Nicholas Jones is a young Caymanian whose profile in fishing is on the rise. After nabbing a massive catch last week his potential to excel is evident.
Jones, 26, hauled in a 173.4lb yellowfin tuna roughly 11 miles off Northwest Point in West Bay, Grand Cayman. He was on a 26ft Panga boat called Liquor box alongside boat captain Eric Rivers and Charles Ebanks. The tuna set a new Cayman men’s 130lb test record and dwarfed the previous mark of 74lbs set by Keith Strang in 1998. It also is a new 80lb test record. The fish was just 16lbs off the Cayman record for heaviest tuna catch, which stands at 189.4lbs after being set by Rick Recor in 1989.
The South Sound native was quick to give an animated account of what happened in reeling in the tuna.
“We were just within sight of land and we saw two frigate birds circling overhead and decided to slack back two naked flying fish thinking they might be on dolphins,” Jones said. “On the first pass there was a massive boil by my bait and he’d inhaled it. I knew right away it was no dolphin. I stuck him with the drag and it was game on. The fish went straight down, as all tunas do in a fight. It ran half of my line off the reel.
“I jumped into a black magic belt and fought the fish stand-up the entire time. The fight was 45 minutes and I had to resort to being clipped into the harness for the last 20 minutes because my bicep was about to give out! Those last minutes of the fight were inch by inch gains on the fish. Charles was getting ready to jump over board and put the gaff in him. So finally I convinced Charles to stay in the boat and got him within range and we sunk two gaffs in the beast before bringing him onboard.”
Captain Rivers, who hails from West Bay alongside Ebanks, states fishing with Jones was an experience in more ways than one.
“This is the second time I’ve caught a big fish,” Rivers said. “Normally I fish for marlin with Charles. I’ve been fishing for awhile so this is not the first time I’ve been out to sea with Charles. As a proud born-and-bred West Bayer, he and I actually grew up together and went school together. With Nick this is actually the first time I’ve fished with him and hopefully we can catch more fish. We’ll see what happens.”
For his efforts Jones got a substantial payday. After the fish was weighed at the Grand Harbour dock, King Flowers (representing the Brasserie restaurant) snatched up the tuna and paid CI$7 per pound. That equates to roughly a $230 cash pay out for each crew member. Jones, who works in the Finance department at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, has been fishing for a number of years and states the tuna catch was great as it put his name in the record books and made him some extra money.
“It is actually a new record for the line class that it was caught on, which is nice. It is a nice way to finish up the trip, considering I took a vacation day to do it. With King buying the fish I guess that will be on the Brasserie menu soon. It’s good that the price is pretty much set as fuel costs have gone up. King will always pay top dollar so it’s good he stepped up to buy it.”
Interestingly Jones comes from a family with a solid link to sports in Cayman.
Brother Rob is also a fisherman and won a cash prize this year at the 2010 Billfish catch-and-release tournament. Dad Richard is a golfer and recently took part in the Cayman Amateur Golf Championship back in April at the North Sound Golf Club.
Ultimately Nicholas states he intends to keep fishing and is looking forward to next month.
“If I can find a high bidder for my services then I’ll fish in the lions and rotary tournament in November.”