in a blue marlin that breaks the island record of 669lb set in 2006.
The billfishing grounds off Grenada are deep water, near-by and ‘hot’.
“It starts two miles offshore in 2000ft of water off Moliniere Point up the west coast,” says Clifford. “Reliable areas are often the one kilometre (3250ft) and two kilometres (6500ft) contour lines at about five and ten miles offshore, respectively. A seamount on the charts at 18 miles is also popular and productive on the right tide. Some boats head far to the southwest to fish the deep water around Reindeer shoal, while others head north to fish the channel off the islets of Diamond Rock and Isle de Ronde. Everyone has their favorite spots and usually fish are being caught in many different locations, not just one.”
Charters, including Clifford’s 31ft Innovator Yes Aye are available, plus there’s free dockage at the host Grenada Yacht Club for registrants that bring their own boats.
Armchair anglers can keep up with the action live via Facebook.
“Posting to Facebook during the tournament was a major success for us last year and it’s since been copied by other tournaments,” says Clifford.
The fun and excitement continues off the water with a highly-anticipated lay-day beach cook-out complete with live entertainment.
The SIBT is a qualifying tournament for the IGFA Offshore Championship. It’s also the kick-off of the Southern Caribbean Billfish Circuit, comprised of six annual tournaments on five southern Caribbean islands.
For more information and to register, visit: www.sibtgrenada.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.