The Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament is as big as they come. As the richest tournament in the north western Caribbean, the four day event will see anglers from across the region descend on Grand Cayman for the start of the tournament on 3 May in the hope of claiming their share of the more than $200,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs.
According to Frank Thompson, the president of the Cayman Islands Angling Association, the 2012 edition will mark the 15th anniversary of the tournament, which stakes its claim as the premier fishing tournament in the Cayman Islands. As part of this year’s tournament, the Angling Club, which was founded in 1983, will also be honouring its founding members, so the event promises to be an even bigger celebration than usual.
The prizes and prestige of the event usually draws an enthusiastic and international field.
“We average 50 to 60 boats in the tournament. We’re expecting several boats to travel from overseas, particularly Florida, to compete this year. In the past we’ve had anglers come from South Africa, Canada, Serbia, Central America, the US, and neighbouring island such as Jamaica to come and compete either with friends they have on the island who fish or they charter boats,” says Frank.
The entry fee into the base tournament is $500 per boat, which gives anglers a shot at the prizes for wahoo, yellowfin tuna, dolphin and some of the marlin release categories.
“For an additional $5000 you can buy into the marlin release jackpot, which is a winner take all pot. Last year the winner walked with $60,000 from the marlin release category. There is a second prize that is sponsored by the club as well,” says Frank.
The jackpot is a catch and release event, with 300 points awarded for a verified Blue Marlin release and 100 points for any other eligible billfish release. The winner of the jackpot will be the team with the greatest number of points accumulated at the end to the four days of fishing.
The highlight of the event is that it is a qualifying tournament for the International Game Fishing Association world championships which is held every year at Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.
There are categories and prizes aplenty for anglers of all experience levels.
“There are also prizes for lady anglers, for junior anglers, for rookie anglers and for visiting anglers. So there are lots of prizes at the tournament and it covers a wide scope and there are lots of opportunities out there,” says Frank.
The captain of the boat with the most blue marlin releases will also walk away with a Rolex watch sponsored by Kirk Freeport.
For those folks that just want to come out and watch and don’t participate in the fishing can come to the weighing stations at Barcadere Marina in the evening to see what has been caught that day and also to enjoy the festivities.
“We have food and drink on site and we try to build a festive atmosphere,” says Frank.
The tournament is set to kick off with the traditional and very impressive Bimini start on 3 May, with the four days of fishing ending on 6 May. The registration for the event takes place in Grand Cayman on 1 May and the prize giving for the event is going to take place on 8 May.
Tournament fishing hours are from 6am to 4.30pm daily, with the weigh station at Barcadere Marina open from 4.30pm to 6.30pm.
The tournament has a strong focus on the environment as well, with minimum weights in place for all species and a catch and release rule for billfish.
For more information on the tournament and the Angling Club, visit fishcayman.com