Cayman First reels in celebrities

Local fishing is promising to end its year with a bang. 

Fishing celebrities Jimmy Nelson and Carey Chen will be on island for the Cayman First Insurance All Tackle fishing tournament. Slated for Nov. 22-23, the competition is sanctioned by the Cayman Islands Angling Club as the final fishing competition for the 2014 season. Both Nelson and Chen have been to Cayman on several occasions. Nelson is a television show host on American TV, while Chen is a noted marine artist in the region. 

Angling club president Franklin Thompson says both men are part of efforts to keep sport fishing in the public eye. 

“The angling club, with assistance from the Department of Tourism, has been actively promoting our sport fishing in recent years by advertising in international sport fishing magazines such as Marlin, Sport Fishing, Offshore World Championship and the International Game Fishing Association World Record Book,” Thompson said. “Additionally, publications such as Costal Angler and Gaff Life have published stories from a variety of writers who have fished in our islands.” 

The angling club has also worked with TV shows such as George Poveromo’s “World of Saltwater Fishing,” “Sport Fishing Magazine TV,” “IGFA Anglers Digest,” “Hookin up with Nick and Mariko” and “Extreme Fishing Adventures” to film fishing shows locally. These shows have aired on NBC Sports, Fox Sports, World Fishing Network, the Sportsman Channel and the Outdoor Channel.  

“The angling club has great relationships with [these] publications and TV shows and will be announcing air dates for 2015 shows as they are scheduled, Thompson said.” 

Nelson wrote an article for last month’s edition of Gaff Life magazine, which detailed a weekend fishing trip to Cayman from Florida. Nelson noted that he fished in Cayman Brac and caught a 40-pound yellowfin tuna, he reeled in tarpon in Little Cayman and hauled in 70-pound tunas – along with a white marlin release – in Grand Cayman waters. The Floridian credits Jeff MacDowell of CaribSands Beach Resort, Brac Scuba Shack, Neil Van Niekerk and Chris Gough of Southern Cross Club, Gary Rutty and Chris Briggs for a successful sojourn. 

The presence of Nelson and Chen will supplement an All Tackle tournament that offers thousands of dollars in prizes. The heaviest tuna and wahoo each earn US$2,500, with the heaviest dolphin garnering US$1,000. The second heaviest tuna and wahoo each command US$1,500, and the third heaviest of each species gets US$500. The second heaviest dolphin nabs US$500 and third heaviest gets fishing gear. Any angler who breaks Cayman’s wahoo or tuna record takes home US$20,000, while the record-breaking dolphin commands US$10,000. 

Awards are also on offer for the most blue marlin releases, the top female angler, the top junior anglers and the boat with the heaviest grand slam catches. A jackpot rewards the two heaviest catches on each fishing day, with an entry fee of $200 per boat. 

The Barcadere Marina serves as the weigh station, with anglers showing their catches at 4-6 p.m. each day. There is an entry fee of $250 per boat, for up to four anglers – with each additional angler paying $100. Junior anglers can compete for free. The George Town Yacht Club hosts registration on Nov. 19 and the awards ceremony on Nov. 25, from 7 p.m. on both nights. 

Last year’s tournament saw a number of big catches as Tansy Maki, Charles Ebanks and Tobias Marquardt of Hog Heaven had an 86-pound tuna. Leon Dilbert of Dolphin King had a 76-pound tuna, Nelson of Strikeforce nabbed a 51.9-pound tuna and Justin Ebanks of Blue Moon nabbed a 37-pound dolphin and a 29.7-pound wahoo. Stephen Ebanks of Who’s Ya Daddy nabbed a 26.1-pound wahoo and Chester Hurlston of Knotty Buoy caught a 24.2-pound wahoo. Other notable catches include Samara Persaud’s 36.4-pound tuna and junior angler Darren Kelly weighing a 33.4-pound tuna.  

Cayman recently hosted fishing celebrity Tred Barta, 62. The Islamorada, Florida, resident is a noted angler, writer, philanthropist and television personality. He was here to promote local fishing and compose articles for media outlets like the Big Game Fishing Journal and Sports Illustrated. 

Thompson said Barta’s visit went well and there are plans to have him here in the future. “Tred’s visit was a success; he experienced true Caymanian kindness during his visit, and his partner Donna (De Weil) commented that they felt very welcome by everyone they encountered during their stay. While on island, Tred toured the districts and enjoyed local cuisine, he dove Stingray City with Epic Divers and fished with captain Jon Arch of Slack’em Charters twice. Local taxi operator Greg Rivers was used exclusively for Tred’s transport as Greg’s van has a motorized chair, which made getting Tred in and out of his wheelchair and in/out of the van an easy task. 

“The team at Epic Divers made Tred and Donna’s dive a great experience and they were very complimentary of the staff and the dive. While fishing with Slack’em Charters, Donna and Tred caught a total of six dolphin and raised three blue marlin. Tred rounded off his trip with a presentation to angling club members at the Yacht Club, during which he shared his experiences in light tackle fishing and his ideas on growing the club’s tournaments. 

“Tred has already requested a return trip to fish for wahoo and tuna on Pickle Bank with Capt. Jon. Given the experience that Tred and Donna had on this trip, I’m sure they will return to experience more of the great sport fishing we have to offer and to write about it in Big Game Fishing Journal, Marlin Magazine and the other publications he writes for.” 


Justin Ebanks, Edward Azan, Charles Ebanks and Douglas Ebanks caught big fish last year. – PHOTO: MATTHEW YATES