Mostly a family feat: Team B2 Bombers defy the rough seas winning Seychelles 2015 Sailfish tournament
The winning B2 Bombers took home gift packs from Savy & Sons, fishing gear prizes from FINS and the JOUEL gold pendant with a large sailfish trophy. (SSFC)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Southeast Monsoon season in the Seychelles archipelago of 115 islands, which runs from May to October is often characterized by strong winds and rough sea condition but it is also around this time of the year when sailfish are easier to find.
Not surprising therefore that the Seychelles Sports Fishing Club, SSFC, holds its annual South East Monsoon Sailfish Tournament around this time.
A total of 69 anglers divided among 11 boats took up the challenge this year departing the Seychelles main island of Mahé at 3 am local time last Saturday and returning before 5 pm the same day.
Barracuda, Dorado, Wahoo, Dogtooth Tuna, Yellow Fin Tuna and of course Sailfish were being targeted with prizes up for grabs for the heaviest of each except for the sailfish where releasing them would actually earn the anglers more points that bringing them to the weigh station.
Since last year, SSFC has had a tag and release challenge of Billfish (such as blue marlins, sailfish, and swordfish) in every competition.
The sports fishing club even went a little bit further in the latest tournament, raising the minimum weight limit for a sailfish to be brought to the weigh station from 20 kg to 25kg.
“A release allowed teams to gain 250 points regardless of the size. If a team brought a sailfish to the weigh station below 25kg, they would only receive 5 points per kilo and would end up with less points than if they had released the sailfish,” SSFC’s Secretary Grant Heyer told SNA in an email interview on Tuesday.
The weighing of fish at the end of every competition attracts quite a large crowd and on Saturday those who turned up were also able to get more acquainted with the tag and release aspect of the competition through a large screen set up at the Marine Charter in the island nation’s capital of Victoria.
|A total of 11 boats and 69 anglers took part in this year's South East Monsoon Sailfish Tournament. (SSFC) Photo License: CC-BY|
“With releasing fish becoming more and more a part of our tournaments, it is important to show the crowd what is actually happening on the boats. Releasing the sailfish leads to less fish coming to the weigh station for the crowd to see and SSFC has to balance that with video footage of the releases and general fishing videos from Seychelles to further promote sports fishing,” said Heyer.
Having tagged and released 2 sailfish, Team FINS took home the trophy for the most billfish released while three other teams Island Star, Mimi 2 and B2 Bombers managed to release one sailfish each.
“It was a very good result with 6 sailfish caught and only one brought to the weigh station. The other 5 were released,” said Heyer.
|Team FINS winner of the Most Billfish Released trophy. (SSFC) Photo License: CC-BY|
Overall it's B2 Bombers consisting of the father and children team of Stephen, Peter and Gabrielle Blakemore along with fishing colleagues Russel Edmunds and Jude Laurence that managed to outclass all other teams coming out as the grand winner of the competition with a total of 525 points. Team Fins and Team Island Star came out second and third overall respectively.
For Stephen Blakemore the win was indeed a satisfying result after he had not been out sports fishing in 2 and a half years although he said he has some 30 years of fishing experience and trophies to show for it.
British-Born Blakemore who has been residing and doing business in Seychelles for 10 years said that his team did not venture very far and stayed fishing close to the third largest island of the Seychelles Silhouette so as not to run into rough seas.
“We had the smallest boat and not the most experienced team although between myself and the skipper we had some 60 years of fishing experience so to come out as the winner was a very satisfying result which a lot of people was not anticipating.”
The heaviest of the categories of fish brought in at the end of the tournament was a 31 kg Yellowfin Tuna by Team Ocean Pearl.
|Screenshot taken from video of angler Stephen Blakemore of B2 Bombers with the rod and the team's released sailfish caught on camera. (Stephen Blakemore/Facebook) Photo License: All Rights Reserved|
The Seychelles islands is known to have one of the richest big game fishing grounds in the world and has recently been making this more commonly known worldwide including by joining the International Game Fish Association, IGFA, Great Marlin Race in September last year, which is aimed at joining other sport fishing countries that partner with the international organisation to contribute towards scientific research on the billfish.
And in recent competitions anglers have started to make the list of people honoured for outstanding accomplishment in the sport.
While some fishing enthusiasts became members of the International Game Fish Association, IGFA's grand slam clubs last year, an 8.00kg Rusty Jobfish caught during a tournament in April this year was also waiting to be confirmed as a world record.
SSFC recently received confirmation that Seychelles now holds the All-Tackle World Record for the 8kg Rusty Jobfish caught by angler Mangi Katana who was awarded the promised cash prize amounting to a little over $700 (10,000 Seychelles rupees) at the South East Monsoon Sailfish tournament's prize-giving ceremony on Sunday.
|Picture 1: Katana with his 8kg rusty jobfish caught in April. Picture 2: Katana happily receiving his cash prize.(SSFC) Photo License: CC-BY|
“It is the first time a fish has been able to be submitted for a World Record at an SSFC Tournament so it is very important. There are many other opportunities for Seychelles World Records but to qualify for them, not only does the fish have to be big enough, the fish have to be caught a certain way with specific fishing tackle setup. As angler's learn the methods and requirements of IGFA, we should see more and more opportunities to submit fish for World Records from Seychelles,” Heyer told SNA.
The next annual competition on SSFC’s calendar is the La Digue Offshore Fishing Tournament starting October 23 which will see sports fishing enthusiasts converge to the third most populated Seychelles island.