Fishing exceeded expectations at the 39th annual Spice Island Billfish Tournament, held out of the Grenada Yacht Club January 16-19, when 175 anglers on 35 boats collectively released ninety billfish, plus a couple of large yellow fin tuna.
Tournament director Gary Clifford tells the tale: “This year, as a new feature, the boats paraded out through the Carenage area of St George’s on the way to the bimini start behind the cruise ship jetty. This gave the public an opportunity to view the boats up close and personal before they headed offshore to find the fish. At the bimini start Crazy Horse, Magic Lady and Grey Ghost were notably quick off the mark as was the new super-sized Afunday, which has to be one of the quickest boats to ever fish the tournament – 44 knots!”
Lines in started five minutes after the start at 7:35 am.
“Anyone who was concerned at the amount of green water everywhere, instead of our usual cobalt blue, need not have been – it was full of fish!” says Clifford.
The fleet released 28 billfish on Day One. The action got started when Challenge II and Risky Business got off to an early lead by each releasing a sailfish, shortly followed Finesse. White marlin releases were reported for High Spirits and the tiny catamaran, Gecko. Ocean Spirit, from Barbados, scored the first blue marlin release, followed by countrymen and 2006 winners, Legacy. Pair-a-dice, who had made a late arrival from Trinidad the day before due to computer-based engine problems, scored two releases on sailfish. Luhred Away had a double release on white marlin and later added a blue marlin release.
Boats that ventured north found whales feeding accompanied by large yellow fin tuna. Trendsetter caught no fewer than 11 yellow fin, the biggest at 150 pounds. Nigel Hypolite fishing on local boat, Crazy Horse, caught a huge bull dorado – weighing 53-pounds. This whopper fish beat the long-standing tournament record and earned him a US$375 prize.
Come Day Two, Zu Zu II, Equity and Hard Play II released blue marlin in the early morning followed by High Spirits with a white marlin. Grey Ghost started off an excellent day of fishing by finding a patch of promising patch of water and releasing four sails and a blue in that area. Hard Play II, from Tobago, was not to be outdone and added two sails and another blue release to their first catch. In addition, they lost one blue marlin shortly after the hook up due to a backlash and Capt. “Frothy” de Silva reckoned that it might well have been over 1000 pounds. Par-T-Time from Trinidad put everyone in the shade, however, as they scored no less than four sailfish releases – plus a white and a blue – for a Grand Slam. Luhred Away also achieved a tournament grand slam.
While the luck was running for some boats, Gecko surely had the worst luck story of the tournament. The anglers released five billfish overall, including a very large marlin at the end of Day Two, however photographic and other problems disqualified all but two.
Lay Day festivities were held on the beach at the Grenada Yacht Club, where a buffet of excellent seafood dishes and fish chowder was appreciated by all.
The last day of fishing, Day Three, saw heavy winds and the rough seas. Hard Play II proved up to the task and added two sailfish and a blue marlin release to their already impressive score. Par-T-Time tried hard, but was only able to score one sailfish. Challenge II remained consistent and added two blue marlin releases to their tally. Finesse was last as they were first – finishing off the competition with a final sailfish release.
In total, says Clifford, “Fifteen blue marlin were released, one blue marlin was landed, 54 sailfish were released and nine white marlin were released. Two dorado, one wahoo and 11 yellow fin tuna were brought to the scale.” An awards ceremony and closing dinner were held at the Grenada Yacht Club.
The boat Par-T-Time of Trinidad & Tobago, owned and skippered by Robert Stauble, placed second overall in the Boat Category. Among Stauble’s many prizes was a cheque for U.S. $500 which he kindly handed over to the event Chairman, asking him to donate it to one of the Children’s Homes in Grenada. The Committee selected the Queen Elizabeth Home for Children.
First place boat: Hard Play II (Tobago), second: Par-T-Time (Trinidad), third: Grey Ghost (St Lucia).
First place angler: Matthew Armstrong (Challenge II), second: Christian Hadeed (Par-T-Time), third: Ronald Worthman (Hard Play II).
Top release angler (3 releases): Matthew Armstrong (Challenge II, Trinidad)
Top release boat (8 releases): Par-T-Time (Trinidad)
Top Female angler: Cladia Calase (Legacy, Barbados)
Top Grenadian boat: Risky Business