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2018 Caribbean Sport Fishing Tournament Preview

Now that’s a Mahi-mahi! Barbados Game Fishing Association International Tournament. Photo courtesy of BGFA
Now that’s a Mahi-mahi! Barbados Game Fishing Association International Tournament. Photo courtesy of BGFA

There’s no place better to sport fish than in the waters of the Caribbean Sea and those of the Atlantic Ocean that boarder the region’s many islands. New tournaments and new dates mark some of the ‘What’s New’ in the 2018 tournament season. In addition, hurricane damage last September has delayed organizers setting dates for some events or deciding if the event will happen this year. For the latest information, check www.allatsea.net/events/category/fishing-tournament. In the meantime, here is a sampling of what’s on where and when …

MARCH 22-25
DOM (Di Ole Marina) Port Antonio Marina Spring Tournament, Jamaica
“We have dropped the ‘Calcutta Cash’ prize concept for trophies to be awarded based on billfish release points when confirmed by photos,” says Dr. Ron DuQuesnay, organizer and secretary of the host of Jamaica’s Sir Henry Morgan Angling Association Ltd. On shore, enjoy a dockside cook-up of fish and music by local bands. www.jamaica sportsfishing.com

APRIL 3-7
Barbados Game Fishing Association (BGFA) International Tournament
There’s no layday this year. “Three days of fishing in a row makes it possible to finish the tournament on a Friday and have a big party that night at the Port St. Charles Yacht Club,” says organizer Josh Delmas. Special remembrances will be held for two BGFA members, Laurence Worrell and Peter Lewis, who ran the event in past years. barbados gamefishing.com

 

Casa de Campo Blue Marlin Classic. Photo: Richard Gibson
Casa de Campo Blue Marlin Classic. Photo: Richard Gibson

APRIL 18-21
Casa de Campo International Blue Marlin Classic, Dominican Republic
Nicknamed the ‘Reel’ March Madness, the new dates correspond to the heart of the Dominican Republic’s blue marlin season. “Let’s see if this year we can beat the tournament record of 256 blue marlin released, which we set in the 1999 Shootout when it was held in La Guairá, Venezuela,” invites director Rick Alvarez. Prizes range between $100,000 to $150,000 in cash, plus additional sponsor luxury prizes. Charter vessels available. intlbillfishtourns.com

MAY 15-19
Tobago International Game Fishing Tournament
Some 20 boats and over 80 anglers are expected to fish this event out of Charlottesville, in one of two divisions: local and international. “Our event is the only one in the southern Caribbean where a Grander (1,000-pounds-plus blue marlin) has been brought to the scale,” says organizer Della De Silva. On shore, there’s an Angler’s Party and Lay Day activities. www.tigft.com

MAY 16-19
The Shootout (Production Vs. Custom), Abaco
The entry list for this second leg of the Abaco Diamond Series reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ on today’s billfish tournament circuit. “We expect the Shootout to be sold out this year, with the best of the best along with a dozen of the custom boat builders attending,” says organizer Capt. Skip Smith. “Last year, the tournament had the biggest jackpot ever in the Bahamas.” www.skipstournaments.com

 

We won! Antigua & Barbuda Sports Fishing (ASF) Tournament
We won! Antigua & Barbuda Sports Fishing (ASF) Tournament

MAY 18
Mikie Pigott Jr. Memorial Classic
MAY 19-20
Antigua & Barbuda Sports Fishing (ASF) Tournament, Antigua
Break the island record of a 771.25lb blue marlin, and win US $100,000. “This big attraction will surely be awarded soon as more boats take part,” says organizer Robert Hall. World renowned marine artist, Carey Chen, will be attending. Nightly parties in Nelson’s Dockyard. www.antiguabarbuda
sportsfishing.com

MAY 24 to 26
Ernest Hemingway International Billfish Tournament, Cuba
Hosted out of the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba in Havana, this is one of the world’s oldest sport fishing events first held in 1950. “We welcome all lovers of sport fishing to come fish with us,” invites organizer Commodore Jose Escrich. www.hemingwaycuba.com/marina- hemingway-cuba.html

JUNE 21-23
Saint Martin Billfish Tournament
There will be two days of fishing instead of the usual three this year due to fall storms. “We weren’t about to let Irma stop the tournament this year,” says organizer Stephan Petit. “Instead, we’re especially looking forward to great fishing, great food and entertainment for the public.” www.billfish-tournament.com

JULY TBA
BVI Tournament
“The Virgin Gorda Marlin tournament (that has taken place in August) will be replaced by another tournament in July,” says Ron Potter, chairman of the Virgin Islands Fishing Advisory Committee. Tournament fishing in the BVI offers prime gamefish like swordfish, marlin, tuna and wahoo, including the spectacular North Drop one, of the world’s top ten game fishing grounds. www.bvitourism.com  

 

USVI Open ABMT 2017 Top Boat, Doña Lucy, from Puerto Rico. Photo: Dean Barnes
USVI Open ABMT
2017 Top Boat, Doña Lucy, from Puerto Rico. Photo: Dean Barnes

AUGUST 23-26/27
USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament
“Last year was the first time that this event was a boat (rather than an angler) tournament, and that will also be the format for this year, and the MVP (Marine Vocational Program) will once again be the event’s beneficiary,” says Andy Courteau, who co-directs the tournament with Capt. Billy Borer. www.abmt.vi

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER
Curaçao Yacht Club’s Blue Marlin Release Tournament
“The tournament won’t be in March, but instead sometime in August or September,” says organizer, Jan Geerings, of Blue Fin Charters. www.curacaoyachtclub.com

OCTOBER 3-7
International Cap Cana Billfish Shootout, Dominican Republic
Held in the heart of the Dominican Republic’s white marlin season, “this tournament is characterized by certified observers, hefty Calcutta’s and donations to local reputable charity foundations,” says director Alvarez. intlbillfish tourns.com

 

Allan Mattie of the winning sport fishing boat Head First at the PAIMT awards ceremony. Photo courtesy of PAIMT
Allan Mattie of the winning sport fishing boat Head First at the PAIMT awards ceremony. Photo courtesy of PAIMT

OCTOBER 12-21
Port Antonio International Marlin Tournament (PAIMT), Jamaica
“We may go back to a full week format instead of the three-day tourney of 2017,” says organizer DuQuesnay. Unique is the event-within-event Local Canoe Tournament, on October 13, where fishermen in 50 to 60 local single engine canoes try their luck. There’s also the Ms. Marlin Queen competition for scholarships. www.jamaicasportsfishing.com

 

Heading out of San Juan bound for the fishing grounds during the International Billfish Tournament
Heading out of San Juan bound for the fishing grounds during the International Billfish Tournament

OCTOBER 15-21
International Billfish Tournament, Puerto Rico
“We celebrate our 65th anniversary in 2018, and as leaders in conservation, we’ll be fishing light tackle with 30lb test line that has proven both exciting for anglers, especially for young anglers, and with less impact for marlin. We will also be sharing plenty of surprises,” says chairman Salvador Egea, Jr., of host Club Nautico de San Juan, Puerto Rico. sanjuaninternational.com

 

The ladies say fishing is always good in Aruba
The ladies say fishing is always good in Aruba

OCTOBER 18-21
Presidential Aruba Caribbean Cup
“The Fish House Island Bar & Restaurant will be completed and a venue for our parties,” says organizer Joan Vernon. “Fishing is always good in Aruba, which is the new ‘grand slam capital of the Caribbean’.” www.preschallenge.com

NOVEMBER 16-18
St. Kitts and Nevis Sport Fishing Tournament
After a hurricane-related hiatus in 2017, the event will be back. Anglers from five countries and territories competed the first year, 2016. Over US $20,000 cash, plus prizes, up for grabs. www.sknfishing.com

 

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

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