Size definitely matters. However, in this era of conservation it's points, or the number of fish released, that adds up to winning a tournament. Add to this the final day excitement of a tie-breaker and watching to see who catches the most fish first, and you can easily understand what made the 42nd Budget Marine Spice Island Billfish Tournament, fished January 24 to 27, out of Grenada, so exciting. Gud Tyme, out of Trinidad and Tobago, took the Top Boat prize with 2400 points while fellow islanders aboard Temptation finished Second Top Boat with an identical number of points.
It wasn't a straight shot to the top for Gud Tyme.
"They had an amazing quadruple hook up on blue marlin on day two and managed to successfully release the first three fish," says tournament director, Gary Clifford, "but lost the last one which was much bigger, apparently."
Temptation released two blue marlin and a sailfish the final day. It was enough to tie Gud Tyme on points, but not overtake them. This would have required at least one more blue marlin, white marlin or sailfish release by Temptation.
Iron Man, also from Trinidad and Tobago, finished third with 2100 points. The boat got off to a great start by hooking up a pair of blues on the first day.
In angler awards, Ryan Agar on Why Worry out of Trinidad and Tobago took first place with 1500 points, followed by fellow islanders Francois Mouttet on Majic Lady with 1300 points and Dominic Wallace on Blue Fever with 1100 points, respectively. Barbados' Michelle Elliot on Orion won the Top Lady award, while Trinidad and Tobago's Mouttet also picked up the prize for Top Release angler.
In total, the fleet released over 115 billfish during the three-day tournament.
New this year, organizers took the event virtual and posted a play-by-play of the catches on Facebook. As a result, says Clifford, "Our fans went from 93 the day before to 199 by the end of the tournament."
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.