He is one of the most winning sports fishing captains in the Caribbean. He’s also angled capably all over the world. What’s led to success for Captain Gerard ‘Frothy’ de Silva, who operates Hard Play Fishing Charters out of Tobago? Experience. De Silva has fished recreationally and professionally since the age of seven when he spent a two-week summer holiday on Gasperee Island, Trinidad, with his parents and grandparents.
“I fished long hours every day and night and caught hundreds if not thousands of small grunt, snapper, jack and other species,” de Silva says. “I’ve been hooked since.”
De Silva first went billfishing during the Trinidad & Tobago Game Fishing Association (TTGFA) Tobago Tournament back in 1981. His team didn’t catch any billfish. However, they did raise a small blue marlin that followed the boat for a long time. This magnificent blue fascinated de Silva and kept him coming back.
“To be honest I think that fishing chose me because I never thought of doing anything other than fishing for a living even before I finished high school,” he tells.
He started out fishing commercially in Trinidad from 1982 to 1989. He then moved to Tobago to continue his trade. While off-loading his catch one day at the Pigeon Point Jetty, he was asked by a group of visitors to take them on a fishing charter. It was the first charter for him and it was a great day. The group caught several big Dorado. This is how he decided to give the charter business a try and it’s been his profession ever since.
Today, he says, “I enjoy all types of sports fishing. I do quite a bit of light to medium tackle upon request and when targeting smaller species. However, I specialize in big game trolling and always target big fish, so I honestly like heavy tackle from 50 to 130lb test. My favorite is big game for billfish, particularly blue marlin. They are very acrobatic fighters that usually jump a lot. No fish can provide such excitement for all persons on board. Plus, the blue marlin brings out the best in each team member from the Angler to the wireman and the captain on the bridge.”
The highlight of de Silva’s fishing career came when he saw his first Grander (1000lb-plus) caught aboard the Anguilla off Madeira, Portugal. He was out on charter for only two hours when the mega marlin hit.
“I have caught many large blue marlin in Madeira and in the Caribbean since that time, but that Grander will always really stand out for me,” he says.
During his career de Silva has fished off Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Florida, the Azores and Hawaii for billfish and even fly fished for trout and salmon in Sweden, Norway and Finland. However, most of his fishing – for fun, charters and in tournaments – has taken place in the Southern Caribbean. It’s here he has fished all of the Southern Caribbean Billfish Circuit events. More specifically, he has won the Budget Marine Spice Island Billfish Tournament in Grenada eight times, the Barbados International Billfish Tournament five times, the TTGFA Marlin Madness tournament and Tobago International Game Fishing Tournament four times each, the St. Lucia International Billfish Tournament twice and, while he didn’t win, he did place in the top four, three times, in the Martinique Billfish Tournament.
De Silva will be heading back to Madeira this summer, specifically Ponto do Pargo.
“I have caught quite a few big marlin at this location and we got two Junior World Records for big eye tuna in this area last summer,” he says. “I believe this will be the place where someone will catch the new world record all tackle blue marlin. Hopefully, I will be there when she bites.”