Bigger turns out better for fishing champs

Saturday, November 18, 2017

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Battling high winds and rough seas, the Gabby Milan 11 landed the heaviest marlin, as well as the heaviest billfish in the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club (RJYC) 16th Annual Fishing Tournament, November 10-11.

Gregory Mair, tournament director, congratulated the teams from the 22 participating boats for making the tournament a success, despite the difficult weather. He was addressing the awards ceremony of the JN General Insurance Company-sponsored event at the RJYC Marina, Palisadoes Park, Kingston, on November 11.

“Many of you were wary about the weather conditions, but you participated nevertheless,” Mair said. “It was a challenging competition; however, we all had a great time and it was accident-free.”

The tournament was divided into boats under 30 feet; boats over 30 feet; and a sailing boat category. With Doug Halsall and Monty Tavares aboard, Gabby Milan 11, at 67 feet, was the biggest boat in the tournament.

Among the winners, Real Music took the small boat trophy, while the sailboat category was won by Harry Hirsch, and Big Wahoo took the Chas Ramson prize. Special recognition went to junior anglers Noah Azan, who won his category with a 26lb king fish, and Richard Todd, who took second place with a 12lb fish.

“It was rough, especially the first day,” Halsall said. “On the second day, we had no sun at all, but there was excellent support from a great captain and a very good team.”

It was this support which allowed Gabby Milan 11 to land the winning 159.9lb marlin; and the heaviest billfish, weighing in at 136.6lb.

“Captain Reuben 'Skippy' Bajjo believes the chance of success is improved if the boat moves on and off the fishing banks,” Halsall pointed out. “And our strategy was to move between Bowdage Bank, California Bank and Bottom Bank off the south coast, and it worked.”

Halsall said he was especially pleased because he had only recently purchased the boat, and the team won two of the last three tournaments they entered.

Shimron Whitehead, first mate on the Gabby Milan 11, who also won a prize for his role in the victory, declared the tournament “was a nice one.”

“One of the most pleasing aspects of the fishing tournament was the modern equipment being used, which makes it easier to release back into the wild,” Whitehead said, noting, “The challenge in sport fishing is in catching the fish; but if we don't want to keep them, the new hooks can be removed, so that the fish gets a chance to live and reproduce.”

The importance of fish conservation was emphasised by United States-based marine wildlife artist Carey Chen, who also participated in the tournament. And sponsors JN General Insurance Company featured artwork by Chen on this year's tournament jerseys.

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