His peers have given him the new nickname of small fish killer, but based on his recent catches he is reeling in anything but scraps.
The legend of Charles Ebanks in local fishing continues to grow with more big fish. His latest catch came last Thursday in the form of a 138.4 pound yellowfin tuna. The fish was hauled on a 80lb test line miles offshore aboard the 26 foot panga boat called Liquor box alongside captain Eric Rivers and first mate John Lawrus.
The tuna is 51lbs off the Cayman record set by Rick Recor in 1989. For Ebanks it is the second large tuna he has had a hand in catching within the last three months. The prior effort was last October alongside Rivers on the same Liquor box boat. South Sound native Nicholas Jones was the angler of record on that occasion.
Ebanks, 37, explains how and when this latest tuna was captured.
“We caught it on the banks at around 10am,” Ebanks said. “We came in to the Barcadere Marina to weigh it at 5pm. I used a piece of skip jack tuna four inches long as cut bait. The skip jacks are one of the yellowfin’s favourite foods and makes for good bait. It was 30 minute fight and that fish was a fighter.
“It went straight down and stayed down beneath the boat. It ran my handline to the end three or four times. About 25 minutes into the fight it gave up and came to the surface. It’s the biggest I’ve ever caught on a handline.”
One of the people who got a good look at the fight was Lawrus. An accomplished angler in his own right, the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park employee states he was not intimidated.
“I’ve been fishing with Charles many times,” Lawrus said. “I was two feet away from him when he reeled it in. I was shoulder-to-shoulder with Charles and I wasn’t worried. We’re a team and it was all about teamwork. Mind you I have my own 26ft panga called Taffy and it caught some big fish in last year’s international tournament.”
To no surprise the fish was quickly sold to local restaurant the Brasserie and owner King Flowers. It fetched a healthy CI$830.40, which turned into a roughly $277 cash windfall for each crew member. The tuna was one of seven fish Ebanks reeled in that day.
The man originally from Honduras, who has called Cayman home for over 28 years, states it was business as usual.
“There were four other tunas about 25lbs and up along with two wahoos/queen fish. Everything was sold. One person bought one at the weigh-in and a lot of other people wanted some. King (Flowers) is the first one on my list as he has been buying fish from me and my father for years. We have had the price set at CI$6 per pound for a long time. He is usually there (at the weigh-ins) to personally pick them up and they end up at his restaurant.
“I also had another restaurant at Morgan’s Harbour called Calypso Grill buy from me. They give me the best price actually. Anything I catch I let them know about it by giving them the heads-up (before I come to shore).”
An interesting side-note to the massive tuna catch is it comes three weeks before the year’s first major fishing tournament. The annual Barcadere Classic has been moved up from its usual February start, taking place 22-23 January 2011. The Barcadere Marina in George Town will be the site of weigh-ins on both Saturday and Sunday.