Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Saturday, July 28, 2007:
Well, another Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational Tournament is under the fighting belt – thought the banquet is still going on as I type this entry ince I had to break away to blog in a timely manner.
The last day was a tad uneventful though, for some, that was juts the way they wanted it. But before I get to the anxious waiting (then celebrating) done by the Fish Trap crew, I have to list the first placers – after all, is this a fishing tournament or a calcutta contest? Don’t answer that.
When I began my special WMIT blogging, I arrived on Thursday at exactly the instant the first boat, Ocean 58, pulled in with it’s double tuna weigh-in salvo of a 105.6- and a 181.7-pound tuna. It was 4:30 and things were just beginning, literally. So seeing that 181.7 bft seemed more of a sign of things to come than the tuna of the tournament. Flash ahead to today when official congrats went out to ocean 58 for the largest fish of the event.
The second day saw Dragonfly offer its fine hatchet marlin, hoisted by the crew for admiring photographs. That fish, unlike the best-of tuna, seemed hard to beat from the instant it swung on-scene. I have since heard that, shortly after landing the fish, the Dragonfly was a bit baffled by what it was, exactly. Not unusual for this uncommon billfish. Some radio communication rightly suggested to the Dragonfly crew that it was what it was: a hatchet marlin -- and fully legal when over 68 inches. Great catch and fully within the club’s established “White marlin” category. What lies ahead for hatchet marlin remains to be seen. What is there now is a first-place finish it WMIT2007.
Coming in with a tad less fanfare but still taking home a very respectable first-place plaque was a fine 43.7-pound wahoo, bested by the boys on Smokin’ Again. It did have a challenger or two during the tourney but none came very close to outweighing it. Along with prize money, the delctibility factor was a superfine bonus.
The final day did see the one and only qualifying mahi, compliments of the Tara III, which gladly took the $500 fish that took a chunk out of the boat’s entry fee. And yet another good eater.
Now to the real tension side of the final day. A six-figure red-dot calcutta prize hung in the balance for the good guys of the Fish Trap crew. I was sitting at an inside table with some of that crew and had a weigh-in long laugh as they truly sweated out each arriving boat.
As you know, the Fish Trap got atop the top money leader board in a fairly precarious manner. With their top holding, a 169.5 pound bft, twice bested by, Ocean 58’s 181.7 bft and Reel Trouble’s 181.5-pound bft, they magically came out as the only high-ranking tuna entered in the big calcutta. Then the Dragonfly’s white marlin arrived, seemingly ready to outrank the Fish Trap’s top tuna. Well, the white-marlin-takes-all concept is actually limited to the technical side of the tourney – biggest fish glory -- but not the money side of the event. Dragonfly ws not in the big calcutta.
It should be noted that all the boats with the biggest tuna and the white marlin were in the other three calcuttas. I’ll try to get those winning numbers in here after I get a call from a rep I have at the late-running banquet.
As note, this final day was slow as only a handful of boats – of the 33 heading out – came back with eligible catches, including that mahi. However, Sunrunner made a fine showing with its 138.2 bluefin. Ocean 58 showed a 115-lb bft bringing the average weigh of its three tourney tuna to about 130 pounds per fish. Great job guys. Cap N Crunch had its second blue marlin release in as many trips. So close but so far for those savvy anglers.
The consensus read on what made this tourney stand out – short of the overly-perfect weather and the 113 entrants – was the total dominance by the usually rare (to the event) bluefin tuna. The prime factor in the pure dominance of this nearer shore tuna was the highly lackluster water in the canyons, some of which had no warm eddies – or any breaks of any sort, though things had cleaned a bit today. I had a couple knowing tuna folks say that there is quite knack to besting bft and that knack is not easy to master in a three-day event. I go the lowdown on the use of properly rigged ballyhoo, slower trolls, brighter colored plastics, Islanders and what Chris D. called a “bluefin mentality.”
The one utterly odd side of bft catch struck my chef-ing side. I heard maybe a dozen anglers badmouth bft as a not-great eating fish. Uh, might I point out that it is the most valuable fish on the planet. There is virtually no close second when it comes to the total number of pounds bought each year for amounts that trickle down to $1,000 a pound – street value, when sushi-ed out in Asia. However, I reflect on the famed Pink Floyd song “Money,” with the words “Money … is the root of all evil today but … it’s no surprise that they’re giving none of it away.” Ditto on bft. I should know. I asked around enough. Hey, where’s the J&J Express when I need them? Those were the fine folks that gave me their marlin filets last year. Sorry to hear that boat had serious mechanical problems after one day in the contest.
Another note to myself: Learn to better identify tuna on sight. I’ll have them wired within weeks. However, I’m not a big gamer. It sure seems that many (many) offshore folks still don’t know a bft from a yft from a bigeye from an etc. With regs and such being what they are – and getting stricter -- that lack of ID-ability could get one into a load of trouble in short order.
I’ll be giving this website some more blog-age to round out the event. I’m still looking for any input.
POLLY WANNA SLACKER?: One final hookup is needed by anglers before taking home the big WMIT money they’ve apparently won via huge fish.
Due to the pretty packages of payout now being dangled as bait in the tourney, there is now the mandatory last rite of a polygraph test.
The club’s polygraph is administered by an enormous guy wearing a black hood over his head, with jagged slits cut out where milky blue eyes peer emotionlessly outward. The administer also wears a black leather biker’s vest that buttons down the sides, where bear-like tufts of black hair leak out. He manipulates the polygraph with two incredibly monstrous arms, covered in demonic tattoos so large and nasty the tattoos have their own nasty tattoos. He calls himself The Truth Guy.
… Hey, wait a minute. Phil’s telling me I’m not allowed to talk about the polygraph guy. He says contestants might take it wrong. Well, let’s hope they don’t take the test wrong, eh?.
Just kidding. The simple and unobtrusive “poly” test is, in fact, a now-common practice in bigger fishing events and is meant to keep things on the up and up – lest you have to deal with The Truth Guy.
The fishing club I’m in often uses the polygraph. If you pass it, you’re banned forever.