Risky Business is a safe bet for Nicholas Ebanks.
The Savannah native claimed top honours at the 2011 Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament. Ebanks, 29, was aboard the Risky Business boat alongside captain Brevon Elliott and mates Theon McCoy and Larue Nixon Senior. The group would split US$7,000 in prize winnings thanks to Ebanks’ 95 pound, 11 ounce yellowfin tuna that was the heaviest tuna of the competition (which earned $5,000 in the boats 26 feet and over category) and the largest eligible fish caught in Grand Cayman waters (which nets $2,000 courtesy of Burger King).
The Cayman Islands Civil Service Association’s Cooperative Credit Union Ltd accounts officer states landing the fish was an epic feat.
“It was a hairy one hour and 45 minutes to be sure,” Ebanks said. “The rod wasn’t a regular stand-up kind but a trolling rod. The rod butt was long and I was overextended. My body was overexerted. We were on the southwest corner of 12 mile bank using a single sprat. I brought the fish in for Brevon to gaff it and get it on to the boat.
“It started off going behind the boat. But it ended up taking 500 feet of line in less than 30 seconds. It kept 200-300ft away for the first hour. It was down there and kept a dead stream. It was a back and forth battle because for every foot I took it took two-fold back.”
In addition to the US$7,000 winnings, Ebanks and company earned $300 in fuel from Scotts Landing and a tuna sculpture sponsored by Cayman National. Ebanks, who was born and raised in Newlands, was quick to say that catching tuna and taking part in the international event is nothing new for him.
“I’ve been fishing for tuna for awhile and I’m used to being on the banks. I’ve been fishing in tournaments the last 10 years. From time I was 18 I’ve been fishing. This is my eighth international tournament and I started with Randy Merren and my uncle Mike Ebanks.
“That tuna is the biggest I’ve ever caught. It’s at the top of my scale in terms of fish landed. I’ve fought marlins that were 200-250lbs before for two hours. Usually I’m fishing for dolphin and the marlins jump up and take the reel. I consider marlins a nuisance more than anything. Fishing is something I do to eat what I get, not catch and release it.
“About 15-20 minutes into the fight I stopped trying to yank it up. I took my time because I realized it’s not a small one. We knew it would be a decent size and we expected around 80lbs. We were very comfortable getting 95lbs. It gave us a big edge in terms of points.”
As it turned out, Risky Business finished well ahead of the pack. The second-heaviest tuna in their category was 69lb 3oz and belonged to junior angler Chaz Phelps of Down the Hatch (he claimed US$2,000 for the catch). Adrian Ebanks of Still Chasin and Samara Persaud of Miss Nicole both had 67lb, 5oz tunas which gave them a share of third place and Cary Chen artwork and electronics.
For boats 26ft and under Robert Whorms of Party Heat had the heaviest tuna at 64lb 10oz. Daniel Murphy of Lucky Devil was second at 63lbs 13oz with Edward Azan of Blue Moon third at 62lbs 6oz.
Like with all big catches, extra cash was made with the sale of the fish. With tournament winners generally earning up to $6 per pound, the Risky Business crew could make roughly $570 extra. Surprisingly Ebanks was coy about the exact amount involved.
“The Brasserie took it off of us and they were proud to have it. I cannot speak about specifics as that’s the captain’s thing. He made sure the sale went through. I have no dealing with that as it was not caught on my boat. I only got a portion of the winnings and my cut (from the sale of the fish) went to fuel and boat expenses.”