Grenada’s St George’s harbor was a sight to behold as boats with anglers from all over the Caribbean and further afield cruised in for the 46th Budget Marine Spice Island Billfish Tournament (BMSIBT). Once again the event was held at the Grenada Yacht Club — home of the tournament since it first started in 1964.
This year’s event registered 48 participating boats and 229 anglers from the USA, Sweden, Martinique, Aruba, Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago and our homeland Grenada. As is customary, Grenada’s tournament, which is the largest and longest running in the southern Caribbean, had significant turnout of 27 boats from Trinidad & Tobago and a new record of 11 boats from Grenada!
In keeping with the policies from The Billfish Foundation and international game fishing rules, the Budget Marine Spice Island Billfish Tournament observes stringent guidelines for the release of billfish namely Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Sailfish and Spearfish. “This tournament remains committed to conserving Grenada’s fish reserves so that our future generations will have this resource at their disposal. This year, we increased the minimum weights of all the billfish species to further reduce the number of fish brought to the scale.” commented Richard McIntyre, Chairman of the BMSIBT Committee.
On Wednesday, 21 January, the tournament commenced with competing boats parading around the Carenage in all their splendour, before lining up just outside of Grenada’s natural harbour for the Bimini Start, and progressing on to the fishing grounds. Seas were calm so the boats enjoyed comfortable fishing conditions instead of the more normal January weather of strong breezes and choppy seas. Shortly afterwards, the airwaves were alive with action as several boats began calling in their ‘hooks ups’ to Billfish Control. The tournament which runs over 5 days includes a registration day, two fishing days followed by a rest day (Lay Day) and a final fishing day which concludes with an awards ceremony and dinner.
The first fishing day realized 21 billfish releases comprised of 3 Blue Marlin, 1 White Marlin, and 15 Sailfish. 38 fish were landed including 32 Dolphin, 2 Wahoo, and 4 Tuna. Day #2 had even more action and the anglers managed to reel in 28 releases of 7 Blue Marlin, 1 White Marlin and 19 Sailfish. 21 fish were landed — 17 Dolphin, 1 Wahoo and 3 Tuna.
At the close of the second day’s fishing, Arabian Princess was leading the way with 2100 points followed by Abracadabra also with 2100 points, and Blue Fever 2 and Gud Tyme with 1500 points each. Despite the clear abundance of fish no team was able to release the Grand Slam Trio (any 3 of the 4 billfish species) in a single day. Teams were hoping to accomplish this amazing feat and claim the Grand Slam prize of a dinghy and engine from Title Sponsor, Budget Marine.
Following the Lay Day (rest day), the 48 teams headed out once again for their final day of fishing on Saturday 24th January, anxious to show their mettle in the arena and win the championship title and entry to fish in the International Game Fishing Association Tournament in Costa Rica 2016. At the day’s end, 18 fish were released (6 Blue Marlin, 2 White Marlin, 9 Sailfish and 1 Spearfish) and 20 landed. Arabian Princess managed to retain its first place position by releasing a White Marlin that very afternoon and increasing their score by 300 points thus finishing with a final overall score of 2400 points.
Abracadabra remained in second place with 2100 points however team Gud Tyme edged ahead of Blue Fever 2 to take third place with 1800 points. The Grand Slam remained elusive this year.
At the prize-giving dinner, final results were announced and anglers were awarded for their performances in key categories. Marissa Zeller who fished on Grenadian boat ‘Wayward Wind’ was named this year’s Top Female Angler with 2 Sailfish releases. Isiah Aleong, from Trinidad & Tobago, who fished on ‘Barracuda’ retained his title of Top Junior Angler for another year and Nicholas George, who fished on ‘Kaddmit’ was named Top Grenada Angler for releasing a Blue Marlin which earned his team 600 points. 3rd place angler position was awarded to Mathew Milne of Arabian Princess with 2 releases (1 Blue and 1 White Marlin), in second position was Laurance Worrell of Sweet Peace also with two releases (1Blue Marlin and 1 Sailfish) while Marc Telfer of Blue Fever 2, stayed ahead of his fellow anglers and placed first with 3 releases (2 Blue Marlin, and 1 Spearfish).
Of the fish brought to the scale, Anthony Norman Sabga of A Fun Day was awarded for the heaviest Dolphin at 29 lbs, Ryan Farah of Lead us Knot for heaviest Wahoo 25 lbs and Paul Decle of Fun Now for heaviest Tuna at 93 lbs.
In an interesting surprise, the boat GiGi II, which was unable to stay for the awards dinner, was the winner of the valued Guy Harvey print ‘Depth Charge’ which was raffled between early registered teams.
Sponsors of the tournament were given front row seats to be a part of the evening’s proceedings. The Committee thanked the many sponsors for their continued support in hosting what is often dubbed the best billfish tournament in the Southern Caribbean. Of particular note are: Budget Marine, Title Sponsor; Pearl Sponsors Republic Bank Grenada Ltd and Grenada Tourism Authority; Silver Sponsors Beacon Insurance and Independence Agencies Ltd.; Bronze Sponsors Camper and Nicholsons Port Louis Marina and Prickly Bay Marina.
Commenting on this year’s tournament and results, Richard McIntyre, Chairman of the BMSIBT Committee said. “Overall, we had another excellent tournament with fantastic support from our friends across the globe. We are already thinking ahead to 2016 for an even grander 47th tournament that all our anglers, followers and sponsors can look forward to.”