Fishermen must get their bait ready

Cayman’s fishing scene is getting a big bite this month.

That is because the annual Billfish Release tournament gets going next weekend.

Cayman’s pristine blue waters are slated to be a blur of activity as boaters go in search of big fish August 22-23.

In particular anglers will be trying to catch all species of marlin (whether white or blue) in addition to swordfish, spearfish and sailfish.

Unlike other tournaments the fish caught will not be kept. Instead the fish will be photographed with the crew and a tournament number card at the side of the boat as proof of catch. From there the fish will be released promptly back into the water.

Cayman Islands Angling Club President Franklin Thompson says the tournament comes at a time when marlin is in great supply in Cayman.

‘August is a good month for marlin. There is normally an abundance of them in Cayman in the 100-200lb range. I’m anticipating a minimum of 25 boats for this tournament.’

Thompson went on to say the tournament is an opportunity for local anglers to show their concern for the environment.

‘Through this tournament the angling club shows its support for conservationism. None of the fish will be boated and will all be released.’

Registration for the competition takes place next Thursday at Oasis in Grand Pavilion.

Once the tournament wraps up a prize-giving ceremony gets going on Tuesday August 25 at Oasis.

Anglers have plenty incentive to reel in a big catch. The first place prize is $2000, second place gives a Penn International 50lb Rod and Reel Combo and the third prize is a Carey Chin art piece.

Substantial prizes will also be on offer for lady and junior anglers.

The tournament entry fee for all anglers and boat crews is CI$200.

News of the tournament comes two months after the last major event. The Brac Jackpot took place this May and featured fishing action mostly in Cayman Brac (though anglers were welcome to fish in Grand Cayman waters).

Robin Walton, who was on the boat ‘Reel Tight’, walked away the biggest winner with US$5000 for nabbing a 54.6lb Wahoo that was both the heaviest fish and the heaviest Wahoo caught.

Another big winner included Jackie Ebanks and the ‘Can Do’ crew. Ebanks won the Lawford Tatum memorial trophy and US$1500 for the heaviest Dolphin. Her catch weighed in at 36lbs.

Meanwhile Chrishen Freeland, on the ‘Reel Nouty’ boat, won US$1000 for catching a 38lb Dolphin in Grand Cayman.

The event drew some 13 sponsors in Big Daddy’s, Cayman Brac Power and Light, CICO, CNB, CUC, Dan Scott, Home Gas, Kirk Freeport, Kirk Marine, Paramount Carpets, Scott’s Landing, Scott’s Industries, and West Star TV Ltd.

It also coincided with the unofficial opening of the Alexander hotel on Cayman Brac.

After the Billfish release event this month, the next big happening in local fishing is the Junior and Ladies tournament. That event is tentatively scheduled for September.