A whopping 167 anglers aboard 37 boats set off in search of billfish and gamefish in the 38th Spice Island Billfish Tournament, which took place January 23 to 26 out of the Grenada Yacht Club. At the end of the competition, a spectacular 23 blue marlin, 32 sailfish, 5 white marlin, 11 mahi-mahi, 4 wahoo and 5 yellowfin tuna – including a record-breaking 173-pound tuna – were caught.
The tournament kicked-off with the fleet setting out in a Bimini start and the fish-catching action starting within the first half hour as Yes Aye (Grenada) hooked up a pair of yellowfin tunas. After this, the VHF crackled to life as Zu Zu (Grenada), Miss Abbie (Trinidad), Hard Play II (Tobago), Barbie Doll Too (Trinidad), Contendress (Martinique) hooked up, caught, released and in some cases lost an eventual 20 billfish, plus tuna.
On the second day, Zu Zu was back on the action again, but not as lucky as the first day, as anglers lost four fish out of five hook-ups. Delight and disappointment spelled the range of emotions aboard Why Worry (Trinidad). Angler and crew hooked up a monster marlin, which they played for 5 hours, before losing it almost within gaffing range as the swivel broke. This almost record catch led the crew to petition the tournament committee for the use of 80-pound line test next year. Meanwhile, the other boats, anglers and crews were doing their duty by releasing a total of 29 billfish – making this the best day of fishing.
The tournament’s layday festivities on land were almost as exciting as the fishing on sea. Says Richard McIntyre, tournament coordinator, “The Barbados anglers organized excellent dishes of seafood and fish chowder, which complemented the ‘oil down’ and roast pork provided by the tournament. And as usual, the bar was kept busy all day.”
The last day of fishing, 2006 winner Legacy (Barbados) as well as local Grenadian boats, Risky Business and Crazy Horse, all continued to add to their release scores. However, the big news was angler, Ian Hutson, aboard Ocean Spirit (Barbados) boating a record-breaking yellowfin tuna – a 173 pounder.
An awards ceremony and closing dinner was held on the beach at the Grenada Yacht Club.
Finally, a heartfelt rescue added an extra rainbow to the end of a wonderful tournament.
McIntyre explains, “Trinidad boat WRS was en route back home after the tournament only to discover a missing Trinidadian commercial fishing boat, which had been adrift for three days with engine failure and a flat battery. The crew of two was okay, and in fact were still fishing off the stern of the boat. WRS was able to raise Jonathan Fisher at Island Water World on the radio and they helped to coordinate a rescue by the Grenada Coastguard. This is a good example of sportfishing and commercial fishing boats helping one another. We are all brothers on the sea.”
1st: Houdini (Trinidad)
2nd: Legacy (Barbados)
3rd: Miss Abbie (Trinidad)
1st: Danny Swanson, Miss Abbie (Trinidad)
2nd: Bernard Johnson, Grey Ghost (St. Lucia)
3rd: Charles Ross, Houdini (Trinidad)
TOP RELEASE ANGLER
1st: Gregory Mendez, Charge Up (Trinidad) 3 sailfish releases
TOP RELEASE BOAT
1st: Houdini (Trinidad) 6 releases