Night-time fishing for swordfish is not a widespread activity for Cayman anglers. However it is set to take centre stage in the local fishing community.
The 2011 Cayman Swordfish Challenge gets under way this weekend. The night-time event takes place 4-5 February with fishing hours ranging from 4pm to 2am on both Friday and Saturday. Registration took place on Thursday 3 February at Kirk Marine and featured guest speakers plus a bait and tackle rigging seminar.
The tournament is going into its fourth year and coordinated by fishing enthusiast and Brasserie restaurant owner King Flowers. Previously Flowers stated that the event started off as an experiment to determine the quality of swordfish around Grand Cayman. Interestingly the tournament takes place in February, a month that typically serves as the best time to catch the species.
In addition to Flowers, the executive committee played a large role with getting the tournament off the ground. The committee members are: Richard Flowers, Captain Bouncer Smith, Davey Ebanks, Buster McLean, Atlee Evans, Dorson Wright and Captain Steve Huddlestone. The event usually attracts 20 to 25 boats with up to four anglers per boat.
Some CI$19000 is on offer via cash prizes. The heaviest total weight of fish caught earns $5000 with the second-heaviest and third-heaviest marks commanding $3000 and $2000 respectively. The single heaviest swordfish earns an additional $1000.
In addition the heaviest total weight for the first and second evening of the event reels in $2000 each night. The most releases on the first evening nabs $2000 with the most releases on the second night earning the same amount. All of that prize money will be distributed during the awards ceremony next Monday 7 February at 6pm at Morgan’s Harbour.
A number of local anglers are gearing up for the competition. One of them is North Side native Justin Ebanks, who nabbed the third-heaviest wahoo and the second-heaviest dolphin in the recent Barcadere Classic. Ebanks states his focus is on success for this tournament and those to come.
“I intend to be first for the next tournament,” Ebanks said. “I’m competing in both the swordfish event and the Rooster Shootout in March. The swordfish tournament is really for a select crowd but the Rooster is the big one for me. I want to go to that and take back the crown for heaviest dolphin plus get a six pack of beers from Carl Edwards of Taffy.”
A member of captain Douglas Ebanks’ Blue Moon crew, Justin nabbed over CI$2000 for his Barcadere Classic catches. He states a big reason for his confidence is due to the recent form of crew member Edward Azan (he had the second-heaviest dolphin during the Lions and Rotary Club fishing tournament last year).
“Douglas, Edward and I have fished in the tournaments together the last three years. Me and Douglas have been at it together four years. I’m looking forward to Edward fishing for us this year. He caught what we felt was a wolfin (a cross between a wahoo and a dolphin) during the Barcadere event. I wanted to get a prize for him for that.
“Basically Edward had a bull dolphin on the line that was so big it would have been the heaviest if we had reeled it in. As we got him to the boat the line broke and come to find out the fish cut the line with his teeth. “We were shocked because wahoo usually have sharp teeth while dolphin normally have no teeth. We didn’t know what to make of it so we’ve been calling it a wolfin and talking about it ever since the awards ceremony.
“Edward is the shortest on board so we always say we’re grooming the baby. He pulls his weight and we’re proud to say that there are no amateurs on board.”
For all of that exuberance all eyes will arguably on Charles Ebanks. The legendary fisherman claimed $10,000 at last year’s Swordfish Challenge aboard his boat Run Tings. Alongside angler Shelly Ware, Charles had the second biggest swordfish catch of 142.13lbs while Ware had the third biggest catch of 139.3lbs.
Charles nabbed CI$5000 for the heaviest total weight of fish caught and CI$2000 for the heaviest total fish on day one of the tournament. Adding to that take was the CI$2,810 he made through selling both fish to local restaurants and when it was all said and done he walked away with roughly CI$9,810. Charles states he intends to repeat that showing this year.
“Shelly and I are going out to the swordfish tournament this year,” Charles said. “She likes to fish with me and we’re going out to see if we can match last year. It (the prize money) doesn’t really matter when it comes to tournaments. All you can do is fish your hardest and see where you come out.
“There’s always a good chance of catching fish. I respect all of the pros of the sport and I say good luck to them and tight lines in the tournament.”