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Trinis take Top Boat in 41st Spice Island Billfish Tournament

Sports fishermen from Trinidad and Tobago (T and T) proved their billfishing prowess for the fourth year in a row when Papasan, a 65-foot Hatteras owned by angler Anthony Brash, won the Top Boat title at the 41st Spice Island Billfish Tournament held January 25 to 28 out of Grenada.

Papasan and Brash, who also won Top Angler, had their work cut out for them as this year's tournament saw the participation of a near record fleet of 51 boats and 244 anglers hailing from Antigua, St. Lucia, Martinique, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago and the U.K. In fact, Papasan didn't score its win until the clock ran out on the final day of fishing.

The weather for the first two days of the tournament was very sunny, no cloud cover, but with rough conditions, said Papasan's Brash, who has fished this event since 1981 and placed as high as second top boat. "We fished in water depths of 6,000-feet approximately 15 miles west of St. Georges."

The fleet made an awesome sight powering out of St. Georges harbor for the Bimini start on the first day. The Trinis were hot from the get go. Par T Time released the first blue marlin of the tournament shortly after lines in. By day's end, the top slots on the scoreboard were all filled with T and T boats. Temptation released three blues to take the lead. Blue Fever's hat trick of a blue and white marlin release put them in second, while Papasan rounded out the day in third with the release of two sailfish and a blue marlin.

Day two, Grenada's Crazy Baldhead added a blue marlin and sailfish release to their first day score and took over the lead. Meanwhile, Blue Fever released a sailfish to hold steady in second place, while Brash on Papasan released his first blue marlin to hang onto third place in boat category.

The last day, Papasan needed to catch at least one fish to move into the top spot – and that was if Crazy Baldhead and Blue Fever went fishless. Brash describes his fate-deciding catch this way: "It was around 2 p.m. and I was relaxing on the fighting chair when I had a very small strike. I thought it was a barracuda, but still released the drag on the rod to free spool. Two seconds later, I put the drag to full strike position and the water turned white as the blue marlin tried to shake the hook out of its mouth. The water was very rough and conditions were windy and the marlin had Papasan backing into the waves."

A half hour into the fight, when the marlin was about 100 feet behind the boat, a big wave broke over Papasan's stern soaking the crew and setting off three bilge pumps that tripped the breaker in the engine room. Brash eventually got the marlin to the back of the boat, but the fish was feisty and ran off with more line. Nearly an hour later, he finally reeled in the fish and successfully made the release.

Meanwhile, Crazy Baldhead and Blue Fever indeed remained fishless by Lines Out, giving Papasan the win.

"Normally when we go fishing our success ratio of a strike then a hookup is around 50 percent," says Brash. "But for some reason on this tournament we had five billfish strike our rods – three blue marlin and two sailfish – and released all."

In addition to winning Top Boat and Top Angler prizes, Papasan earned entry into the 2011 International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Offshore Championship.

The SIBT is the first leg of the 2010 Southern Caribbean Billfish Circuit, a three-year-old series that includes six tournaments on the islands of Grenada, Barbados, Martinique, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago. For full results visit: www.sibtgrenada.com

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