Fourth time proved a charm for team Double Dog at the 2009 Bahamas Billfish Championship (BBC), a quintet of tournaments that has taken place since 1973 in the Bahamas from April through June. After finishing third overall in the 2002 and 2003 BBCs and fourth overall in 2004, Don McKinney’s 66-foot Hines Farley amassed 7,000 points with the release of six blue marlin, three white marlin, six sailfish and bonus points from two legs to earn the Bahamas Billfish Champion title.
“Over the years, we have changed our style of fishing to maximize our catch ratio of all of the BBC’s target species,” says McKinney. “We are catching more fish, a greater variety of fish and, most importantly, we are having a great time.”
The BBC kicked off in Bimini and saw Robert Bennett’s Crush ‘Em win with one blue marlin release. Leg two, fished out of Central Abaco, saw Double Dog lead, with Don Schmidt’s 64-foot Viking, Omi Gosh, second.
“We’ve fished out of the Gulf of Mexico,” says Schmidt. “This is the first time we’ve fished the Bahamas and needless to say we love it.”
Bobby Jacobson’s 60-foot Viking, Marlin Darlin, won the first-ever Cape Eleuthera leg, then at leg four in Boat Harbour, Jacobsen hooked up and caught a 630-pound blue marlin.
“We didn’t have any bites all day when I saw something coming up on the left short,” says Jacobson. “I grabbed the rod and a big blue ate the bait. It was a 2-½ hour fight before we made the gaff. Lines were out at 4 p.m. and we were still fighting after that, so there was a huge crowd on the dock waiting for us when we came in.”
Even though the BBC is a catch-and-release series, there are rules providing for the boating of big fish over a minimum length.
There was an air of excitement on the final day of the finale Treasure Cay leg when both Double Dog and Marlin Darlin were hooked-up at the same time. But, the anticipation was short lived when Double Dog released a sailfish—its only billfish release of the tournament—just enough to land them a series win.
For full tournament results visit www.bahamasbillfish.com