High-speed trolling paid off for Dr. Jason Belizaire and his crew aboard Pazit II. This relatively new-to-the-Caribbean fishing method enabled Pazit II’s four person team to reel in a total of seven wahoo or 183 ¼lb of fish earning them Champion Boat at the 4th Annual Francis Nunes Jr. Memorial Fishing Tournament and Seafood Festival, held out of Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua on October 1.
“We headed about 50 miles offshore and chose to fish conventionally at first,” says Belizaire, who captained his 25ft Boston Whaler, Pazit II. “Everything that hit our lines we lost. So, by late morning we switched to high-speed trolling with lures for wahoo and caught all seven by early afternoon. They were fairly good size – all weighing between 20 and 37lb.”
Lady angler Stephanie Shoul fishing aboard the Grady White 306, Shoulin, caught a whopper wahoo weighing 54lb that landed her the Largest Fish Caught by a Lady Angler and Largest Wahoo prizes.
“We started fishing in the southeast corner on an edge, but we encountered a lot of seaweed and small dolphin,” explains Shoul. “The three youths on board enjoyed the action and caught six small dolphin or two fish each. But we were looking for bigger fish and moved to South Bank.”
It was at the South Bank that Shoul hooked up and landed her wining wahoo.
“We encourage the youth in our family to fish, so we take part in this tournament mainly as a lesson to them,” says Shoul. “Our deal on the boat is for the children to fight all the fish unless we feel the fish is too big or the fish is on the wire line. Here is where I lucked out – our big wahoo hit the wire line, so it was my fight!”
This was the second time Shoul has won in this tournament. The first came in the inaugural event in 2008 when, fishing aboard Adventure Xtreme with Captain Eli Fuller, she won the ladies prize for the largest wahoo, a 23 ¼-pounder.
Fellow lady angler, Manny Titze, caught the largest kingfish – a 25 ½-pounder – aboard Sixpence.
For the men, Samier Hanna aboard Simply Nutz caught the Largest Fish Caught by a Man – a 42 ¼lb wahoo, and Colin Martin, on White Eagle, reeled in the largest dolphin – a 16 ½-pounder.
Junior anglers enjoyed good luck too. Seven-year-old Hunter Langlois won the trophy for youngest angler to catch a fish: Langlois reeled in a 13 ¾lb dolphin. Joseph Nunes, one of the tournament namesake’s nephews, reeled in a 44 ¾lb wahoo to win the trophy for the largest fish caught by a junior angler.
“This tournament is held as a memorial to Francis Nunes Jr. who was so important in the development of sport fishing in Antigua,” says regatta chair, Phillip Shoul. “A big family man, the vision for this tournament was about bringing family and friends together and to support youths and children getting involved in fishing as both a career and a hobby.”
The fun continued ashore when fishermen from aboard the 22 tournament boats gathered on the lawn in front of the Copper and Lumber Hotel for a Seafood Festival. Fresh seafood pasta, gumbo, cockles, conch, lobster, battered fish and even sushi were on sale making it a delightful and delicious end to the day.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.