Legasea takes spoils in Big Game Classic
It’s hard to keep pace with rapidly moving targets and there is no doubt that the summer billfish scene moves with plenty of pace.
A quick blue marlin release for Captain Brian Hines’ Legasea in the early afternoon of the Saturday moved the team to the top of the standings with 1,700 points where they remained until the close of play, thereby winning this year’s Bermuda Big Game Classic Tournament.
Not that it wasn’t hotly contested right up until the Fat Lady started singing. Close behind, on 1,640 points was Mama Who, a real regular to the Bermuda billfish events, with Team Flyer on 1,571 points, largely a result of the 871lb blue marlin that they had weighed in on the first day. Not surprisingly that remained the largest fish of the tournament with the only other landed fish the 540–pounder caught by Mama Who.
The High Point Game Fish award went to Mark Brennon, fishing aboard Sea Toy, who won with a nice 54.9-pound wahoo. The High Point Angler and Junior Angler was Mama Who angler, Sales De La Barre and Jacueline Bjorke was the High Point Lady Angler on 1,000 points taken aboard Reel Hot.
What was interesting about the 2017 Classic was the difference in the composition of the fish caught as compared with last year. There were five fewer teams taking part but they accounted for 78 billfish: 68 blue marlin and ten white marlin.
This year’s stats had 41 teams catching 62 billfish comprised of 36 blue marlin, 24 white marlin and two spearfish. Less important than the actual numbers was the prominent position that the white marlin had taken and the abundance of spearfish over the last few weeks is nothing short of surprising. Normally only a couple are seen in a year. Sailfish remain unlikely with just about every local old salt only being able to muster up one or two tales of encounters with that species in local waters.
But the parade moves on, with the final leg of the Triple Crown being fished at the present time. This is the Sea Horse Anglers Club Billfish Tournament, the Island’s oldest, now in its 43rd year. At the sign-up and kick-off party, the final tally was 32 teams, equalling the record number of participants in this event.
With the usual cash and other prizes up for grabs, Thursday saw the fleet head out onto the briny in sunny, mostly calm conditions with a light to moderate southwest breeze, usually ideal for Bermuda bill fishing. But somehow, things got off to a bit of a slow start with just six blues and a solo white being caught during the first morning session. As always, it is a combination of skill and luck, and as the latter would have it, out front early with 1,000 points from two blue marlin releases was Captain Brian Hines’ boat Legasea.
With Legasea already leading the Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship series by some 700 points ahead of Fa La Me, the team are in great position to win this overall event for the second time running. Not that the rest of the fleet won’t have something to say about the proceedings. As has already been shown in the previous two legs of the Championship, almost anything can happen, right up until the last dying moments of a tournament.
In fact, there are those who speculate that at this time of the year, the billfish bite seems to occur late on in the day with mornings tending to be on the quiet side. Although, historically, the Sea Horse Anglers Tournament was fished somewhat later — over the Cup Match holiday — for a time it had unlimited fishing hours and many of the best results were had in the very late afternoon. This was discontinued as the tournament evolved to become part of the bigger series of events and to help standardise the rules. This also ensured that all boats, particularly the visitors, had some down time with which to enjoy the island’s amenities.
The final weigh-in takes place today from about 4.30pm at Barr’s Bay Park where the public are welcome to view proceedings and to see the outcome of the day’s fishing.
Take away the billfish hype and the angling is otherwise awfully slow. There AE a few wahoo around although no one seems to be getting anything in the way of numbers. Most of the fish taken trolling are on the small side; in the teens or low twenties in terms of pounds. Some of the boats working the dep water have also caught wahoo although this has been against the run of play and is usually not what is expected. Although the fish are larger than the ones being caught on the Banks and Edge, serious wahoo fishermen will stick to the tried and true methods that are consistent producers.
Chumming has been rewarded with a few tuna of both the yellowfin and blackfin varieties. There is still no sign of any skipjack (oceanic bonito) activity; although there are more than enough mackerel around to relieve any boredom. Apart from the barracuda, rainbow runner and large triggerfish that claim the Banks as their home territory there should be some respectable amberjacks and bonita around, as well. These will take most baits, dead or alive, fished down deep and are more than capable of providing ample Tight Lines!
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