|The first sail of the GIFT Tournament dances across the water|
After almost a year of anticipation and preparation the 2011 GIFT Tournament has kicked off. Though there are only seven boats in this year’s tournament the competition for us is certainly stiff. It is good to see our fishing friends from previous tournaments and make some new ones. We have a new 2nd mate this year, Maxwell, aka Mako. From what I have witnessed of him during the practice days I believe that Jose and Marco have chosen well. After two practice days we feel we are ready. I can say this because during those two practice days we caught two marlin on fly. Kerwin caught his first black marlin on fly and I caught my 2nd blue on fly. We estimated the two marlin to be 250 and 300 lbs respectively. Kerwin caught his marlin in about 17 minutes and I caught mine in about 27 minutes. Even after catching literally hundreds of billfish on a fly I remain amazed that it is possible to catch such a strong fish on a fly rod. We even had a small striped marlin take a crack at eating the fly.
So it was with anticipation of another shot at a marlin that we put the teasers in the water at the 8:00 am start time. Kerwin was up first, which means that I will have some time to relax and take a read of the water before my turn comes. We see nothing until along about 10:30 when a black marlin of about 300 lbs takes a swipe at the left short teaser. Seeing this, Marco, Mako and Kerwin leap into action. After making the cast the marlin eats the fly and takes off for the horizon. While Kerwin prepares himself for a long battle with the marlin the mates clear the other teasers from the water and organize the cockpit. Everything happens in split seconds. Jose sees that we are all ready to chase the fish and begins backing down the FRENZY. At about 100 yards out the fish takes an abrupt left turn, clears the surface of the water with several amazing leaps then begins to greyhound across the surface with just his tail in the water. Spectacular, until the tippet breaks. Unfortunately we didn’t catch that marlin and earn the 500 points towards the tournament but the day was still young.
A short while later a hot sailfish comes screaming into the teasers, Marco works his magic by teasing the fish into position for me to make the cast. On Marco’s cue I cast the fly, the fish eats it like I eat ice cream and 3 minutes later we release our first fish of the tournament. High fives around the cockpit and thumbs up to Jose because we’re “on the board” with 100 points.
Kerwin’s back up now and we experience nothing in the teasers for a couple of hours. We decide to trade off and put me back up so that we always have a fresh angler on the ready. Marco and I are sitting on the drink boxes talking about things when we see a huge boil behind the left short teaser. In an instant Marco is teasing the marlin in by hand, when Marco calls for the cast I manage to lay the fly right down beside the teaser in perfect position for a bite. The lit up black marlin eats the fly and takes off. Knowing that it is a marlin I back off the drag to almost nothing. Fortunately for us all the marlin stays on top and allows us to get on him quickly. In less than 5 minutes we have him beside the boat. Seeing that I can get the leader in the rod tip for a legal release I yell to Jose to “go for him”. Jose puts the throttles down, I crank like mad while pushing the rod at the fish and at the instant that the leader enters the top guide Marco, Kerwin and I each yell “caught”. It’s a good thing that we caught him at that moment because the hooks pulled out of the fish immediately after that!
As if that was not enough excitement, less than two minutes later a sailfish is swatting his bill at the long right teaser. After another well executed cast and a short fight of 2 and a half minutes the team has another 100 points on the board.
Before lines out at 4:00 we hear that our good friend Marsha that owns El Gran Escape restaurant is hooked up to a marlin. Unfortunately she does not release the fish and earn the 500 points.
The FRENZY II has shots at 4 marlin, but no releases. What a day! I bet Rafa, Rudy and Rafita were speaking some rapid fire Spanish!
At sunset we arrive back at Marina Pez Vela and learn that we are in first place. With all the marlin swimming around out there tomorrow will truly be another day. Tonight we have all the anglers up to Casa Carolina for cheeseburgers and fishing stories.
The FRENZY continues…