Tight Lines

Drama aplenty as Triple Crown action hots up

The illusion that this was a cooler summer than others has been pretty firmly knocked out of people’s heads with the warm weather and amazingly calm conditions of the past couple of weeks.

Those who follow the tropical weather scene will also have noticed that named storms is already as far as “G”, evidence that there is plenty of heat in the waters to our south. Hopefully, this is not a harbinger of things to come. Everyone has had enough of Mother Nature this year, that is certain.

As a result of plenty of contingency planning, crossed fingers and Government support, the annual Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Tournaments got underway last weekend, albeit a bit later into the month than usual.

Obviously reduced numbers of foreign boats meant less teams than usual but as always, there were turn-ups and lots of drama.

At the end of the first day, things were tight indeed in the 2020 Bermuda Billfish Blast; visiting boat Auspicious was firmly in the lead with three blue marlin releases, having account for half of the six fish caught and released that day.

The second day of the tournament was painfully slow with only four fish being caught and released.

Captain Brooks Smith’s Uno Mas, started the day with an early white marlin release and then two blue marlin, sliding them comfortably into second place behind Auspicious which was firmly hanging on to first with the proceeds of Day One.

The final day of the event, continued to be exceptionally slow even though conditions were ideal with calm seas and clear skies.

The fish simply were not cooperating but they were to have the final say. As the clock ticked toward the witching hour and the Fat Lady was tuning up, a strike on the Uno Mas froze time as the rest of the fleet wound in their lines.

Just shy of an hour later, angler Maria Smith turned loose a blue marlin that catapulted Uno Mas into first place with a total of 1,600 points with the lowly white marlin providing the margin of victory.

Second place went to Auspicious (1,500 points) with local Captain Paul Rodrigues’ Miss TJ taking third with 1,500 points on the time of attaining points being the critical factor.

The High Point Angler and Junior Angler was P.J. Rodrigues aboard Miss TJ while the High Point Lady angler was Maria Smith on Uno Mas.

All told, the fishing was incredibly slow with a total of 15 fish (one white marlin) being caught over the three days.

All the fish were released with not one bettering the minimum weight. Various theories abounded: not enough fishing pressure; too cold; too hot; too much bait; spawning, whatever – not that it mattered.

Monday saw the first day of the 20th Bermuda Big Game Classic, usually the most popular of the three-day events. Again, despite fine conditions, the fishing continued to be on the slow side with the early lead going to Uno Mas as Maria Smith released another white marlin. After a couple quiet hours, Auspicious, local boat Tenacious and visitor

Just A Dog all released blue marlin in short order to shake up the standings.

As the afternoon wore on three local boats all released blue marlin to join the leaders on the scoreboard. It was after 3 o’clock when the crew of Captain Eugene Barnes’ Boy Blue were treated to a spectacular strike that saw a fish make a mockery of a 130 pound test reel, stripping line off at a great rate and performing aerobatics quite some distance from the boat.

It was then that things took a turn for the worse; one engine started to overheat and had to be shut down. As the lengthy battle wore on, the rudder mechanism gave out making maneuvering the craft a nightmare.

As the fish drew closer, it wasn’t giving up just yet and it was only after three hours that angler Edward Barnes was able to boat the fish.

Contrasting with the power exhibited a series of measurements put the fish into the marginal class for making the minimum weight and the boat was well off the East End with precious little mobility.

Bottom line: they had until midnight to get the fish and the boat to the weigh-in at Barr’s Bay.

Lots of luck and invaluable friends came to their aid and a huge sigh of relief was made when, just after 11pm that night, weighmaster Dan Jacobs read off the weight of 516 pounds.

Day Two saw the fish become more active as the fleet caught and released 13 more blue marlin and a solitary white marlin.

The competition was kept tight with Auspicious, Uno Mas, Tenacious and Boy Blue all releasing fish. Local boat Legacy and visitor Bree both released two fish, putting them into the mix. No fish were boated that day.

Day Three had all the marbles to play for. Unfortunately, the fish decided to keep a low profile with there being only six releases.

One fish was boated early in the day but disappointment reigned when it failed to make the minimum weight at the scales.

Five of the releases came on local boats with Auspicious the only foreign boat to release a blue.

That would be enough, though, to give them the win with a total of 2,000 points.

Immediately behind them in second through fourth place were local boats, Legacy, Tenacious and Reel Addiction with time separating the places.

The High Point Angler was Legacy’s Jeremy Gibson (1,500 points) eclipsing Auspicious’ Joe Rahman on time. Cameron McGee aboard Tenacious was the High Point Lady Angler.

Monday’s seemingly ill-fated 516 -pounder held on to win the Overall Largest Blue Marlin and three daily categories, much to the pleasure of another group of local anglers.

The final leg of the Triple Crown is now underway with its culmination on Sunday.

Competition will be fierce as it is not impossible for a boat fishing just one of the events to be able to win. A difficult proposition for sure but with many boats already having collected points almost anything is possible. And, as keen observers will know, it almost always comes down to the wire.

Weigh-ins are at Barr’s Bay each evening and although the public is not welcomed for Covid reasons, it is possible to get a look at any big fish that may be weighed in.

Maybe the sight of a huge marlin will be enough to whet an appetite to go fishing, After all, it doesn’t have to be big game, the real pleasures of angling are in the pursuit and occasionally rewarding Tight Lines!!!