Perseverance, patience and repositioning from one fishing hole to another paid off for the Top Boat team in the Blue Waters Billfish International Offshore Invitational, hosted by the Barbados Game Fishing Association, October 13th – 14th. Seventeen teams, with 104 anglers, battled it out on an enviable combination of slick calm seas and a hot sailfish bite. In the end, it was Barbados-based David Hamel-Smith’s 30-foot Bertram, Mamzelle, with five sailfish and one blue marlin release.
“We missed some opportunities to catch fish on the first day. However, we ended with one blue marlin which was good enough to put us in second place, behind some close friends on the Happy Hunter,” tells Hamel-Smith. “The second day started slowly. We missed one sail in the morning and then heard that the Happy Hunter had released a sail. We decided to try fishing in a new area and were quickly rewarded with a sail followed by another in quick succession. This pushed us straight to first.”
The Mamzelle team of Hamel-Smith, his brother Paul, Gregory Joseph, Luke DeFreitas and Geoffrey DuBoulay, hadn’t sealed the deal on a win yet. Instead, the Happy Hunter team, led by tournament director Josh Delmas, soon reported a double-header hook up of a blue marlin and sailfish. Ultimately, the blue was lost and sail released, which returned Happy Hunter to the top. Mamzelle came back, kept at it and were able to release three more sails quickly to take the lead again and cement the team’s win.
“We made the transition to pitch-baiting and circle-hook fishing a few years ago and we’ve stuck to it,” says Hamel-Smith, of the secret to the Mamzelle team’s success. “In our last two tournaments, we did not even let a J-hook touch the water and in those two tournaments we’ve racked up a second and first place. While we still make a lot of mistakes and we lose some fish, we’re committed to the technique as we think it vastly improves our catch rates.”
The Blue Waters Billfish International Offshore Invitational is a qualifying event for the 2019 Offshore World Championship, fished annually in Quepos, Costa Rica. The Mamzelle team earned entry with their Top Boat win.
“We can’t wait to go. The last time our team travelled to Quepos we ended up coming fourth overall out of 61 boats representing teams from countries all over the world. We missed third place by less than one fish. Time to change that!” says Hamel-Smith.
The Happy Hunter team finished second in the boat standings, while fellow Barbados-based team, Sweet Place, rounded out third.
In total, the fleet collectively released 16 sailfish and one blue marlin.
“Five sailfish releases is a great day, so I am happy my friends were able to do it and take home the win,” says Delmas. “Special thanks to the teams that made it from Antigua and Grenada and our sponsors Blue Waters, King Ocean Services, Cockspur Rum, Jack Daniels Whiskey and Chickmont Foods Ltd. Next year will be bigger and better and we look forward to seeing everyone again.”
For full results, visit: https://bgfa.profishingtournaments.com/
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.