Posts Tagged ‘Grand Cayman’

Nov 6, 2012

Meeting with Sir Richard Branson

Michael Ryan, Guy Harvey, Madeleine Ryan, Jessica Harvey and Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin conglomerate of companies was here in Grand Cayman for the weekend. He gave the keynote interview at the Alternative Investment Conference held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel at the invitation of Michael Ryan, the event host and organizer. Other notable interviews were conducted with former US President George W. Bush and with former world number one golfer Greg Norman.

Several weeks ago, I had applied to meet with Sir Richard for a few minutes to discuss the potential for collaboration with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation in research and conservation projects that would be beneficial and make a difference in furthering our knowledge and therefore enhance the management process and conservation of large pelagic animals.

Sir Richard welcomed the four of us, Michael Ryan and his daughter Madeleine plus myself and my daughter Jessica. I gave Sir Richard a quick overview of the GHOF, how we raise funds and what sort of research and educational projects the GHOF currently conducts. I gave him specifics about tiger shark, mako shark, bluefin tuna and billfish research.

I elaborated on the role the research by the GHOF had played in showing the importance of the Bahamas archipelago to many species of sharks. In a collaborative effort with the Bahamas National Trust and the Pew Environmental Group, we convinced the government of the Bahamas to protect all sharks from commercial exploitation within their 200 mile EEZ.

Here in the Cayman Islands, the GHOF has broader interests in work on Nassau grouper conservation, lionfish eradication and recruitment plus climate change studies at CCMI in Little Cayman. We are also actively engaged in shark research and blue marlin migration studies.

Documentary film making has been a priority, so during the last year the Guy Harvey Expeditions team of producer George Schellenger, Guy Harvey and Jessica Harvey, have been on location nine times to conduct shoots in Panama, Nova Scotia, Little Cayman, Bahamas twice, Cocos Island, Costa Rica, Isla Mujeres, Mexico on three occasions teaming up with Captain Anthony Mendillo and crew to complete shoots on sailfish, mako sharks and whale sharks. Sir Richard was particularly interested in the sailfish and whale shark work as he has visited Isla Mujeres on several occasions guided by Captain Anthony. We discussed the limited research done on sailfish and whale sharks and the opportunity to collaborate with the Georgia Aquarium research team in future research and conservation efforts.

I went to some length explaining the value of catch and release sport fishing to Caribbean island and Central American economies. I emphasized the need for a regional approach as many of the large pelagic species cover great distances crossing several jurisdictions. This requires a regional approach in management and conservation as one country’s regulations may not be the same as its neighbours.

I explained the need for research work on all the species mentioned, as without the scientific data one cannot make management decisions and thus achieve sustainability and conservation. Fishing is the method by which we access many of these creatures for study, underwater photography, tagging and genetic work. Sir Richard was not keen on fishing but acknowledged it is a useful tool in this arena.

Sir Richard welcomed the opportunity to participate in collaborative studies and the consequent dissemination of information necessary for sustainability.

We moved on to some more local issues, the hot topics being the condition of the Cayman Turtle Farm and the issue regarding stingray conservation through law. Sir Richard was concerned that turtles could still be fished by local licensed fishermen, very archaic, given this was the 21st century and that they were protected world-wide. I pointed out that none of the current license holders have continued with this activity. The turtle farm itself needed to be divested I said, and turned into a better marine attraction whose focus was more on turtle replenishment, research and husbandry than on the consumption of the turtle meat. There are hundreds of thousands of turtle lovers out there in North America who would be only too happy to give $5 or $10 towards a satellite tagging programme and let the turtles go and provide information about migrations and long distance journeys.

The stingrays…poor stingrays… have been sabotaged and removed by unknown persons for the last two years at least. The proof was in finding four tagged stingrays in the Dolphin Discovery tourist attraction. The owners will not release the remaining six rays. No one has explained how the rays got to this location. Our ray population has been reduced by almost 50% in the last two years. Sir Richard said it should be very simple to change the law and have stingrays enjoy full protection from poaching given their ecological importance and their value to the island. We all agreed with that. After all, the people of the Cayman Islands and millions of visitors have an enjoyed and benefited from this unique experience for the last 30 years.

The value of the last ten years worth of research by the GHOF and the Dept of Environment has provided the base line information about this population. It is because of the scientific record of population numbers that we have been able to track the decline and the subsequent revelation of four of these rays ending up at Dolphin Discovery in West Bay.

The proposed expansion of marine parks by the Dept of Environment was a good move and Sir Richard commented that fishing has been known to improve in areas adjacent to marine parks. He said there are models out now that show countries need to protect 40 – 50 % of their shallow reef areas to ensure long term survivability. I commented that the Cayman Islands were a world leader in the formation of marine parks and in the protection of the spawning sites of the iconic Nassau grouper. I presented Sir Richard with a DVD copy of Mystery of the Grouper Moon and a copy of This is Your Ocean; Sharks.

Sir Richard was very gracious and listened to many of our comments and suggestions, making notes and the meeting was much appreciated by all involved.

We at the GHOF look forward to collaborating with Sir Richard and his foundation on several projects.

We also look forward to the day when the airport in George Town, Grand Cayman is expanded and to the arrival of Virgin Atlantic jets to our beautiful island.

It is our collective responsibility to conserve the marine environment and maintain the biodiversity of the planet.

Fish responsibly, dive safely.

—Guy Harvey PhD.

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

 

May 13, 2011

Blue Marlin Fishing After Filming Grouper Documentary- Part II

Day 3 had calmer weather and we went out wide of the island and soon found a circling frigate bird. Under this was a big female dolphin, but she looked at a couple of lures and went away. Shortly afterwards, the first blue for day showed up and took a couple of bites on the long right before fading off.

We trolled west to the 12 mile bank and as we got to the NE corner, Derrin spotted a pair of fins stationary at the surface. I raced up the ladder to have a look…swordfish! No doubt. It was sunning in the middle of the day on the flat calm surface. As we trolled closer, the fish stirred, swam and then went under. We circled the area, and not three minutes later, the sword came up on the long right lure, bill out and took a slash at the lure, before going about its business. Derrin nearly fell off the flybridge in his excitement.

A little later, Derrin got a radio call from a local fisherman, Ferris Ebanks Cayman’s “old man”. He was drifting chunks for yellowfin and had just hooked a marlin so was going to pass it over to us to catch and tag. In Cayman, the local fishermen generally release the marlin they hook while fishing for tuna.

Alex Harvey waiting for the bite

Alex took the rod, and settled down for a fight. The local anglers use 80# line straight to the hook so there was no leader, and Alex had to use a light drag. After ten minutes the marlin jumped about three hundred yards away and we backed down on the belly in the line recovering it all and got over the marlin. It was beautiful swimming about thirty feet down, face and bill lit up neon blue as was its tail. I used my underwater video on the swim platform to get shots. The surface was so calm you could see the fish clearly. Time to go in!

I did a couple of passes on the marlin and realized I could overtake the fish and deploy the PSAT underwater without ever having to wire the fish and risk breaking the light leader. So said…so done. George got the necessary footage and just then the thin leader broke at the circle hook and the 175# blue marlin swam off carrying a PSAT. I had not more tags on board.

We headed east again up the north side of the bank, saw a marlin free jumping and headed over to the spot…kaboom! An agitated 150# blue took to the air, and it was Andi’s turn again on the 30# tackle. The marlin made some awesome jumps coming at the boat, and going across the stern before sounding. George was excited. All good, Andi pumped the marlin to the boat, and I went for the usual swim to get the release on film. Glenn and Alex did the honors and the marlin swam off hastily.

We immediately started trolling again and as Andi was letting out his line, a marlin ate the lure and started thrashing around behind the boat. We all looked at each other in amazement. How often does that happen? Alex was up and fought the fish to a standstill without any jumps in short order, and we called the marlin 300# and cut her off quickly, a very green fish.

This was the first time George had been marlin fishing. He certainly was thrown in at the deep end and was able to shoot a lot of great footage. No more bites for the day, and we ended up 3 for 4 on marlin for the day, 4 for 7 on the shoot. I was very proud of the crew, Captain Derrin and Glenn, who did a great job and I would recommend them to anyone visiting Grand Cayman who wants to do some big game fishing, or charter them for a tournament.

On day 4 George and I went to the sandbar early before any of the tour boats arrived and we had the stingrays to ourselves. They exhibit schooling behavior which is unusual for a typically solitary predator, and I wanted to capture some of this behavior on film. We then had another great wall dive accompanied by eagle rays and turtles, jacks and groupers, as well as the odd lionfish.

Next on the agenda were interviews with the Director of the Department of Environment Gina Ebanks-Petri and the Deputy Director Timothy Austin. Each gave solid interviews about the value of the scientific work being done by REEF and collaborating scientists and how valuable this last remaining Nassau grouper SPAG(Spawning Aggregation) site was to the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean as a whole.

It’s a wrap. We did more shooting around town and in the Guy Harvey Gallery and Shoppe and across the road at the original Guy Harvey Island Grill. George Town is a popular destination for cruise ship visitors and stay –over visitors and they enjoy the tranquility and cleanliness of these islands while browsing the shops, restaurants and beaches.

I am confident that this documentary will tell the success story of how the research effort and conservation of the last remaining Nassau grouper spawning site in the central and western Caribbean may see the beginning of a recovery of this overexploited species. Indeed, it is a success story with which the people and government of the Cayman Island should be very proud.

The Marine Conservation Board will meet within the next month to determine whether protection for the spawning sites should be extended. It seems to be common sense to protect any species at times of spawning but, particularly the Nassau grouper, which has been brought to the very edge of extinction throughout its geographic range by lack of proper management and just sheer human greed.

Enough already! Let’s get this done.

Dive safely fish responsibly. 

—Guy Harvey

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

May 6, 2011

Blue Marlin Fishing After Filming Grouper Documentary- Part I

Following the incredible Cayman Islands Squash tournament April 3 – 9, I got going on finishing the Grouper Moon documentary which I started in mid- February. By way of a recap, producer/cameraman George Schellenger and I spent 6 days in Little Cayman shooting the research work being done by the REEF personnel (please visit www.REEF.org) and volunteers along with staff from the Department of Environment, Cayman Island Government.

The timing was such that we experienced the dusk spawn of about 2500 Nassau groupers a few days after the full moon in February. We shot all the daytime census-taking and measuring of adults (using lasers mounted on underwater cameras) gathered for the spawn. We conducted many interviews with the different interest and user groups. It was a very comprehensive shoot.

So… on to Grand Cayman. In order to show all the marine conservation interests at work, I scheduled a four day shoot around Grand Cayman. I wanted to show what Grand Cayman has to offer on and under the water. We started out with an hour long helicopter tour with Jerome and Natalie of Cayman Helicopters, who run a superb heli-experience which can be customized, depending on what you want to see and achieve. That afternoon we dived the Kittiwake and were lucky as a huge school of horse-eye jacks enveloped the superstructure making an awesome scene in the 100 foot viz water.

Andi is hooked up

In addition, there were bar jacks, rainbow runner, squid, tons of juvenile squirrelfish, copper sweepers, blue tangs and other grazing reef fish taking advantage of the new growth of algae up and down the steel hull. An 80 pound goliath grouper has also adopted the wreck. George and I then went to the sandbar to get some stingray footage before heading out to Hammerhead Hill, one of my favorite north wall dives. We encountered groups of spotted eagle rays, a hawksbill turtle, six different species of groupers, and a big hogfish being cleaned by some mini wrasses. Just too cool! Enough for one day of action packed diving.

Day 2 and 3, we were aboard the “Hit ‘n’ Run”, a well maintained 40 foot Luhrs, owned and captained by Derrin Ebanks. I coerced, friend and restaurant owner, Andi Marcher (of “Ragazzi” and “Luca” fame) to come along with my son Alex to be anglers. In two days they each caught two fine blue marlin. The weather was just perfect…it never gets too calm for me, particularly when you are blue marlin fishing.

Day 2 started early. While we waited for the charter boat to arrive, we were amazed at the eagle rays, big sting rays, tarpon and bonefish that were rooting around in the sand by the dock. We left Morgan’s Harbour at the crack of 8 a.m. and trolled about a mile off the coast heading west toward the 12 mile bank all the time looking for frigate birds that would signal the presence of dolphin or marlin. We missed a couple of them, one was a cheap shot but the second was a ripper that had captain Derrin doing a dance on the flybridge.

Blue Marlin, just prior to release

I saw her come in fast from the right side as she crashed the short right lure, then came back around in a swirl for the bite with dorsal and bill out. The big marlin did not come tight and again came in on the same lure. The hair on the back of my neck was standing up when I saw the height of her dorsal fin. She ate this time, was hooked and started jumping straight away going off to the right and then (as a blue marlin can) turned around and headed off to the left like a jetski on steroids. Unfortunately, she crossed the left rigger line and that reel also started howling. Somehow…. the hook came out and after a series of fabulous grey-hounding jumps ….she said goodbye. Lots of great action but no results… and it was only 11 a.m.

We trolled down to 12 mile Bank, and worked the NE tip of this seamount before heading to the SW tip as the current was coming from the NW. This three mile long seamount comes up from 3,500 feet to 90 feet from the surface. You need to fish on that end when the current is coming from the west. A yellowfin tuna popped up chasing flying fish, then a couple more. Cool. This was the place to be. Where there are tuna frolicking, a marlin will be nearby. Sure enough, the right rigger went down, but no hook-up. The marlin blazed over to the left rigger and we were tight. Andi was the angler on 30# test which is ideal tackle for a marlin of 125#. After lots of jumps far away, Andi got the marlin to the boat and I deployed the PSAT(Pop-up Satellite Archival Tag) in the marlin’s left shoulder. I got my gear on and jumped in to film the release. Very good. It was carrying a 3-month PSAT, and headed into the blue. No more bites for the day as we trolled home in perfect weather. That evening, we had a couple of beers at the little restaurant on the Morgan’s Harbour dock. A perfect end to the day.

See our next week’s blog for Part II

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

Apr 1, 2011

OF SHIPS AND TIGERS

It was a beautiful winter day with a light north easterly wind, providing for calm conditions in the protection of West Bay, anticipating the deployment and sinking of the USS Kittiwake here in Grand Cayman.  Accompanied by Jessica and Alexander, my kids who are both keen divers, we anchored outside the perimeter marked off by the Department of Environment and the Marine Police.  Regular updates on the VHF radio gave us an idea of the history of the ship and the projected sinking schedule. The details of the ship’s construction and service can be found on a number of dedicated websites.

Pumping sea water into the hold began around 10:30 a.m.  At approximately 2:25 p.m. she started sinking rapidly, stern going down and listing sharply to port.  I bet a number of people were holding their breath as it seemed she would topple over in spite of all the preparations, and then appeared to sink upright as air rushed from the port holes and open hatches.

GHRI and GHOF collaborate with other research organizations to better understand tiger sharks

I am a great supporter of artificial reefs, even in a coral reef environment such as ours.  Socio economic studies of artificial reefs in Florida demonstrate hundreds of thousands of dollars generated by individual artificial reefs from diving and sport fishing activity each year.  As it took about 8 years for this project to be executed, perhaps we, the diving community, the Cayman Island Tourism Association and the Cayman Island Government should immediately start the search for another suitable ship for an artificial reef to be the successor to the “Kittiwake”.  I will put my money where my mouth is and volunteer my Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) to assist in locating and funding the next ship.

Talking of mouths, the tiger shark has a big, wide mouth adapted to ripping large chunks out of dead, decaying marine mammals and has large serrated teeth, with re-curved tips designed like a can opener to feed on turtles.  Tiger sharks have been of great interest to me and my research arm, the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI).  We have tagged or sponsored the electronic tagging of 41 tiger sharks in the north western Atlantic in the last two years.  Each SPOT (Smart Position or Temperature Transmitting) tag deployed to the dorsal fin of the shark costs about $2,500 and then another $500 for the satellite time and monitoring. We have tagged tigers: 28 in Bermuda, 7 in the United States Virgin Islands, 4 in the Bahamas and just recently two in Grand Cayman.

The GHRI and GHOF collaborated with a number of research organizations in each of these island territories, which is why the project has been so successful.  Tiger sharks, we are now discovering, make seasonal migrations spending much of the warm summer months cruising in the open ocean, often in very deep water, looking for migrating turtles and feeding opportunistically on dead floating animals such as dolphin, whales, fish and sea birds.  In the winter, they move into the reef environment around oceanic islands in the Caribbean and Bahamas and will come into very shallow water targeting rays, fish and lobsters.

The Overseas Territories Environmental Programme, with assistance from the DoE, has sponsored a shark population analysis study in the Cayman Islands.  Being particularly interested in tiger sharks here, the GHOF sponsored SPOTs when the team caught and tagged two tigers in early December 2010.  Both were caught at night in North Sound and successfully released bearing an internal sonic tag and external SPOT attached to the dorsal fin.  Each time the animal swims at the surface, the tag sends a signal to a satellite giving its position very accurately.  The team was also able to tag Caribbean reef sharks, black tip sharks and nurse sharks—all caught at night in North Sound.

Divers and photographers have been safely interacting with tiger sharks for decades and have watched in horror as their numbers and those of other pelagic migratory sharks have been annihilated for the last three decades in the shark fin trade that threatens to clear all sharks from the planet.

If you are lucky enough to see one of the tiger sharks we have tagged, please send me or the DoE a photo of the animal.  If you happen to catch one while out fishing, then please release the animal alive (as you should release all sharks alive) responsibly.  In time, all shark species around Cayman will receive the protection they surely need under the new Conservation Law.

Fish responsibly, dive safely.

— Guy Harvey

 For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

Sep 29, 2010

Guy Harvey Touches Up Cayman Airport Mural

Guy touching up his 32 foot long mural at Owen Roberts International Airport on his home island of Grand Cayman

The Cayman Island Airport Authority are sprucing up Owen Roberts International Airport, so asked me to come in and touch up the paintings that have been there for 6 years for the enjoyment of all arriving residents and visitors.

Guy gives the "thumbs up" to his barracuda among the back reef life

All the paintings were cleaned and restored and hung in the original 8 panel sequence, depicting the magnificent coral reef animals for which the Cayman Islands are famous. Going from shallow water with quintessential stingrays on the left through the back reef with tarpon, barracuda, parrotfish and hogfish, out to the deep fore reef with turtles, sharks and spotted eagle rays on the right in one beautiful sequence.

Vivid colors of sea life at the deep fore reef

It is the only original 8 panel painting I have done.  In the immigration hall of ORIA a 32 foot X 12 foot painting of a Cayman fisherman catching a giant blue marlin in a catboat is the second largest airport mural I have done.  The biggest is the 90 foot X 35 foot mural in Ft. Lauderdale Airport, Terminal One in Florida.

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

Jul 28, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month | July

July marked the beginning of the second half of my quest to catch a blue marlin from Cayman Island waters during each month of the year.  A single failure during the first half of the year would have put a halt to my pursuit, but I had been “lucky” enough to catch a blue marlin each calendar month from January through June.  Any doubts that I had about being successful had less to do with a confidence in my ability to consistently catch fish, and more to do with my busy work schedule, limiting me, for the most part, to fishing on weekends, and only those where I wasn’t traveling and fishing conditions looked favorable.  As mid-summer arrived, those concerns were fully realized.  Travel and family commitments severely restricted my fishing time, but I was able to “release” that all-important single blue marlin on July 13 to keep my streak alive.

A spirited blue marlin churns the surface of Grand Cayman's western Caribbean waters before being brought boatside and released

I’m reminded that my goal is not to just prove I can catch a blue marlin from the waters around the Cayman Islands each month of the year, but that such an accomplishment helps demonstrate that a Grand Cayman marlin fishery is stronger than previously thought.  Diving is the featured watersport attraction around the Cayman Islands, while sport fishing has yet to reach it’s full potential.  That being said, the means to accommodate an influx of bluewater fishermen on a year-round basis are in place.

First of all, getting to Grand Cayman is very easy.  Cayman Airways, the national flag carrier of the Cayman Islands, schedules daily flights from Miami, just 65 minutes away, as well as regularly scheduled direct flights from Tampa and New York.  American Airlines, Continental Airlines, US Airways and Delta Air also schedule direct flights from major airports throughout the eastern half of the U.S.  Once you’ve arrived, you’ll find an abundance of first-class resorts and hotels in the Cayman Islands, with the Ritz-Carlton and the Westin Casuarina heading an ever-expanding list.  For family travelers, there are also many condos available for weekly stays.  Visit: www.caymanislands.ky for complete information about accommodations — and fishing opportunities.  Though the best time for blue marlin fishing around Grand Cayman is generally from March through June, I’m on my way to proving that you can catch them year-round.  Tournament dates and fishing news are available from the Cayman Islands Angling Association’s website at www.fishcayman.com.  A number of other Cayman websites offer information about fishing charters, including www.divecayman.ky .  If you’re bringing your own boat from the States, the old Cayman Yacht Club, Morgan’s Harbour, and a newer marina at The Barcadere, in North Sound, have berths available, as does Harbour House Marina, which also offers a haul-out service.

The Guy Harvey Gallery & Shoppe in the heart of George Town, fully stocked with Guy Harvey artwork, sportswear and gifts, is a must-see destination for anglers visiting Grand Cayman Island

A great family vacation destination, Grand Cayman offers something for everyone, with amazing waterfront shopping and sightseeing in a safe, clean, English-speaking environment.  And of course, if you and your family enjoy both diving and fishing, you’ve come to the right place.  

As a reminder, when you schedule your next trip, plan on visiting my 4,000 square-foot retail Guy Harvey Gallery & Shoppe in the heart of George Town, stocked with original works of art, limited edition prints, a complete selection of Guy Harvey Sportswear, plus many other gifts and souvenirs.  Also worth a stop in George Town is Guy Harvey’s Island Grill, a combination restaurant and gift shop, featuring a specialty menu, a casual decor and a selection of Guy Harvey Sportswear and gift items.  For more information, visit www.harveysgrill.com/

My July ended with having spent little time on the water and catching that single — but important — blue marlin.  Unfortunately, in looking forward, I could see that my prospects for getting out to fish would not be much better during August.  In addition, mid to late summer often marks the beginning of hurricane season, which can unpredictably further complicate things.  Though there should be plenty of blue marlin around, getting to them could prove problematic.

Guy Harvey

 

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

May 12, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month| May 2010

Highlighting Guy's fishing in May was a blue marlin that staged an aerial display reminiscent of the featured on a number of Guy Harvey T-shirt designs

Highlighting Guy's fishing in May was a blue marlin that staged an aerial display reminiscent of the featured on a number of Guy Harvey T-shirt designs

The month of May is bordering prime time for blue marlin fishing in the waters around Grand Cayman Island, my home for the last decade.  In 2008, this was a month when continuing my quest to catch a blue marlin from my home waters during each month of the year would have seemed like a given — had it not been for my busy work schedule.  Of course, I had anticipated these kinds of challenges and more before I even began this pursuit.  For the most part, I would be limited throughout the year to fishing on weekends, and only those where I wasn’t traveling and when conditions appeared favorable.  My goal was attainable, but over the course of an entire year, it was going to be a tough one to achieve.

Complicating matters further was the fact that, more often than not, I would be fishing by myself or with just one other person (sometimes experienced and at other times not) aboard my relatively small 28-foot Scout center console.  I don’t have the bodies to work a typical bait and switch scenario; otherwise, I would.  My best chance, then, is to troll lures.  The blue marlin in the western Caribbean are generally small (120 to 160 pounds) but very aggressive, so the lures work well.  My lures of choice are most often Mold Craft Soft Heads — especially the Wide Range.  I seem to get most of my bites on the right short rigger where I run a black-and-red combination.  On the left short I usually run a black-and-red Super Chugger.  Completing the spread, I tend to run either a purple-and-black or a pink-and-white skirted combination on the long riggers, and on the stinger I troll a Junior Wide Range/ballyhoo combo.

I’ve had good success with single hook lure rigs, particularly since switching to Mustad 7691S hooks in 9/0 and 10/0 sizes.  This hook, sometimes called a tuna hook, has more of a curve than the regular J hook and sticks a lot better.  In 2007, I was only 4 for 16 in hooking up marlin that took my lures — a poor score.  Following the suggestion of Capt. O.B. O’Bryan, I changed to the Mustad hooks and my hookup ratio increased dramatically, as evidenced by my success during the first four months of my pursuit — and a trend that would continue throughout the remainder of the year.

Testing the on-the water advantages of the newest additions to his fishing sportswear line, Guy Harvey prepares to deploy a favorite blue marlin trolling lure

Testing the on-the water advantages of the newest additions to his fishing sportswear line, Guy Harvey prepares to deploy a favorite blue marlin trolling lure

Though finding time to fish in May was pretty tough, all efforts proved successful.  With fishing partner Jim Sedgley on board, we caught the biggest blue marlin of the year, to date, on the northeast corner of Twelve Mile Bank.  Estimated at 375 pounds, the big fish staged one of the most remarkable aerial displays I have ever witnessed from a blue marlin.  Perhaps part of the reason was that Sedgley made quick work of the big fish, bringing it in quickly, where it jumped repeatedly right next to the boat.  This was another one of those instances where I wished I had a video crew on board to capture the sensational action.  It was a mere 30 minutes between hookup and release of that amazing marlin, after which we hooked another big blue at the other end of the bank later in the day.  It too made some great jumps, but came unbuttoned in the process.

I was relieved to have been able to continue my streak of catching a marlin each of the first five months of the year, given my concerns going into May.  Adding to the satisfaction was the visions burned into my mind of one of the most memorable battles with a blue marlin that I had ever witnessed.  That had me eagerly anticipating June fishing, typically one of the very best times of the year to catch marlin around Grand Cayman Island, and a month where I hoped to pursue my quest in a more flexible and relaxed fashion.    

Guy Harvey

Check this blog next month for my adventures in June, 2008, as I continue my quest to catch a blue marlin every month of the year. 

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

Feb 9, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month | February 2010

Fresh from my success in catching a blue marlin during the last week of January, I was anxious to continue my quest to catch at least one of these magnificent creatures each month from my home waters around Grand Cayman.  As February arrived, also “fresh” was my memory of last month’s dual hookups on blues at Twelve Mile Bank.  It should be no surprise then that I chose the bank as our destination when I fished with my brother-in-law Jonathan Collier, who made a February visit from Australia.  The day was relatively uneventful up until we finally hooked up with a blue marlin while trolling back from the bank.  During the lengthy battle, the jumping fish got wrapped up in the leader, but we were able to successfully release the 140-pounder at boat-side.

Guy finds the Performance fishing shirt and visor, recent additions to his line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, to be boat-worthy while trolling for marlin

Guy finds the Performance fishing shirt and visor, recent additions to his line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, to be boat-worthy while trolling for marlin

Next to visit, was friend and renowned English wildlife artist Ian Coleman. Ian dives a lot but he had never caught a blue marlin.  On February 25, after enjoying a fantastic morning dive at Tarpon Alley, we boarded my 26-foot center console, and once again I headed for the Twelve Mile Bank.  Our fishing activities were delayed when we encountered a broken-down boat that we towed back to West Bay, so we didn’t make it out to the bank until about noon.  Even at that, we were pleasantly greeted with an abundance of surface activity as frigatebirds worked over schools of feeding skipjack tunas.

It wasn’t long before we trolled up a marlin in our spread, but this first one embarrassed me — inspecting our offerings but then passing up all four lures! Feeling the frustration, I continued to circle the area until the left short rigger went down hard — blue marlin!  As Coleman was settling in his harness to prepare for his first-ever battle with a blue, the right rigger got bit — two on!  I left that rod in the holder while scrambling to retrieve the left flat when yet another blue marlin pounced on that lure.  Wow!  This was starting to feel like familiar territory.

The triple hook-up was short-lived, as the first marlin shook off quickly.  After another 10 minutes or so, the second fish came off, so Coleman was left to fight the third fish while I steered the boat.  It was a tough battle, but Ian got his first blue marlin, a fish I judged to be 170-plus pounds.  After a successful release, out went the lures again, and within 15 minutes, another marlin crashed the right long rigger and jumped going away.  Coleman was cooked, so I grabbed the rod and worked the fish to the boat, a blue that was smaller then our first at about 125 pounds.  That concluded 90 minutes of seemingly non-stop action where we scored five blue marlin bites and released two.

BLUE TANGO: Guy's painting portrays a blue marlin feeding on skipjack tunas, which was the case when he fished Twelve Mile Bank in February

BLUE TANGO: Guy's painting portrays a blue marlin feeding on skipjack tunas, which was the case when he fished Twelve Mile Bank in February

Two days later, on February 27, I snuck in my last blue marlin of the month while fishing with visiting angler Jim Armour.  We hooked up just off the area known as Papagallo on North West Point.  I was particularly excited because this was the first fish and the first marlin caught from my new 28-foot Scout Makaira II.  With a cold front approaching, we decide to squeeze the trip in before what would almost certainly be several days of rough seas.  Around Grand Cayman, the trick to fishing during the winter months is to carefully choose good weather days, as it does get very rough on the water with fronts bringing strong northwest then northeast winds.

— Guy Harvey

Check this blog next month for my adventures in March, 2008, as I continue my quest to catch a blue marlin every month of the year.

Jan 20, 2010

Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month | January 2010

My Quest for Blue Marlin

The month of January marked the beginning of my quest to catch a blue marlin each month from the waters around Grand Cayman, the tiny Caribbean island that has been my home for the last decade.  However, this is typically a busy time for me, and it wasn’t until the last week of January, in 2008, that I was finally able to break away for a day of fishing aboard my 26-foot Dusky Makaira.  A last minute decision meant that I would be fishing alone, and any hope I might have had of catching a marlin every month of the year was fading.  Still, I wasn’t going to let January slip by without at least giving it a try.

Guy Harvey testing trolling lures during his 12 month pursuit

Guy Harvey examining trolling lures during his 12 month pursuit

The day’s adventure began as I was trolling three miles west of North West Point, at a spot known as the pinnacle.  Surveying the boat’s wake where I had four lines out, I spotted a high dorsal fin streaking in behind the lure I had on the right short rigger.  The strike popped the rubber band with a satisfying slap and line started pouring off the reel.  I continued to throttle ahead at trolling speed to keep pressure on the marlin while I quickly cleared the three other lines and slipped into my fighting belt and harness.  This would be a challenge, as I was on my own — captain, mate and angler all rolled into one.

I braced myself against the console and spun my 26-footer to chase the marlin as it headed downsea, jumping magnificently in a series of head-shaking leaps.  Maneuvering the boat by using my left hand to both operate the throttle and steer the wheel, I faced the big fish off the starboard bow and was able to keep up with it until the marlin decided to sound.  After a spell, the fish changed tactics and popped to the surface ahead of the boat, where it started wildly jumping again.  Then it suddenly turned and charged the boat, which put me in a bad spot.  I cranked hard on the reel in an attempt to keep the line tight as I was running around the bow to keep my line clear of the outrigger halyards as the fish sped on by.

Prior to its release, Guy Harvey leaders and photographs his first Blue Marlin of 2008

Prior to its release, Guy Harvey leaders and photographs his first Blue Marlin of 2008

It was an exciting 20 minutes of fast-paced action before I finally got the blue to the boat.  For me, the first order of business was to grab the leader and wrap it around a cleat so I could free up my hands to take a photo of the beautifully lit-up 150-pounder.  I then quickly removed the hook from the marlin’s upper jaw, revived the fish for a minute, and after releasing my grip from the bill, watched it swim off like a rocket.  That was quite a milestone for me — my first blue marlin caught on the water alone.

After pausing a bit to savor the moment, I throttled the boat forward, methodically reset my lines, and trolled west to Twelve Mile Bank.  My day of fishing excitement wasn’t done.  Reaching the southwestern corner of the bank, I suddenly found myself hooked up with two jumping blues at one time.  I’ve never felt so shorthanded in my life, and proceeded to lose one of the marlin after just five minutes.  The other jumped all over the ocean before it finally broke the leader.  My body was shaking with exertion and excitement.  Fishing alone, I had hooked and fought three of these great fish, managing one — my first solo blue — to the boat for release.

And so, it was this remarkable day of fishing at the end of January that served as a starting point for the pursuit of my lofty goal of catching a blue marlin from Grand Cayman waters during each month of the year.  In quite an exhilarating fashion, my quest had begun.

Guy Harvey

Check this blog next month for my adventures in February, as I continue my quest to catch a blue marlin every month of the year.

Dec 31, 2009

Intro to Guy Harvey’s Marlin a Month Series

Guy Harvey releasing a Blue Marlin during his year long effort to catch a Marlin-a-Month in the Cayman Islands

Guy Harvey releasing a Blue Marlin during his year long effort to catch a Marlin-a-Month in the Cayman Islands

I trust you all are having a Happy Holiday with you families and friends.  This time of year always makes us both look forward and look back.  As I do so now I am reminded of my own family and friends and of the kindness so many people have extended to me.  I am also reminded of the ocean, of how we all need to focus on learning more about it and taking care of the fish that call it home.  I can’t help but think of the magnificence, adventures, and joy the seas provide.

One such adventure for me took place in January of 2008 while fishing in Grand Cayman.  I released my first blue marlin caught alone. What a thrill!  It was quite a milestone and set me off on a 12-month journey to see if I could catch a blue marlin every month of the year in my home waters.  The Cayman Islands are better known for its diving than its fishing, as sport fishing has yet to reach its full potential.  From my personal experiences and from local friends such as full-time fisherman, Charles Ebanks and his father Ferris, I thought this could be accomplished.  This effort was not only a personal challenge, it would also help demonstrate the fact that the year round Grand Cayman fishery was stronger than previously known.

With my travel and work schedule I had to try and reach this goal fishing only on weekends when I was at home.  Adding to the challenge was the fact that most of the time I was fishing by myself or with only one other person.  Even with a passenger, the odds were difficult as two people play the roles of captain, mate and angler while one of the most magnificent fish in the sea does her best to make things as complicated and difficult as possible.  What made this marlin-a-month journey even tougher was the fact that I fish from a smaller, outboard-powered boat.  Bigger inboard boats create a bigger and better disturbance in the water which can entice billfish to check out the situation, as it can look to them like a feeding event for predators.  In fact I have filmed both billfish and tuna rising to check out a boat’s wake even when no lures or live baits were being trolled.

As it turned out, my quest was quite an adventure.  My friends at Marlin Magazine wrote about this in a 2009 issue and I thought you would also enjoy my reliving this experience with you each month during 2010 here on this blog.  As 2009 comes to a close I wish you all much good health and good fishing in 2010.

Cheers