Only time separated the top three boats in the highly-competitive St. Martin Billfish Tournament, presented by Delta Petroleum, and hosted out of Marigot, June 2nd to 6th. That’s because anglers aboard Stars, Habalo & Co and Blue Ocean were the first three boats out of the 25 total tournament fleet, to release two blue marlin apiece over three-days of fishing in St. Martin’s famed Marlin Boulevard. In the end, it was the team aboard Stars, St. Martin’s Eric Javois’ 37ft Boston Whaler that caught their prize-winning duo of fish first and took the prize for Most Blue Marlin Releases. What’s more, the Stars team earned additional prizes as the Blue Marlin Challenge Winner and Joe Brouard won Top Angler.
“Good organization and good vibes led to our success,” says Stars’ Javois. “We had very good weather conditions, but at the same time there was so much seaweed in the water over the east bank of St. Martin that it made it hard on the angler to have to clear the lines all the time and it made fishing somewhat slow. We didn’t catch anything the first day. Joe released two blue marlin the second day. The third day, Joe fought a good sized fish for two hours before he lost it and with it our team’s chance to get one more fish than Habalo & Co and Blue Ocean.”
Javois adds, “Joe is so passionate about fishing. In fact, he started me sports fishing. I love the ambiance of being at sea with cool friends who are really hooked on the sport.”
Stars will have its name inscribed on the tournament’s perpetual trophy. In addition, the win qualifies the team to compete in the 2016 Offshore World Championship in Quepos, Costa Rica, next April.
New this year, tournament organizers added a jackpot prize called the White Marlin Challenge. This award, like the long-standing Blue Marlin Challenge, is based on the most white marlin release points. This honor went to the team aboard the 65ft Hatteras, Living the Dream, from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
“The crew first thought the fish we released was a blue marlin, but after looking at the pictures it was clear that it was a white,” explains David Johnson, Living the Dream’s owner and one of its anglers. “This bummed us out because white marlin score only 100 points compared to 300 for blue marlin. Then, we realized that we had won the White Marlin Challenge and we were all glad it was a white.”
Total cash payout in prizes for this year’s tournament was $38,300. A total of nearly $45,000 would have been paid out except the largest blue marlin prize was not awarded since no fish were killed and brought to weigh-in. This conservation-oriented tournament has a 400lb minimum release weight for blue marlin.
Famous Jamaican reggae band Raging Fyah entertained at the prize giving ceremony.
Next year, the Saint Martin Billfish Tournament will take place June 14th to 18th. For more information, visit: www.billfish-tournament.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.