Blue Moon shines at tournament

Local fishing started its summer with a bang.

While the sports world focuses on the World Cup, local anglers are gearing up for the Rooster Shootout in October while reliving the successes of the 2014 Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament. More than 150 anglers took part in the 17th annual competition this month on 42 registered boats, resulting in over US$135,000 in cash prizes being paid out.

Captain Chris Briggs and the crew on Strike Force had a tournament-best of four marlin releases, which earned him a Jackpot Invitation to the International Game Fishing Association World Offshore Championship. Briggs also took home a Rolex watch, sponsored by Kirk Freeport, as the captain of the boat with the most releases and Guy Harvey artwork from the Guy Harvey Gallery for being among the top four boat captain with billfish releases.

The other winners were John Hynes of Predator with three releases, Mark Bothwell of Blind Love with two releases and Nick Freeland of Rosemary with two releases.

Most of those boats claimed the Jackpot award prizes. Blind Love won US$5,000, for the third-most releases, Predator finished second and nabbed US$7,000 and Strikeforce took home an extra US$55,000 for the most releases.

For boats 26 feet and under, first place in each category took home US$2,000. Second place won a Canyon Reel and third place took home a satellite phone.

Justin Ebanks of Blue Moon reeled in a 58.7-pound wahoo while Graham Martin of Brasserie Catch II had a 28.2-pound catch. Martin would also produce a 64.6 yellowfin tuna, the heaviest eligible fish caught on the tournament’s first day by a boat participating in the Bimini start. The result was US$2,000.

Arthlee Evans of Brasserie Catch II had the heaviest tuna with his 72.2-pound catch. Fellow crew member Martin grabbed a 64.4-pound tuna and Nicholas Powery of Who’s Ya Daddy produced a 62.1-pound catch. Azzan Sherieff of Lady Luck 2 had the heaviest dolphin at 34.3 pounds, Ebanks of Blue Moon had a 28.8-pound dolphin and Martin of Brasserie Catch II had a 27-pound catch.

The full list of winners can be found at

Among the visitors down for the tournament was Captain Jimmy Nelson, the host of NBC Sports’ Extreme Fishing Adventures. Nelson he enjoyed competing here.

“This is actually my favorite tournament out of anywhere that I’ve fished,” Nelson said. “The people are great. The fishing’s always very good. It’s very easy to catch marlin, wahoo, tuna and dolphin on a regular basis. It’s not like one species is what everyone’s going for.

“You can go for any fish and catch any one of them because all of them are chewing good this time of year and that’s always a fun thing to do.”