Hard work and the skill to catch almost every fish that bit earned the team aboard the 45ft Hatteras, Exile, the top boat prize in the Budget Marine Spice Island Billfish Tournament (BMSIBT), held January 23rd to 26th out of the Grenada Yacht Club. “We caught a total of six sailfish and one white marlin,” explains Exile’s New Jersey, USA-based owner and one of its anglers, Dr. Frank Pettisani. “We only missed one sail in four days of fishing and caught all the rest.”
Fifty boats and 255 anglers competed in the 44th edition of the BMSIBT. This marks the fourth year in a row the event welcomed over 50 boats, making this one of the largest fishing tournaments in the Southern Caribbean.
“Grenada has a great reputation for excellent big game fishing,” says Pettisani. “What really attracted me was the shot at multiple species of billfish – blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish and especially the chance at a spearfish.”
Exile paraded out through St. George’s Carenage with the rest of the fleet in the tournament’s traditional Bimini start marked by the firing of a cannon. They headed 17 miles offshore to an area known locally as the ‘hump’ or ‘button’.
“We realized there were many places to catch fish and the majority of the fishing was better inshore at the 3,000ft contour,” Pettisani explains. “But, with our particular program of fishing, we wanted to target the edges of that offshore structure.”
Exile enjoyed a fantastic first day—releasing three sailfish out of five bites—to finish third in the standings. Meanwhile, Wahoo, from Trinidad & Tobago, took an early lead with two blue marlin releases, while ZuZu, out of Grenada, released three sailfish for second place based on time of catches. Junior angler Brian Williams enjoyed a fantastic birthday present by catching one of these sailfish off ZuZu, which ultimately won him the Top Junior prize.
Day two, the fishing was slower aboard Exile, yet the team’s catch moved them up to second place on the scoreboard by day’s end. “We caught a sailfish after a few hours of fishing and did not have another bite till late in the day when we caught another sail to give us two,” explains Pettisani.
Gud Tym, from Trinidad & Tobago, the tournament’s 2011 Top Boat winner, enjoyed an awesome day. They jumped into first place with the catch and release of a blue marlin, white marlin and two sailfish to win the Grand Slam Prize.
The third and final day of fishing started with an early morning sailfish release for Exile. “We didn’t have another bite until almost lines out,” says Pettisani. “That’s when a white marlin came up on the long rigger and my angling partner, Spencer Scharf, was able to hook and hold it for our last release.”
Not only did Exile win Top Boat, but Scharf’s catch and release of four sailfish and one white marlin earned him Top Angler.
Real Extreme, from St. Lucia, released two blue marlins and finished the tournament in third place overall, while Gud Tyme ended second.
In total, the fleet released 25 blue marlin, eight white marlin, 43 sailfish, plus 12 dolphin (mahi-mahi), 11 tuna and eight wahoo.
“Exile fishes year-round in tournaments throughout the Caribbean Islands,” says Pettisani. “We are always looking for team members to join us. If anyone is interested in tournament fishing, please have them email Exile Sportfishing at [email protected]”
For full results, visit: www.sibtgrenada.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.