HAMILTON, Bermuda — The 2013 Bermuda Billfish Blast participants enjoyed perfect weather and a great blue marlin bite. Representing the first leg of the Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship series, the Blast fishing began on the Fourth of July and is designed to support the teams also fishing in the Blue Marlin World Cup Championship tournament. Teams are allowed to weigh a fish on July Fourth, but are required to release all billfish on the second and third days of fishing.
During the Billfish Blast, 47 blue marlin and 18 white marlin were released, with three blues coming to the scales. Many firsts were accomplished in the tournament, with storybook endings for the top-performing teams.
The fleet of 36 teams in the Billfish Blast headed offshore on July Fourth in anticipation of the 8:30 a.m. lines-in call. This is probably the most exciting fishing day every year in Bermuda, knowing a big fish could mean a half-million-dollar payday. And Bermuda did not disappoint with the fist hookup coming at 8:32 a.m. on Sea Toy. Lady angler Nancy Kohl from Pennsylvania bested the fish at 9:00 a.m. with Capt. Bull Tolson calling in the boated fish. The team decided to head in and weigh the fish, which came in at 547 pounds, earning points for the team and a possible daily jackpot.
After weighing their fish, Sea Toy headed back offshore and released two more blue marlin to win the Daily Release Jackpot. Sea Toy continued to see success in the tournament, releasing a blue on the second day and two more on the final day for a total of 3,047 points from five blue marlin releases and the weighed 547. Team Sea Toy, a beautiful 59-foot Spencer with Capt. Bull Tolson, mate D.J. Dejarnette, with anglers Nancy Kohl, Mike Nelson, Monica Freese and Ryan Freese took First Place Team award and Day One Billfish Release Jackpots for total tournament winnings of $67,500. They also received an invitation to the Offshore World Championship and Billfish Blast marlin pendants from Vanmark Jewelry. Angler Nancy Kohl earned 2,047 points, wining both High Point Angler and Top Lady Angler honors — a first for the tournament.
Team Blank Check, fishing a brand new 77-foot Jarrett Bay out of Florida with Capt. Danny Hern, hooked up at 8:40 a.m. on July Fourth for angler Kevin Gaylord. After just over an hour, his brother and mate Jason “Jinxy” Gaylord had the leader and brought the fish to gaff for mates Clemente Travieso and Joseph Johnson. The crowd built at Aubuoy’s Point Pleasant Park in anticipation of the blue marlin coming in as Blank Check steamed to Hamilton Harbor.
Blank Check’s blue weighed in at 668 pounds, ultimately winning the Billfish Blast Daily Marlin Jackpots — worth $81,000 — and the Blue Marlin World Cup Championship, for a total of almost $450,000 in prize money.
Bermuda now boasts the most World Cup Championship wins with eight since the inaugural event in 1985. This was a very special event for Team Blank Check, with the Gaylord brothers working together as angler and mate, Capt. Hern’s family, and the boatbuilder Randy Ramsey all aboard to enjoy their incredible experience of catching the largest marlin in the two tournaments. Notably the fish was caught on a red, white and blue lure they call “Old Glory.” Happy Independence Day!
Team Impulse, a beautiful 80-foot Merritt from Texas with Capt. John Cochrane and teammates John Echols, James Flores, Dave Cochrane, David Soares, Ann Marie Cochrane and James Nantz took the Second Place Team award catching four blue marlin earning 2,000 points for the competition wining $21,600. Three of the blues were caught on the second day of fishing and just missed the Daily Release Jackpot by seconds. Team Impulse showed its class, congratulating at the dock Team Challenger/Mama Who, which narrowly beat Impulse out of the Release Jackpot prize.
Team Challenger with Capt. Alan Card and son Ian Card of Bermuda took a charter from well-known tournament competitor Elaine Jones from Mississippi, owner of Mama Who. Jones’ new boat is under construction, but she didn’t want to miss the Bermuda season and hired Capt. Card — one of the most recognized names in the sport. On the second day of competition, everything came together with Team Challenger catching three blues to win the Daily Release Jackpot by seconds on time. Team Challenger won the Day Two Release Jackpot, earning 1,500 points — enough to place third in the tournament wining a total of $40,500.
The final day of fishing in the 2013 Bermuda Billfish Blast will never be forgotten by the owners of El Cazador from Texas fishing on their 65-foot Viking. At 10:11 a.m., Capt. Mike Kennedy called in a triple-header of blue marlin with Bobby, Sarah and Sail Ricks doing battle, while Bobby’s wife Sue and grandkids Gillian and Jack enjoyed the show.
Mate Parker Stephen, who already has a Bermuda Triple Crown Billfish Championship ring, had his hands full clearing lines and sorting out the mayhem. After 30 minutes, Sail’s fish was first to be released, followed by Sarah’s. Bobby was then able to unhook from the stand-up harness and move to the fighting chair. After an hour, the fish was released, and for the first time in the history of the Bermuda Billfish Blast, a successful blue marlin triple-header was converted. The release video showed the fish were all quality blues estimated at 300-, 400- and well over 600-pound class fish. Team El Cazador won the Day Three Release Jackpot worth $29,500 and the fishing experience of a lifetime for three generations of anglers.
A notable catch also occurred on Team Overproof with Bermuda Capt. Peter Rans and angler Nick Brown, from England, boating and weighing a 641-pound blue marlin after more than three hours in the chair on day one of the tournament. The fish wasn’t large enough to win, but it gave a big scare to Team Blank Check and represented the third-largest fish caught in the 2013 Blue Marlin World Cup.
The Bermuda Billfish Blast is presented by the Bermuda Department of Tourism and produced by Bonnier Corporation with the help of many sponsors, including Caterpillar Engines, PW’s Marina, Miles Market, Argo Group, King Sailfish Mounts, Artist Steve Goione, Ocean Blue Graphics, Satcom Direct, Vanmark Jewelry, Island Construction, Cell One Bermuda, Bacardi, the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Garmin, Island Glass, Fin-Nor and Marlin magazine. A fantastic week was had by all.