Junior anglers stole the show at the Barbados International Fishing Tournament, held April 8 to 12 out of Port St. Charles Marina and hosted by the Barbados Game Fishing Association (BGFA). Josh Archer, on De Reel Viking, with Grandfather Bjorn Bjerkhamn at the helm, set a new tournament record by landing a whopping 524.5lb blue marlin. Fellow junior Jake Hurley, fishing aboard Capt. Rianna Thompson’s, Remember Me Now, earned Champion Angler.
“We were ten miles off the northwest of the island at about 9am when Josh hooked-up a blue marlin using a red lure and 130lb test line,” describes Bjerkhamn. “The fish took off like a train and we ran hard to set the hook. It jumped out of the water twice. We saw it was a big one, big enough to risk landing. Then it sounded. Josh had a hard time raising it. When he did, it ran out all the line Josh had taken in. We had to back down on it so that Josh could reel the line back in again. All in all it was a real fight.”
Archer, who just turned 15-years old, has been fishing with his grandfather all of his life. He earned Champion Junior Angler in both the Budget Marine Spice Island Billfish Tournament and this event two years ago at age 13. He has caught blue marlin in the past, but this one was extra special because it was a record-setter.
“The whole crew jumped up and hugged and danced at the scale when the marlin was weighed in. We did not expect to beat the record. It was a fantastic feeling to see my grandson get the record,” Bjerkhamn tells.
Archer was awarded a prize of $25,000 USD for his record-breaking blue marlin.
Rules call for all marlin under a minimum weight of 500lb to be released in this conservation-oriented event.
Meanwhile not only did Jake Hurley on Remember Me Now, top the angler scoreboard, but the entire team earned Champion Boat. This victory qualifies them to represent Barbados in the 2016 Offshore World Championships, to be held in Costa Rica next April.
In other awards, Antigua’s Ruth Liney aboard Double Rum N Coke won Champion Female Angler. Liney also landed the heaviest yellowfin tuna at 170.1lb, only 20lb short of the local record. Kyle Gill caught the largest mahi, a 22.3-pounder, of any junior angler, while Alex Cole on De Reel Viking reeled in the heaviest mahi overall for his 30.8-pounder. Finally, Anthony James onboard Subway Dragon caught the largest wahoo, a 32-pounder.
Twenty-eight boats with 165 anglers, including nine ladies and 18 juniors, hailing from Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada released 28 blue marlin, six white marlin and 11 sailfish. One blue marlin, ten yellowfin tuna, 74 mahi and three wahoo were landed. Many of the mahi and wahoo were donated to local orphanages and charities.
“The Barbados International Fishing Tournament attracts teams from around the Southern Caribbean Billfish Circuit as well as internationally,” says Craig Batstone, BGFA vice-president. “We invite everyone to fish with us next year.”
For more information, visit: barbadosgamefishing.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.