The 10th annual Torneo Tropic Star got off to a good start. Thirty-one boats registered, 12 from the world famous Tropic Star Lodge fleet, and another private 19 boats from Panama City, ran 150 miles to Pinas Bay, on the southeast corner of the Darien Province, Panama. Visiting teams of three anglers charter the TSL boats, and rotate to a different boat each day. Three teams from the Cayman Islands, four from Canada, two from Jamaica and four from the USA take all the TSL boats.
Cayman Islands teams were; Cayman Hard Buoys with Troy Burke, Tony Berkman and Andrew McCartney; Cayman New Buoys with Alistair Walters, Sebastien Guilbard and Marcus Montana. The third team was Los Bamofos with Andi Marcher, Guy Harvey and Neil Burnie.
A practice day of fishing before the tournament begins gets everyone familiarized with the fishing techniques, crews, and tackle. A few minutes after the start of fishing Alistair Walters hooked, fought and released a 300lb black marlin at the famous Pinas Reef. Other teams went offshore while some stayed inside to fish for roosterfish, jacks and cubera snappers.
On Day 1, the Cayman Hard Buoys got off to a flying start with two blue marlin catches by Tony and Troy — a black marlin for Tony and a sailfish for Andrew — resulting in a PACIFIC GRAND SLAM; three different species of billfish in a single day.
Unfortunately, the first blue caught by Tony passed the 90 minute maximum fighting time as was DQed, but they jumped into the lead with two marlin and a sailfish anyway. Cayman New Buoys also did well holding second place with Marcus releasing a 300lb blue and Sebastien a 450lb blue on their first day. Los Bamofos scored a single sailfish, released by angler Andi Marcher.
Day 2 was a slow day for the Cayman teams except for Los Bamofos, when honorary Cayman angler Neil Burnie, from Bermuda, caught a fine 475lb blue marlin. The other two Cayman teams did not add to their score. Meanwhile, one of the Canadian teams pulled ahead with a total of three marlin releases, plus a magnificent 267lb yellowfin tuna. In addition, the Jamaican anglers were closing in with 14 year old Nicholas Chen bagging two blues and a sailfish.
Day 3 got off to a slow start but once the captains located the schools of bonitos, live bait was now available. Earlier in the day we had caught some 25lb yellowfin tunas and began pulling them live, hoping for a big black or blue marlin to take them. Live baiting is the preferred method of fishing for black and for blue marlin on the Pacific coast of Panama. The private boats from Panama City switched over to live bait fishing from pulling artificial lures once they saw how effective this method was at getting the bite.
The first blue marlin, caught by Los Bamofos, spent four excruciating minutes in the spread checking out all three baits, zipping back and forth and driving the crew crazy before it settled on the short bait. Angler Andi Marcher took 40 minutes to subdue this active 500lb blue marlin, and Los Bamofos was now catching up with a tally of two blue marlin and a sailfish.
Cayman New Buoys also scored early in the day with a 300lb black marlin by Marcus. Meanwhile, Cayman Hard Buoys lost a marlin, then had a double marlin bite hooking a 350lb black marlin which was caught by Tony Berkman, keeping them in third place. Right then, Los Bamofos lost two consecutive bites which would have put them in the running.
With fishing closing at 3p.m., Cayman New Buoys hooked and released their fourth marlin, a 450lb blue by Sebastien and now took over the lead from the Canadian team. An hour from the end of fishing, Los Bamofos scored with a magnificent blue marlin, to put them into fourth place.
After three days of competition, Cayman New Buoys ran off with Team Most Points (1200), after their first visit to Tropic Star. Canada came second (1000) on Time. Cayman Hard Buoys placed third (1000) on Time, having finished fourth last year. Team Los Bamofos placed fourth (1000) on Time. In total, the three Cayman teams contributed eleven marlin and two sailfish to the tournament total catch of 35 marlin and 9 sailfish.
Congratulations to the Cayman New Buoys! This event is a qualifying event for the Bonnier-IGFA World Tournament of Champions held in May 2011 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. This angling event is sanctioned by the Cayman Islands Angling Club and the Cayman Islands International Fishing tournament held in April each year is also a qualifying event. The winners go through to participate in this prestigious big game angling event. Good luck!
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