They hail from the land-locked prairies of Alberta, Canada. However, Doug Cumberland and his team aboard the 47ft Bertram, Head First, certainly showed their prowess on the Caribbean Sea when it came to billfishing. The team aboard Cumberland’s Negril, Jamaica-based boat caught and released three blue marlin to earn Top Boat in the 54th Port Antonio International Marlin Tournament (PAIMT), held October 25 to 29. To win, the self-named ‘Alberta Marlin Fishing Team’ followed the advice of a wise old Jamaican fisherman. That is, says Cumberland, “if you want to catch fish, you have to put the ass time in sitting and waiting.” They did just that, never quitting, and it paid off in a total of five awards.
“The first day, after the official start, we went three to four miles east of Port Antonio, heading into heavy seas with six- to eight-foot swells. To add to the elements, we hit a rainstorm,” explains Cumberland. “We turned west and before long hooked up a 12- to 15lb barracuda. In the afternoon, we caught four mahi-mahi in the 15lb range. The tournament fishing day ended at 5pm, so we started in at four o’clock. Closer to port, with only 15 minutes left, our angler Alan Mattie hooked a blue marlin. It took him until 5:30 to successfully land it, tag it and release it. A great way to end the first day!”
Head First were one of four teams to score marlin on the first day of fishing. The team ended fourth of the scoreboard, being the last team to release its blue for the day.
Day two, Head First headed further offshore on calmer seas and was rewarded with a couple of mahi-mahi. By noon, Alan Mattie released a blue marlin, followed by yet another by mid-afternoon. This duo of billfish for the day, and trio over two days, put Head First in the Top Boat lead going into the final day of fishing.
“We headed out east again, caught a mahi-mahi, and then decided to run west,” Cumberland explains. “Around noon we got a strike. The marlin actually hit two lures, but we didn’t hook him. The tournament ended at three o’clock on the last day, so at that point all we could do was wait and see if someone had caught more than us. It was at the awards party that we finally found out we had won. It was a great feeling, and to have finally won on our 10th anniversary of attending this tournament, made it extra special.”
The Head First team’s Top Boat win earned them coveted entry into the Offshore World Championship, set for April 2018 in Quepos, Costa Rica. In addition, Mattie won trophies for being the Oldest Angler as well as Angler who caught the most marlin. Stanley Carvalho and his brother Jack were awarded prizes for the captain and mate, respectively, who tagged and released the most marlin.
Seventeen boats competed in the PAIMT and caught and released 20 blue marlin in this year’s new-format three-
In addition, two other tournaments were held in Port Antonio during this same week. Desmond Gordon landed a 151lb marlin aboard My Time to win the one-day 33rd Port Antonio Local Canoe Tournament. Meanwhile, it was the team aboard Gabby Milan that released three marlin to top the inaugural three-day Superstars of Port Antonio Tournament. The Superstars tournament, along with the PAIMT and the Montego Bay International Marlin Tournament in September means Jamaica now has three events to qualify teams to compete in the Offshore World Championship. This, plus other qualifiers throughout the region, increases the odds of a Caribbean team winning this prestigious event fished by teams from all over the world.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.