Giant billfish gave trio mighty battle

On the surface it would seem to be far from an ideal time for fishing.

Cayman has been drenched by heavy rainfall of late and seen gusty winds that has created choppy seas.

giant billfish

The Strikeforce crew from left Charles Ebanks Curtis White and Captain Chris Briggs. Photo: Submitted

The Billfish release tournament in August saw only three catches in spite of a traditionally plentiful time of year.

Yet in the face of those negatives a trio of fishermen put their names in the record books.

Chris Briggs, Charles Ebanks and Curtis White etched their names in history with a new local record for swordfish catches.

Last month the trio, aboard the ‘Strikeforce’ boat, reeled in a 205lb swordfish on a 50lb test in the deep blue waters around Grand Cayman.

The catch came on a Sunday evening 12 miles off-shore from Rum Point in North Side.

According to the crew the fish was hooked at 6:20pm, just before sunset, and it was fought with for an hour and 24 minutes.

Curtis White served as the angler on the excursion and did most of the fighting with Captain Chris Briggs and crewmember Charles Ebanks standing by.

After reeling in the fish and securing it onboard the boat the crew made its way to Rum Point after nightfall for strong drinks and a quick photo-shoot.

Ebanks, a veteran of the local fishing scene, talked about the actual fight with the fish.

‘Within the first 10 minutes of hooking it we saw its head poke out of the water. We got a good look at it and said that looks like a pretty nice one so we’re going to see this thing through.

‘For about the next 20 minutes or so it got fairly close to the boat. I would say it was no more than 100 feet away from us.

‘Over the next 10 minutes it jumped up in the air a couple times. Then it went deep in the water for like 40-50 minutes before we were able to reel it in.’

As a ship-mate Ebanks did a lot of the small things like monitoring gas levels and cleaning the boat.

Included in his duties was helping to get the fish inside the boat.

‘Our adrenaline was going so we lifted that fish onto the boat and tied it down quick time,’ Ebanks said. ‘It was heavy but we did what we had to do.

‘I’ve been going fishing for years and my heart is always racing with a big catch.’

Even though the catch came weeks ago Ebanks is still in awe of how big the fish was.

‘A 50lb test is a small reel to try to catch a fish that big. An 80/100lb test would have been sturdier. So it was amazing to catch a 205lb fish with it.

‘Even though Curtis had the rod and was doing the fighting it was something to get it into that boat. I tell you it was some kind of catch.’

In addition Ebanks admits his excitement over the catch has stayed intact largely because of fishing enthusiasts eager for details and pictures.

‘It was only 30-40 people that night at Rum Point that saw us. Hardly anyone saw the fish and a lot of people have been asking me about it and when it would come out in the newspapers.’

Another person equally in awe of the catch is Cayman Islands Angling Club President Franklin Thompson.

Thompson, a solid angler in his own right, talked about the impact the catch can have on local anglers.

‘It’s further evidence to the records that have been broken in the last four years. There are large fish in Cayman’s waters and they provide lots of opportunities for our sport and our fishermen.’

In addition to the swordfish, Cayman has seen two record catches for Wahoo (that serves as the island record for the species) and escolar (a deep water fish also known as butterfish).

In fact, the escolar catch set an Internal Game Fishing Association all-tackle world record in 2007. The fish weighed in at 150 pounds and six ounces.

It doubled the previous world record at the time.

Thompson says a 610lb Blue Marlin that was recently caught would have been another record catch. However it did not qualify as it was not caught under IGFA regulations.

One of the interesting aspects of the record swordfish catch was the fact it was one of two for the crew that weekend.

‘It was quite an interesting night but an equally interesting weekend to say the least,’ Ebanks said.

‘We had a next catch off the south side of the island, around South Sound the Saturday before.

‘That catch came in the night too and was a 70lb swordfish. In fact there was only about 25 miles difference between the two catches so that worked out well for us.

‘At the end of the day they always put up a good fight, they are very good eaters and local restaurants love them.’