Fishing tournaments are always good news for restaurant patrons with the prospect of fresh fish on the menus for the coming days. With at least two local restaurant owners among the participants for Island Water World’s first annual Mahi Mahi Tournament in St. Maarten on April 13, there was good reason to be feeling hungry.
Defying the rough weather and sea conditions that marked the morning’s fishing, veteran angler Captain Lee Halley and crew on Small Change snatched the first and second place prizes at the inaugural tournament organised by the St. Maarten Sport Fishing Foundation at Bobby’s Marina.
The crew reeled in the largest Mahi Mahi of 30.5lb for the first prize and followed up with the second largest Mahi Mahi of 25.5lb for the second prize.
Third prize of Most Weight Overall went to Sea Fever, a boat registered in Saba captained by Roy Heyliger with 218.5lb of fish.
Peter Bonev, with the smallest boat in the tournament, landed the largest Tuna at 54.8lb for the fourth prize, caught between Dog Island and Tuna Shoals. Sea Fever also collected a prize for the Largest Wahoo of 52.7lb.
Winning boats won a combination of cash, gift certificates, and goody bags for the prizes.
Fishermen reported rough weather conditions in the morning with swells of four to six feet but conditions eased in the afternoon.
“It was overcast, very wet, squally and rough, up until 1:00pm,” reported Lee Halley. “Not a nice feeling and we even thought about coming back at one point but continued.”
Halley commended Island Water World for getting the anglers together considering there are only a few tournaments a year and long gaps in between tournaments. He said he hoped more people would get together to dedicate more time to sport fishing.
“For children a small tournament like this to get them involved is great. I feel bigger companies should do more to organise tournaments for children. You can combine it with clinics on how to fish and tie hooks etc. A bottom fishing tournament for example is ideal and you don’t have to go out into deep water.”
Organiser Sergio Hodge noted most boats had caught their fish in the morning by 10:00am. Some 700lb of fish was caught among the registered 13 boats. There were no restrictions on the fishing zone but rules included no fish attracting devices (FAD), no hand lining, no spearing, live baiting etc.
“We wanted to keep it a very traditional tournament,” said Sergio. “Considering the lead in time for organising it was less than we had hoped for it was still a good turnout of boats. I’m sure next year we can double the amount of entries.”
Commented Island Water World general manager Birgit Röthel: “We’ve been very active in the cruiser and sailing market but fishing has been a bit neglected until now. But we do have the largest selection of exciting fishing products, so organising this tournament was overdue especially as we have many fishermen among our loyal customers who go back with us years and years. We look forward to the tournament being a successful annual event.”