The Bonaire International & Local Fishing Tournament held in the bountiful waters of Bonaire was another huge success.
Organized by NAPA and the It Rains Fishes restaurant, the end of January tournament has become a staple event for ardent anglers from the ABC islands and neighboring Venezuela.
The tournament consists of two categories: The international division – a catch and release billfish competition, and the local division; a competition for local fisherman where the prizes go to boats with the most catch in kilos.
Twenty-nine boats battled it out in the international division and a total of 34 billfish were released during the two-day tournament that boasted perfect weather conditions.
One of the tournament’s more unique features is the Bimini start for the billfish category. All boats gather at an invisible line between the It Rains Fishes restaurant and Klein Bonaire. At 07:00 the horn blasts and the yachts head off. Lines are cast at 07:30, and all lines must be out by 16:00 sharp. Vessels must be moored by 17:00 to hand in cameras and the catch of the day.
This year, anglers from Aruba, Venezuela and Curaçao joined those from Bonaire to compete for the coveted overall win. It was an exciting weekend with a suspenseful and thrilling conclusion. All top three finishers had amassed 900 points by the last day but, ultimately, it was Aruba’s Naira that took first place and the US$6,500 prize, winning on accumulated points. The time of a strike is essential in this competition, if there’s a tie, the yacht with the fastest strikes takes the win.
This year there was an astounding three-way tie, but Naira’s anglers got the earlier strikes placing them in the top position. Paso Largo, from Curaçao, finished in second place scooping the $3,500 prize.
The battle for third was an edge of your seat, nail-biting race against the clock. Just one minute before lines in Tara, from Aruba, then in fourth place, got a strike, knocking Aruba’s Iliza from third place down to fourth, which put her out of contention. Tara’s late strike secured the third prize of $2,000.
In the local division, Kuna took the win for boats under 17 feet, with a total catch of 86 kilos, while Fatima finished tops in the category for boats over 17 feet, with a whopping 108.5 kilos.
Anglers and captains alike were rewarded with a delicious barbeque buffet during the awards ceremony after which the party really got rocking with performances by several local DJs and bands. Slides of the day’s catch were also shown during the festivities.
Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the Bonaire International & Local Fishing Tournament and organizers hope to welcome even more international and local anglers to the event.
For results, pictures and information, visit: www.bonairefishingtournaments.com