The heat is on! Last year’s catch of a 669-pound blue marlin broke the longstanding record for heaviest fish ever caught in the Spice Island Billfish Tournament (SIBT) and set a new challenge for anglers to beat. “This is a real possibility,” says Gary Clifford, tournament committee member. “Commercial fishermen recently pulled in a 934-pound blue marlin.”
Over 30 boats, with anglers and crews hailing from St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Martinique, Grenada, Barbados, Canada and the U.S. mainland are expected to compete in this tournament.
“We look forward to welcoming back old friends and making new ones at this year’s tournament,” says Clifford.
All eyes will be on the Barbadian anglers as it was Adrien Johnson, aboard the Legacy out of Barbados, who caught the record-breaking marlin last year.
Fished out of the Grenada Yacht Club Marina, in the St. George’s Lagoon, and set for January 23 to 26, Clifford says, “The fishing grounds are mostly on the west coast of Grenada, although there are no restrictions on where the boats can fish. There are two main ‘drop offs’, or 3000 to 6000 foot contours which vary from as little as 3 miles offshore to 15 miles or more.”
Registration and an anglers’ briefing will take place on January 22nd, with January 25th reserved as a lay day for a cook-off competition on the beach. Last year, the Barbadian seafood medley and fish chowder were voted tops although the Trinidad stewed pork was a close runner-up as was the Grenadian oil down and pig souse.
Eligible species are blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish and spearfish, all with modified release rules to encourage billfish conservation. There will also be weight prizes for yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin or mahi-mahi.
The first, second and third place boat wins $1000, $500 and $300, respectively. There’s US$11,000 in cash waiting for the angler who breaks the tournament record for blue marlin (669 pounds) and $7500 and $3750, respectively, for anglers catching tournament record-breaking white marlin (82 pounds) and sailfish (77.6 pounds).
There are other prizes for the heaviest yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin, including $1900 for a record-breaking yellowfin tuna (170.5 pounds), $550 for wahoo (66 pounds) and $375 for dolphin (51.2 pounds).
In 2002, the Spice Island Billfish Tournament became a qualifying tournament for the Rolex/IGFA Offshore Championship. This means that the winner of the tournament automatically receives an invitation to the Rolex/IGFA Offshore Championship.
“The Spice Island Billfish tournament is well known by fishermen throughout the southern Caribbean for its great fishing and relaxed friendly atmosphere. The committee takes pride in running a well organized event and greatly appreciates the support shown by anglers from neighboring islands,” says Clifford.
The entry fee for participation is $110 U.S. per person. There is a minimum of three anglers per boat and a maximum of six. “While most anglers enter on boats owned by themselves or friends, it is possible to charter local boats, although they very often book up well in advance,” Clifford says.
Participants can use their own boat or charter a boat from one of Grenada’s charter companies.
For more information, to charter a boat, and to register, contact SIBT secretary Wendy-Pat Woodroffe at: (473) 535 1340 or (473) 440 0602, Email: [email protected]