One of the region’s top marine artists will continue to be a regular presence here.
Carey Chen was among the fishing celebrities present for the Cayman First Insurance All Tackle fishing tournament last weekend. Sanctioned by the Cayman Islands Angling Club, the competition served as the final fishing competition for the 2014 season.
Chen, 54, says his fondness for Cayman stems from years of positive experiences here.
“I’ve been coming here for 30-something years,” Chen said. “Sounds like a lot but the million-dollar month was the first tournament when I came and I’ve been coming ever since. It’s a second home, I enjoy everybody, I have so many friends here, I feel at home. Being an island person from Jamaica, it just feels like everybody is friends and family. We have the same personalities: relaxed, we love reggae and the ocean. I feel comfortable talking to them, if I’m in America it’s kind of twanged up.”
Chen has been a familiar name in local angling circles over time, with much of his artwork appearing as prizes for local tournaments. At last year’s competition, for example, the angling club was able to donate more than $600 to the Cayman Islands Crisis Center, after collecting funds through the auctioning of his artwork.
The Jamaican, who lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, would witness a number of big catches at this year’s tournament. Craig Janeck of Tunacious had the biggest fish and the heaviest yellowfin tuna with a 86.8-pound catch – good enough to take home US$2,500. Allan Kerr and the Scotch Bonnet crew earned US$2,000 for the second and third heaviest tunas, which weighed in at 59.4 and 57.6 pounds. Scotch Bonnet crew member Justin Thompson nabbed US$2,500 for having the heaviest wahoo at 47.6 pounds.
Nick Jones of Chasin’ Broads had the second heaviest wahoo at 44.5 pounds – good enough for US$1,500 – and Clayton Ebanks of Who’s Your Daddy was third at 43 pounds, taking home US$500. Jones, who landed his fish off in choppy water off the coast of East End with brothers Rob and Will Jones and crew member Jonathan Ebanks, said the key to his big catch was dodging the crowds.
“We avoided the zoo, we didn’t go to 12-mile bank because that’s where everybody was,” Nick Jones said. “I can’t tell you exactly where we went but we avoided the zoo. We were high-speed drifting, with live flying fish, that’s the trick.”
Samara Persaud of Liquor Box earned US$1,000 and a prize for being the top female angler for landing the heaviest dolphin at 30.5 pounds. Trent Riggins of Anna Maria was second at 16.2 pounds, good enough for US$500 and Cameron Ebanks of Who’s Your Daddy was third at 12.8 pounds and took home fishing gear as a prize. Tobias Marquardt of Days Dream won an award for having the most marlin releases.
Chen says those catches show the depth of fishing talent Cayman offers.
“I like to see locals come out here, even though there are not really big boats, everyone is participating and it’s really good to see that people are into the sport. Even the people who don’t fish a lot. There are some hardcore (people) here and some people who are amateurs too. Everybody is happy.”