The release of two blue marlin and one white marlin on the final day of the Emerald Bay Championship earned Team El Cazador the Top Team prize for this third leg of the five-tournament Bahamas Billfish Championship (BBC), fished May 14 to 19. This come-from-behind victory came as a surprise to Teams Ocean Sixty-Two and Cabana, who led the field of thirty-eight boats with two marlin releases apiece going into the fourth and final day of fishing. Yet Team El Cazador – based in Quitman, Texas, and led by captains Sail and Bobby Ricks – poured on the fish-finding skill and pocketed a little luck to net not only the Top Team prize, but also Top Release and Top Crew trophies too.
This is the inaugural year for the Emerald Bay Championship, now part of the prestigious BBC. The event was based out of Emerald Bay on Great Exuma, the largest island of some 365 cays that make up the 90-mile long Exumas – the largest island chain in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Once a refuge for pirates, most of these serene cays are uninhabited or privately owned and a real playground for yachting, diving and sports fishing. Basing major fishing events has been impossible in the past due to limited marina facilities. However, the new Emerald Bay Resort and Marina have made this possible. In fact, the fishing starts just outside the marina entrance where there’s a marlin-rich drop-off.
After Team El Cazador, it was Team Ocean Sixty-two of Egg Harbor City, New Jersey, with team captain, John Leek, who finished in Second Place. Third Place, based on time, was awarded to Frank Sherman and Team Cabana, from Lighthouse Point, Florida.
The thirty-eight participating teams caught and released 26 qualified billfish during the tournament. Twelve blue marlin, thirteen white marlin and one sailfish were caught during the four days of fishing. All catches and releases were verified using time and date stamped digital images and affidavits signed by all aboard the boat.
Going into the fourth BBC tournament, the Treasure Cay Championship (June 4-9), series standings are: First Place – Captain Gas (4500 points), Second Place – Boomer (3695 points), Third Place – Palawan (3528 points), and Top Release Team – Captain Gas.
The BBC concludes with the Boat Harbour Championship, June 18-23, where the overall winner of the series will receive from title sponsor, Rolex, the Grand Prize of an all-expense paid trip to Queensland, Australia, to fish for black marlin on the Great Barrier Reef.