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Cruiser Crews (third left), owner of Cowpoke, 61-Viking and winner of the 40th Bahamas Billfish Championship. Photo courtesy of the Bahamas Billfish Championship
Cruiser Crews (third left), owner of Cowpoke, 61-Viking and winner of the 40th Bahamas Billfish Championship. Photo courtesy of the Bahamas Billfish Championship

Cowpoke Wins Bahamas Billfish Championship

Fishing all four tournaments of the 40th Bahamas Billfish Championship (BBC) proved a charm for Avon Park, Florida-based Cruiser Crews, owner/angler of the 61-Viking, Cowpoke, and his champion team. Though Crews and his wife Christy have fished one of the series tournaments since 2002 and won the Treasure Cay event last year, it was the total points they and their team scored during the quartet of competitions that earned them one of the sports fishing world’s biggest bragging rights.

The Guana Cay Championship kicked-off the series in April. Cowpoke enjoyed a terrific start, says Crews. “We won the first day with a sailfish and blue marlin, missing a Grand Slam by having a white marlin jump us off. The fishing slowed for us after day one but we were able to catch two more whites to finish in third place.”

None of the Cowpoke team had fished the Harbour Island Championship, site of the BBC’s second leg in early May. Even so, and in spite of having shots at two blue marlin with at least two more that swam through the spread and failed to eat, Cowpoke was only two blue marlin out of first place overall at the end.

Leg three, the Treasure Cay Championship in late May, saw Cowpoke jump into the series lead. “By the second day we had caught a blue, two whites, and a sailfish, putting us just 200 points out of first. Day three the wind picked up to 30 knots and it was uncomfortable fishing but the marlin were snapping. We caught a blue and two whites to tie for first. On day four the wind fell out some but the seas did not and after catching two white marlin and an epic two hour battle for Christy with a blue marlin on 30-pound tackle, we repeated as Treasure Cay Champions. Plus, we ended with a 2100 point lead in the series overall.”

The fourth and final leg, the Marsh Harbour Championship in June, saw close competition for the series title. “The last day, the Blue Eagle team had us on pins and needles,” says Crews. “We were two blue marlin ahead of them in the overall, but they were winning this individual tournament. A tournament win meant they would earn 600 bonus points and could have easily beaten us. As it ended up, they didn’t catch anything on the final day so Cowpoke won the series!”

The success of the BBC over the last four decades, says tournament director Al Behrendt, “lies in it being a series of tournaments that moves throughout an island nation over several months. The championship goes to the true overall top team rather than a team fishing in a single or multiple tournaments in the same location. This year was no exception. We entered the final tournament with no less than seven teams that had a good chance at the title.”

For full results, visit: www.bahamasbillfish.com

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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