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Inaugural Trinidad Tarpon Bash a Blast!

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Hooking, as well as catching and
releasing, a total of 15 Tarpon is what led Hook
to earn Top Boat honors at the inaugural Trinidad Tarpon Bash,
held August 25 to 28 out of Chaguaramus,
Trinidad. Capt. Jonathan De La Rosa, at
’s helm and also an angler
along with Jessel Baston and
Steve Kost, landed himself as Top Angler as well as
picking up the Largest Tarpon award for releasing the most fish (six). No fish
were boated, the minimum weight requirement of 125 pounds not having been met.

Fifty-three anglers hailing from
the U.S. mainland and
Caribbean competed in this event,
which featured three morning and two afternoon fishing sessions.

“The fishing grounds in the
Bocas were a convenient 5-minute boat ride away from Crew’s Inn Hotel and
Marina, our
base,” said tournament director, Dan Jacobs. “The Bocas are a
series of islands off Trinidad’s
northwest coast. The water that flows between the Bocas is calm, protected, and
a high quality fishery due to its nutrient rich water and plenty of

Jacobs added, “The Tarpon
were running at their peak, but they’re a tough fish to catch. Tournament
anglers released a total of 62 Tarpon in the three days of fishing, but they
hooked up and lost a nearly equal number.”

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On the first morning of
competition, the anglers aboard Hook
showed their hands were hot as they caught and released three out of the
tournament’s first five Tarpon. Kost, as the
first angler registered in the Early Registration Category to release a Tarpon,
won himself a beautiful watch for this feat, sponsored by Joseph Henry Marine

In the
afternoon, Capt. Nicholas Telfer and angler Wayne Hadeed aboard the Trinidadian-based pirogue,
, found a hotspot. They hooked
up four Tarpon in the final 15 minutes of fishing for the day. Two Tarpon spat
the hook but the other two were released giving Telfer
and Hadeed a solid placement on both the angler and
boat scoreboards. 

continued its hot streak the
next morning. After a plague of pulled hooks that swept over the field of
anglers, a release apiece by Telfer and Hadeed gave Buccaneer
even more angler and boat points.

came back with a vengeance by
releasing a Tarpon minutes into the afternoon session. This put
neck and neck with
in contention for top

The last
session of fishing started off hot once again. Junior angler Paul Hamel-Smith,
aboard Mamzelle,
released the first fish of the morning just 10 minutes after lines in. This
fish, combined with another release, assured him the Top Junior Angler title.
Soon after, Hook once again found a
honey hole and its anglers released three more Tarpon
to assure their place as Top Boat.

Meanwhile, Julie Campbell, fishing from aboard Hard Play, fished hard the entire tournament and was still
trying to release her first Tarpon and position herself in the lady angler
category but just couldn’t keep the Jacks away. She finally hooked up and
released her first Tarpon during this last tournament session. Minutes later,
she released a second, a count that did earn her Best Female Angler.

$25,000 in cash and prizes was handed out during the tournament’s awards
ceremony, held at the Crew’s Inn Hotel and

“What is really unique about this event is the sling we used to
weigh fish right on the water and release them alive,” Jacobs said.
“This has only been done once in a tournament in
Boca Grande, Florida,
and then the scale was set up on the beach. Our contraption worked really well.
It’s something I think we’ll see more of in tournaments in the


Top Angler Category
1st Place—Jonathan
De La Rosa on Hook 600 points
2nd Place—Nicholas
Telfer on Buccaneer
(on time) 500 points
3rd Place—Jessel Batson on Hook 500 points


Top Boat Captain Award
1st Place—Hook with Captain
Jonathan De La Rosa with 15 releases
2nd Place—Buccaneer with
Captain Nicholas Telfer with 13 releases
3rd Place—Radical with Captain
Tony LaLoy with 7 releases


Largest Tarpon Category
(Determined by heaviest Tarpon and since none were weighed, goes to release

1st Place Jonathan De La Rosa on Hook with 6 releases

2nd Place Nicholas Telfer with 5
on Buccaneer releases (on time)
3rd Place Jessel Batson with 5 releases on


Best Junior Angler
Paul Hamil-Smith on
with 2 releases


Best Lady Angler
Julie Campbell on Hard Play with 2

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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