Teamwork earned the anglers and crew aboard Magic V the Top Boat prize in the 19th Annual Caicos Classic IGFA Billfish Release Tournament. The event was hosted out of Blue Haven Marina and Resort, an Island Global Yachting (IGY) destination, in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), July 3rd-7th 2014.
“It’s really important to work as a team when billfishing,” says Dieter Decker, a part-time TCI resident and owner/angler of the winning 38ft Boston Whaler. “We’ve been together almost four years and it’s the second year for us fishing this tournament.”
Over 30 fisherman on six boats got off to a slow start with no recorded billfish releases on day one.
“We went 20 to 25 miles offshore where we had two bites for the day,” explains Decker. “They both pulled the hook. Two to three other anglers hooked up but no one was able to secure a release.”
The tide of luck changed for Magic V on day two. After heading to the same fishing spot and getting hopes up on a nibble, angler Denardi Belliard released an estimated 300 to 350lb blue marlin after an hour-long fight. No other billfish released by the tournament fleet meant Magic V jumped into the lead.
The gamefish and billfish bite picked up on the third and final day of fishing. Maid in Whales, while not seeing any billfish, secured the Largest Tuna prize with a 36.5lb yellowfin. Magic V hooked up a tuna too that was soon eaten by a 15ft shark that required the crew cut the line. Meanwhile Amos Luker, angler aboard the 27ft Stapleton, After 5, later released his team’s first blue marlin after a long battle. With no other marlin caught by lines out, it was Magic V that ultimately won based on time.
“We fish for fun more than the competition,” says Decker. “But when we enter a tournament, we go in to win!”
Magic V’s triumph earned them entry into the Offshore World Championship to be held in 2015 in Costa Rica. In addition, the Caicos Classic boasted over $13,000 in prizes donated by local businesses to help raise funds for The Edward C Gartland Youth Centre and The Billfish Foundation.
New this year, the tournament committee eliminated the use of human observers in favor of the increasingly popular use of video or photos to capture releases. To ensure fish were caught on the day in question, different colored armband/flag combinations were assigned to each boat. The fish, as well as the team’s colored band or flag for the day were to be captured on camera with either the bimini at the rod-tip or the mate with a hand on the leader, signifying an official release. Footage was reviewed by the committee at the end of each fishing day.
“Overall the bite was very slow, compared to previous years,” says Caicos Classic committee member Art Pickering. “I have my hopes up for a better bite next year … but that’s fishing!”