Thursday, May 31, 2007
The 41st Annual Fishing Tournament (part 3)
Sunday was day two and the final day of the fishing tournament. Francis had a little “domestic” trouble and had let me know the afternoon before that he wouldn’t be able to come out with us. Not all the “better halves” understand fishing. Understandably I guess. When the alarm went off at 3 am Sunday morning I thought I had a hard time understanding it all too. Anyway, I managed to get up and out the door meeting up with the boys on time. We loaded the boat and set off for the little bank with hope of seeing the grander again. At first it was fairly quiet, but this time there were birds around the bank and it seemed like there would be more action. My dad arrived in the area on his boat the “Blue Rapid” and we fished near each other making passes in and out of the birds which were feeding in between the little tuna off the bank. We did a few runs back and forth over the “GRANDER” spot and didn’t see or hear a thing. Both of us decided to go a little further towards the thousand fathom (6000 feet) drop off. We were just passing over a section of water that my chart plotter said was 3600 feet deep when Big John screamed out: “strike on number 5”. The fish hadn’t taken any line at all but John had seen the rod tip bend suddenly and get slack again. I was closest to it and let go of the wheel to reel it in 15 feet very quickly. Sometimes when a marlin hits a lure it expects the lure to act like a fish. The fish if not killed would either speed up or slow down if injured. I reeled very quickly as if the lure was afraid….the marlin came after it and hit it again. Once again it didn’t get hooked, so I let the lure back about 20 feet “free spooling” the reel making the lure look as if it were an injured fish. When I stopped it the marlin hit it hard and was hooked. The reel erupted in noise as the marlin stripped the green 80 pound test line from it. It was Choppa’s turn to fight and he was strapped into the stand up fighting belt and harness in no time. The marlin wasn’t ready and it kept on taking out line as the other crew and I took in the other lines in order to slow down and turn towards the fish.
David did a good job of fighting with Tony holding the strap on the belt just to make sure we didn’t lose him over the side if the fish made a big run. John did his usual calm and sensible coaching of both the crew and captain and we all fought that marlin to the boat fairly quickly. It wasn’t hooked very well and was easy to release once we had taken the mandatory photo. In this tournament you are provided with cameras which you must use to record the fish as you release it. This way you are sure to get the 300 release points. We had done it and had now 300 under our belt. The leader at that point had 647so we were not out of the contest and were now full of enthusiasm and ready to catch more. We fished that area for a while longer without any luck and then decided to go to a FAD that we knew about from last year half way to Barbuda. On the way there was a spot I marked on my GPS chart plotter called “Marlin” and was where we caught the big one last year. Like clockwork we got a big strike as we passed the spot. The fish got off and we made another run over the spot. Once again we had a strike and Tony was on the rod fighting in his usual expert style in no time. This time however the fish “spat the hook” and Tony was left in great disappointment and with just a lure on the end of his line. “Lines back out” was the call and we were fishing again towards the FAD. Up ahead I saw my uncle’s boat “Nicole” and gave him a shout as we got close to the FAD. Nothing was happening with either of us and there didn’t seem to be fish around it at all. This wasn’t a good sign at all and after 45 minutes we turned back to head for the spot marked “marlin”. The toll of the past few days had torn away at me and fatigue was setting in big time. All of the crew had taken rests, and I knew that I had to rest. Tony took over driving and I lay down on the floor next to the consol. It took me a while to doze off and I think just at the time when I fell asleep a marlin decided to bite rod #1. The fish released it immediately just as Tony got to it. He let the line run back imitating a dead or injured fish. I took over and he got back to the helm. I reeled in quickly and as I was doing that the marlin attacked. This time the marlin was obviously more charged and starting taking a good amount of line. I usually speak about the reel screaming, but the ratchet noise this time was more like a fine symphony. We fishermen long for the music made by line being peeled off a reel. It ignites adrenalin, action, excitement and joy, fear and many other things all at once. Once again it was Choppa’s turn and he had the marlin under control in quick time once again. This time however the fish had not only taken more line but was also taking longer to come to the boat. We fought the fish for over 30 minutes this time and I could see that David was getting tired. As the fish got closer it changed direction several times and I had to work to keep the fish at the right angle and position to the boat.
Once or twice I had to make sharp movements in order to prevent the fish from going under the boat. It was a battle and we were ready for it which made it even more enjoyable. Finally John had the leader. According to International Game Fishing Association rules this now counted as a release, but in our tournament we not only needed to grab the leader but we needed to also get a photo. The second condition of our tournament rule was never to be accomplished because as John held the leader tight the fish made a dash under the boat and pulled free of the hook. We could see it right beside the boat but couldn’t get its head out of the water for the photo, and with the camera in my hand I had to watch it as it swam off missing a bit of skin from its lip. The hook was just hanging on all this time and we were now still stuck at 300 points officially. I told the boys that they had done an excellent job and as far as I was concerned we had just released our 4th blue marlin for the week. That was to be our last strike of the day and as the clock ran out towards 16:30 hours so did our chance of winning the tournament. Team Xtreme Caribbean Real Estate had done everything right and was totally prepared, but it wasn’t to be. Back at the dock we heard all the stories and made sure to make good use of the free rum bar put on by Mount Gay. Captain Frank Hart running his boat “Overdraft” was overall winner with biggest blue marlin at 347 lbs as well as most releases.
He also had a grand slam on Sunday with a spearfish and a Blue and white marlin release. All in all it was a fun event and we did well. On behalf of my excellent team I would like to thank Caribbean Real Estate for helping us take part in this years 41st Annual Sport Fishing Tournament. For more photos and reports please check http://www.antiguabarbudasportfishing.com/. The photos of the fighting above were taken by Big John and the fish back at the dock by me. I am sorry I haven’t been writing as often this week. I have been getting ready for an art show which opens tomorrow afternoon (FRIDAY) at woods gallery. Some of my photos will be on display.