Surprise was in store at Blue Marlin World Cup
Who would have thought it? The 2017 Blue Marlin World Cup turned up a really interesting result; one that very few would have foreseen.
As it turned out, there were 144 entries from just about everywhere blue marlin may roam. Boats, seeking their fortune, as it just about was, came from Vanuatu, Fiji and, of course, the fabled Kona Coast of Hawaii in the Pacific. Kona boasted 40 entries.
Portugal, mostly in the shape of Madeira and the Azores were well represented while the lion’s share of entries in the tournament and the apparent hotspot in the Atlantic was Bermuda with 51 entries. Less likely entries hailed from Panama, the Gulf of Mexico and a lone entrant from Maryland. That latter entry was deemed to be a bit daring as the usually favoured marlin ground on the East Coast was the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
As the 4th of July dawned, first in the western Pacific Ocean, the fishing day came and went. Hook-up after hook-up was reported in the social media with the World Cup organisers having an update video fairly regularly on Facebook. With just about everyone somehow having access to computers and mobile phones, reports were constant. There was some considerable activity in the eastern Atlantic as the boats over there reported hookups, pulled hooks and battles that extended over an hour but still resulted in the fish being turned loose. Five hundred pounds is a lot of fish, no matter how one looks at it.
As the Bermuda Billfish Blast got under way, the 44 teams contesting this event joined with another local fleet in scouring the depths around the island for a fish worthy of collecting the pot. There was no shortage of hookups with repeat visitor Que Mas hooking up a fish that after an hour had much of the world wondering if that might have some potential. It was after almost an hour and a half that the fish was brought alongside and subsequently released. Meanwhile Kanaloa, fishing down on Argus Bank, was also hooked up into a fish that sent the battle over the 90-minute mark. That fish, too, was also released although there would be more to add to that tale when all was said and done.
As the day wore on, the American East Coast and Caribbean became active and there were two hookups in the Gulf of Mexico. Both these slowly, but surely became the focal points as fishing times passed and lines out were called elsewhere.
Both Gulf boats reportedly boated their fish and headed for the weigh station just as the Hawaiian boats started their day. With word travelling faster than ever, thanks to the modern communications network, it rapidly became apparent that the fish to beat was a 600-pounder caught by Wilks Hammock aboard the Done Deal, fishing out of Orange Beach, Alabama.
Considering the size of fish that have won the World Cup previously, it all looked like Hawaii might well come good again; after all, in the past seven years the winners had all been fish in excess of 600lb. With most of the competitors left in the dark, the day’s fishing dwindled to a close with the fish caught in Hawaii simply not coming up standard. At that point, it was a good old-fashioned, Alabama celebration as the lightly touted south coast port bathed in the limelight of having produced this year’s largest 4th of July blue marlin.
Back in Bermuda, the Blast continued. When the video confirming Kanaloa’s release was seen there were many experienced skippers and mates who put the fish at well over 600lb and there was the possibility that the fish in question could have put Bermuda back on the map; but it was not to be.
But it was not for lack of trying. Here, the bite was excellent with 14 blue marlin, 12 white marlin and a spearfish having been caught and released. Day two of the tournament was even better as the blues took a more dominant role in the proceedings outnumbering the whites 20 to 11.
As the tournament progressed into its final day, the fish continued to please with eleven blue marlin and eight white marlin having been caught and released at the day’s midpoint. The leader, with 2,100 points, Captain James Barnes’ Reel Lax was clinging onto to a 100 point lead ahead of Captain Nick Garnsey’s Kanaloa. Veteran Fa La Me was also in close contention and it would be a nail-biting finish for all the boats involved.
As hearsay would have it, many of the fish which are smaller are thought to be males here to spawn, probably on or about the full moon (July 9). If that is indeed the case, there must be some very big females cruising the depths and they could suddenly put in a showing at any time; perhaps immediately after the full moon.
With any luck, the deep water will get a bit of a respite over the weekend although much of the local fishing fleet will go back to chumming for yellowfin and blackfin tuna on the Banks with the remaining trollers working the edge of the drop-off for wahoo.
Come next Thursday, the 13th, and everyone it will seem will be back at it as the Bermuda Big Game Classic commences. This flagship event will be fished from then until Saturday with an estimated 40-plus boats taking part.
With big fish the object of the exercise, there will no doubt be lots of Tight Lines!
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