Experience paid off for the winners of the St. Lucia Game Fishing Association’s International Billfish Tournament. Fished out of IGY’s Rodney Bay Marina, October 17th – 20th, team Magic Lady released six sailfish and two blue marlin plus caught two dolphin (mahi-mahi) to earn Top Boat, plus three additional prizes. The Trinidad-based team’s lucky strikes were part of a winning streak that saw Magic Lady also capture top boat titles in Grenada’s Budget Marine Spice Island Billfish Tournament in January, the Trinidad and Tobago Game Fishing Association’s Marlin Madness tournament in April and the Tobago International Game Fishing Tournament in June. This is impressive since in the St. Lucia event alone, team Magic Lady competed against eight other boats and nearly 50 other anglers.
“We fished by two FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) located on the west coast of St. Lucia for the three days of the tournament,” says Michael De Freitas, captain of the 45-foot Cabo, Magic Lady, which suffered mechanical problems leading the Trinidad team to charter the 43-foot Bertram, Rocky Bluff, from Captain Mike Hackshaw’s fleet, to fish the tournament. “By 7am on the final day of fishing, angler Ryan Agar had already released a sailfish, and Glen Charlett a blue marlin, and we were then one release ahead of the boat, Blue Fever. All of a sudden, the right rigger came down and Ryan came tight, saying ‘I think it’s trash or a garbage bag!’. Well, his trash jumped a few moments later and we had another sailfish release to add to our team’s score.”
In addition to team Magic Lady’s Top Boat victory, Agar ended as Top Angler and Charlett finished fourth in the angler standings. Agar also caught the largest dolphin of the tournament. Francois Mouttet, Isaiah Aleong, Roger Aleong, Christian Hadeed and Barry Williams were the other anglers and crew on the Magic Lady team.
“The only secret to our team’s success is that we all fish together regularly and not just during a tournament. This year, the conditions during the tournament were not ideal so sticking to a small area where we caught all of our fish was a major factor as well,” says De Freitas.
In other awards, Lucky Strike, with Captain Mike’s owner, Bruce Hawkshaw, at the helm, won the Best Local Boat prize. One of the anglers aboard was nine-year-old Maia Hackshaw, who took home the Best Female/Junior Angler award.
The prize for the Best Hard Luck story went to St. Lucia’s Geoffrey Duboulay, aboard the boat Maverick. Duboulay fought his fish and got it to the side of the boat. But before he could release it or even get the required photo for an ‘official’ release, the sailfish straightened the hook and swam away. Had the cameras caught the fish, it would have counted as a release since Duboulay had the leader right in his hand. Without photographic evidence, the tournament committee had no choice but to disqualify the catch.
“The seas around St. Lucia are teeming with fish making our tournament one of the best for chances at snaring a marlin,” said tournament director Elizabeth Andrew-Rose. “Our tournament this year went very smoothly, with a great deal of the camaraderie which always surrounds a great event like this. From all reports, the anglers had an amazing time and will be returning next year.”
*Next Saint Lucia Billfish Tournament: October 29th – November 2nd 2019