Well-oiled teamwork and a little help from above earned the team aboard the 52ft Tiara, Fair Prospect, the Top Boat prize in the 53rd Port Antonio International Marlin Tournament, in Jamaica. The blow-through of Hurricane Matthew shortened the event from four days to three. But the storm didn’t dampen the fun and exciting last minute action that shot the Fair Prospect team straight up to the top of the scoreboard.
“The first day was uneventful for us as far as billfish went, but we did catch several mahi, wahoo and a few barracuda,” says David Moss, Fair Prospect’s owner and angler.
Another team that also went billfish-less on the tournament’s first day was Safe Passage. The team aboard the 62ft Viking, owned and angled by Chris Berry with Jamaican Olympic sprinter, Yohan Blake, aboard as an angler, eventually finished second overall to Fair Prospect. It was a slow day for all tournament boats. In fact, only three blue marlin were released by the whole fleet. Luck changed the second day when anglers aboard both Fair Prospect and Safe Passage caught and released two billfish apiece.
“We had invited two priests from the local church along and things improved. We had a strike in a couple of hours and later another. We were elated and wanted to invite all the priests out for the last day, but it was a Sunday and they couldn’t come,” says Fair Prospect’s Moss.
Meanwhile, Safe Passage angler Mark Berry released a blue just after 08.00, while fellow angler Andrew Wilkinson did the same less than three hours later. At the end of the second day, five boats had scored two blue marlin. Safe Passage led on time. The next day, the boat continued as front runner well into the afternoon. That was until Moss and fellow Fair Prospect angler Raymond Silvera hooked up a double header.
“We had headed to the Henry Holmes Bank about 25 miles northwest of Port Antonio hoping for a third blue marlin or if not at least some eating fish. Nada. After several hours, we turned down sea and headed home keeping alert because mid-way there is a contour where we had had hookups in previous years,” explains Moss.
Bingo! The shotgun line screamed and as Moss reached the chair to fight his marlin the port outrigger snapped out and Silvera put on a belt and shoulder harness to reel in his half of the double header. Silvera was lucky; his fish stayed on the surface. Moss’s, however, sounded into the ocean’s depths on the other side of the boat, so he reduced drag and Silvera did a limbo move under Moss’s line so both men could continue their fights. It wasn’t long before the line on Moss’s spool reduced radically as the fish continued to dive. At the same time, Silvera was in the process of catching and releasing his marlin. This made it tricky for Capt. Joe Matalon who had to balance going forward to keep pressure on Silvera’s fish while monitoring the available line left on Moss’s spool in case he had to reverse. In the end, it all worked out. Both marlin were successfully caught and Fair Prospect won the Top Boat prize with four blue marlin releases.
Berry on Safe Passage attributed his team’s great runner up performance to preparation, teamwork and a good dose of luck.
“There are many things to like about this tournament,” says Berry. “Port Antonio is a beautiful place. We have been fishing with the same friends for many years. It’s quite a treat to fish with them as well as make new friends like Andrew who caught one of our marlin. Lastly, even though the tournament is a competitive sport, I naturally enjoy being out at sea fishing. It’s relaxing and calming.”
In total, 54 anglers representing Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Canada and the Netherlands aboard 17 boats released a total of 17 blue marlin.