A competitive spirit, tons of talent, and a hunger to best the third place finish earned last year led Trinidad & Tobago’s team Vesper to win the 22nd St Lucia International Billfish Tournament (SLIBT), hosted by the St. Lucia Game Fishing Association November 5th – 9th out of IGY Rodney Bay Marina.
Captain Gerard ‘Frothy’ Silva, who has fished this tournament eight times and the last two at the helm of Vesper, a 50ft Viking, fished a FAD (fish aggregating device) to the northeast of St. Lucia the first two days. On the first day, the team’s anglers caught and released two blue marlin, and the second day a third blue marlin and a longbill spearfish.
“On the lay day we heard news of a great FAD to the south,” explains Silva. “So, after serious espionage, we found out it was located in the St. Vincent passage approximately 12 miles south of St. Lucia and 37 miles from the IGY dock at Rodney Bay. It was a good move to fish this FAD as we caught six out of the ten blue marlin we hooked on that last day of the tournament.”
Team Vesper’s main anglers were Jerome Mcquilkin, who caught three blues and ultimately placed second in the angler category, and James Lathon, who caught two blue marlin and the one spearfish. Ayoub Kabli, Nigel Garcia, The Hon. Anil Roberts (Minister of Sport in Trinidad & Tobago) and Silva each caught one fish apiece. The team ultimately totaled nine blue marlin and one spearfish release.
“We are a very competitive team,” Silva explains. “We made little or no mistakes, which I was very pleased about. Marlin fishing is a team effort, so when everyone does their part it usually goes well.”
The SLIBT is a qualifying event for the IGFA World Championships. Vesper’s win earned the team an invitation to compete in the championships set for April 2013 in Costa Rica.
Meanwhile, it was St. Lucia’s Franck Cherchel, fishing aboard the 36ft Luhrs, Exodus, which placed second in the boat category with a total of seven blue marlin releases, who won Top Angler with the catch and release of five blue marlin.
“The captain and his team and my more than 20 year experience sport fishing is what led to our success,” Cherchel explains. “Every day we paid attention to the fishing tackle, the fresh baits, and the captain’s direction with the possibility of always having a strike.”
Nineteen boats and 89 anglers hailing from St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, St. Vincent, Martinique, Antigua, the USA, Scotland and England, collectively released 52 billfish including 41 blue marlin, nine sailfish, one white marlin and one longbill spearfish in three days of fishing.
In other awards, Trinidad & Tobago’s Allison Devaux fishing aboard Pair A Dice collected the Top Female award with the release of one blue marlin. Top weight fish that came to the scales include a 349lb blue marlin caught by Trinidad & Tobago’s Francois Mouttet aboard Magic Lady, a 31lb wahoo reeled in by Cherchel, and a 30.5lb dorado (mahi-mahi) caught by Trinidad & Tobago’s Ryan Agar on EZ Access.
The St Lucia International Billfish Tournament is also a qualifying event for the Southern Caribbean Billfish Circuit, which includes annual tournaments on the islands of Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia and Martinique. All boats and anglers entered in the circuit received points for attendance and scores. The boat with the most points earned throughout the year wins a custom perpetual trophy.
The 23rd SLIBT will take place October 1st – 4th 2013.