CNN Travel named Klein Curaçao one of the ‘10 Top Caribbean Secrets’ in 2014 for its spectacular eight-mile-long soft sandy beach. Now, in the wake of the Curaçao Yacht Club’s (CYC) successful 49th International Blue Marlin Release Tournament (March 28-29) the cat is out of the bag about the great sports fishing in the waters off this small uninhabited island located 15 miles southeast of the mainland. It was here that the team aboard Naira, a 57ft Paul Mann, home-ported in Aruba, reeled in the catch that earned them Top Boat, while fellow Aruban Izaira Mansur earned Top Angler while fishing aboard the 58ft Paul Mann Alina in the same seas.
“Our success was partially due to the fact that we fished in different areas during the week leading up to the tournament and decided that fishing near Klein Curaçao would be the best bet for the tournament,” said Capt. Bincho Mansur.
On day one, Naira’s anglers released two blue marlin, one in the morning and one in the last 30 minutes, to put them in the lead. On the second day, they raised one blue in the same spot but she was a looker rather than an eater and didn’t take the bait. Even so, the team held on to its lead with their two blues to win.
The release of two blue marlin is also what earned the Alina’s Izaira Mansur her Top Angler title. Mansur, with her brother Capt. Eric Mansur at the helm, trolled between the northern stretch of Klein Curaçao and the mainland’s eastern cape. In less than two hours after baits, Mansur hooked up her first blue marlin, which dove straight down and resulted in an hour-long fight before the release. The second day, the team, which placed third overall in the boat rankings, went straight out to the same spot.
“It was a much slower day. We heard nothing on the radio all morning, not even one billfish release. I never gave up hope and made sure that we changed the baits every hour, changed our gear once in a while and sat patiently to wait for that fish,” says Mansur. “It was afternoon, just after we heard over the radio that another boat lost a blue marlin, when one came up behind the right teaser. I grabbed the rod in seconds and hooked-up. I thought to myself, ‘do or die’ and we can be in second place. This time, the captain didn’t give the fish a chance to dive. Instead, he reversed full throttle. The back of the boat was submerged in water but at that moment all I could think was reel, reel, reel. Soon the fish was in sight and we released it.”
Angler Kai Van Der, from Curaçao, fishing aboard Just Us, won the Junior Angler award.
Thirty four boats and more than 120 anglers from Curaçao, Bonaire, Aruba, Venezuela, Spain and the United States either caught or released 16 blue marlin and seven sailfish, plus nine mahi, two wahoo and a tuna. The fish caught were sold by the CYC with all proceeds donated to the local non-profit Hospice Arco Cavent. The conservation-oriented tournament has set a minimum release weight for blue marlin at 500lb. The tournament record, which remains unbroken, is an 803lb blue marlin caught on 50lb line in 1986.
“What started out in 1966 as a couple of friends competing against one another, has become one of the most prestigious blue marlin events in the area,” explains CYC fishing commissioner Bertie Perret Gentil. “We invite teams from all over the Caribbean and world to fish with us in 2016 for our 50th anniversary.”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.