Finding the right spot to fish proved the secret to success for Douglas, the Top Boat team in the Marlin Division at the Antigua & Barbuda Sport Fishing Tournament, fished May 19 and 20, out of Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua. The Guadeloupe-based sport fishermen, along with teams aboard 20 other boats, were challenged by 20-plus knot winds, 8- to 12-foot seas and heavy seaweed. Yet it was the Douglas’ keen positioning by Captain Philippe Nouy that led to a first-day marlin catch by angler Olivier Nouy, and earned the team their win, Nouy the Top Angler prize and Capt. Nouy the Top Tag & Release Captain in the same division, all based on time.
“We really had to adapt ourselves to the difficult conditions and sargassum weed,” explains Nouy. “That’s why we made the decision to go east of Antigua, where there is a strong stream of water and forget fishing at the FAD (fish aggregating devices) where big patches of weed congregated.”
Just after lines in, at 8.00am, the team aboard Douglas had its first strike. Nouy grabbed the rod and at first thought he had a wahoo on the line because of the light tug compared to that of a billfish. Seconds later, he saw the blue marlin he hooked jump out of the water off the boat’s starboard side. The relatively small, or about 150-pound marlin, would have been an easy catch and release if not for a big ball of sargassum that trapped the swivel. Yet Nouy eventually accomplished this feat with a release some 45 minutes later.
“The second day, we returned to the same place and at 8:30am we had a big strike. It wasn’t a marlin, though, but a mahi-mahi weighing 30.4-pounds,” says Nouy, who earned the second largest mahi prize for this catch. “A little while later, we saw a small blue marlin come up to the teaser. We hooked it. Then, after nearly spooling the reel of line, we lost it. So, we ended the tournament with one blue marlin released and two mahi total.
The Douglas team’s win qualifies them to compete in the 2019 Offshore World Championship in Costa Rica.
Three other anglers – Gilbert Bacou aboard Appolon, Roland Azur on Chok Dee II, and Ruth Liney on Rum ‘N’ Coke – released a blue marlin apiece, though all after Nouy on Douglas.
Meanwhile, the catch of 253lb of fish earned Salt Shaker A, the Top Boat prize in the Sporting Division.
“We went to the South Bank 12 miles offshore,” says Antigua’s Nick Fuller, who owns the 55-foot Hatteras and fished the tournament with his grandchildren. “Both days we caught multiple wahoo and mahi-mahi and ended up winning by most poundage. The nightly parties both days were great fun with a couple of thousand people at the dock in Nelsons Dockyard.”
Globally-renowned, Florida-based marine artist, Carey Chen, participated in this tournament for the second year. This year he painted and auctioned off one of his works at the Awards Ceremony. Last year, he fished.
“I saw some of the biggest marlin and tuna brought in to Antigua last year. One marlin over 730-pounds and tunas in the 150-pound range,” Chen says.
The Antigua & Barbuda Sport Fishing Club hosted the tournament.
“We are very grateful for the support of the fishermen who against all odds still decided to take part, and to the many who came to the event to socialize,” says tournament director Robert Hall.
For full results, visit: www.antiguabarbudasportsfishing.com. The Club’s next event is the Francis Nunes Jr. Memorial Fishing Tournament & Seafood Festival on September 29 and 30.