They’re set for reel good times

Competitive angling in the Cayman Islands is officially getting under way. With a pair of notable tournaments coming up the chance for props and cash earnings is now.

The 2011 fishing calendar officially springs to life this weekend with the third annual Barcadere Classic. George Town’s Barcadere Marina is the hub for the competition 22-23 January. Registration for the tournament is on Thursday 20 January at Guy Harvey’s Grill 7-9pm. Fishing days are this Saturday and Sunday from 6am to 4.30pm with weigh-in at the Barcadere 4:30-6pm. Snacks will be provided by Cracked Conch and a cash bar will be available by Barnes Bartender Service. Catboat rides will be provided by the Catboat Club at the Barcadere on Sunday from 3pm. The awards presentation is on Monday 24 January in the Macabuca area of the Cracked Conch at 7pm.

After that comes the fourth annual Cayman Swordfish Challenge. The night-time event takes place 4-5 February with fishing hours ranging from 4pm to 2am on both Friday and Saturday. Registration is 6.30pm on Thursday 3 February at Kirk Marine and features guest speakers plus a bait and tackle rigging seminar. The awards ceremony is Monday 7 February at 6pm at Morgan’s Harbour.

Most local anglers are gearing up to compete in both tournaments. Among them is Robert Whorms, 31, who had one of the first catches of the year in the form of a long-fin Atlantic albacore that was 57.8 pounds.

“I’m absolutely going to participate,” Whorms said. “I support the Barcadere Marina and the tournament. The organizers are good friends of mine. I tried to get in the Swordfish one last year but I’m intent on heading out to that as well this year.

“Wahoos and tunas are my speciality. This year I want to learn about dolphins and swordfish. Of the two the swordfish is new to me and I’m excited to learn about them. I’ve caught marlins before, a number of blue marlins over the years in fact and I’ve caught a sailfish in the Rooster tournament.”

One of the most interesting parts of Whorms’ catch, which was made in East End, was that it could have been a new Cayman record. Currently the Cayman Islands Angling Club (Cayman’s national fishing body) has no official record for an albacore catch. Whorms’ mark would have been a new benchmark for the species had he not gutted the fish prior to arriving at the Barcadere Marina for weigh-in.

Whorms, who works at Caribbean Utilities Company, states missing out on the record was an unfortunate accident.

“I just had a baby with my wife in December. I was on vacation so I used part of that time to go fishing. I didn’t know at the time what it was. I didn’t have a clue. It came down to preserving the fish and that’s what we did.”

Another fisherman anxious to catch fish in the tournaments is legendary angler Charles Ebanks. The “small fish killer” had the first official catch of 2011 with a 138.4 pound yellowfin tuna. The fish was hauled in 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, which was 51lbs off the current Cayman record, sold for about CI$830.

Ebanks, 37, states he intends to be a force in the tournaments.

“I will be fishing in the tournaments,” Ebanks said. “All I can say (ahead of the Barcadere Classic) is you better watch Run Tings (my boat) real carefully because she’ll be out there on the prowl. I may be the small fish killer but at the end of the day who has caught the most big fish here?

“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me in the last six or seven months. They’ve said “I see you in the paper all the time I want you to take me out there and show me what to do.” Do I mind? Not at all. You have to have a sportsman-like attitude. If they want to learn I can teach them. Now I have some secrets and tricks you will not learn but I’ll show you the basics. I’ve studied fish the last 10-15 years and I’ve learned a lot of little things that can make a difference. There are some baits I use differently as a result. For example you use seaweed to catch bait fish and then you use that fish as bait for the tuna.”

Interestingly both tournaments have over CI$30,000 available in cash prizes. Most of that money is on offer during the Barcadere event. CI$10,000 is on offer for the wahoo that breaks Elvet Conolly’s record catch of 146lbs 2oz made in June 2007 just off the coast of North Side. Aside from that the three largest wahoos nab winnings of CI$5,000, $3,000 and $1,000. The heaviest and second-heaviest yellowfin tuna and dolphin catches earn $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.

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Eric Rivers and John Lawrus joined Ebanks for the tuna catch.
PHOTO: MATTHEW YATES
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