A commemoration and celebration highlighted two sports fishing tournaments fished out of Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua. The Mikie Pigott Jr. Memorial Classic, fished May 13, posthumously honored one of the islands great captains, and the Antigua & Barbuda Sport Fishing Tournament, held May 14 and 15, feted the 50th anniversary of this event, which has grown to become one of the leading tournaments in the Caribbean.
The Mikie Pigott Jr. Memorial Classic, formerly the Marlin Classic, was introduced seven years ago as a prestigious marlin-only event before the main tournament. This year, it was renamed to honor Pigott, who passed away suddenly last fall, and entry grew to 13 boats. The Antiguan team aboard Overdraft, a 40ft Barbados-build Fiberpol, won Best Top and a top prize of US $10,400.
“We went around 12 miles south east of Antigua,” tells Nicholas Hart, whose father Frank Hart captained Overdraft. “We saw four fish total that day only getting a chance at two of them. One we were able to tag and release and the other we lost right behind of the boat. Our team’s success consisted of good equipment, proper preparation and a combination of experience and enthusiastic youths.”
The Overdraft team, who, in addition to Hart, included first mate Christopher Gomes, Brian Nunes as second captain and anglers Brian Bailey, Joseph Nunes and William Duncan, has fished this tournament every year and also won it in 2012.
Canadian couple, Glenn and Jane Irish, chartered Pigott’s former charter boat, the Bertram 31 Vitamin B, to fish the late captain’s namesake event and in the Antigua & Barbuda Sport Fishing Tournament.
This is something the Irishs have done for over eight years, winning both the Marlin Classic and Marlin Division of the Sport Fishing Tournament in 2013 with Pigott at the helm, the only boat to date to win both of these events back-to-back the same weekend.
“We pulled together as a team and family with the single goal of having his boat on the podium and we did it,” says Jane Irish, about Vitamin B’s win of Top Boat in the Sporting Division with 177lb of game fish.
“We went northeast of Antigua and caught loads of fish. Together over the two days we caught more than 14 dolphin (mahi-mahi), eight-plus wahoo, and Glenn also caught and released a Blue Marlin (estimated at 300lb) on Sunday. From hook up to release Mikie was with us!”
The Vitamin B team members included Captain Toby Fuchs, mate Kareem ‘Irim’ David, second mate Calvin ‘BB’ Donaldson, Mikie Pigott’s wife Rhea and two children, Zaniah and Michael, as well as the Irishs as anglers.
Forty boats with 205 anglers from the Caribbean, U.S. and Canada fished in the Antigua & Barbuda Sport Fishing Tournament and nearly 800 people came out to the launch party to celebrate the event’s golden anniversary. In total, nine blue marlin, three white marlin and one sailfish were released, while 112 dolphin, nine tuna, 59 wahoo and five kingfish were caught.
“Sport Fishing is truly alive in Antigua and we invite everyone to these tournaments next year,” said Phillip Shoul, president of the Antigua & Barbuda Sport Fishing Club.
The 2017 Mikie Pigott Jr. Memorial Classic will be fished on June 2nd and the Antigua & Barbuda Sport Fishing Tournament on June 3rd and 4th.
For full results, visit: www.antiguabarbudasportsfishing.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.