The 28th Bonaire International and Local Fishing Tournaments were each a fantastic success. The International tournament, which is a catch and release tournament targeting bill fish, saw 24 participants, from Aruba, Curacao, Venezuela and Bonaire. All boats started facing south to cross the imaginary line which was quickly followed by a turn, as nearly all headed North as soon as the running start began with a bang of fireworks.
With the first strike only 12 minutes after lines went into the water, the first day, saw more releases then the entire tournament of years past. With an unprecedented 36 strikes of which only 2 were lost, a total of 2 Tunas were boarded and 9 Blue Marlin, 3 Sailfish and 20 White Marlin were caught and released. The day closed with a great party, many stories, the rock and reggae from the band RPM and a big buffet so everyone was content for the night
Day 2 was not far behind with 33 strikes, boarding 3 Dorado, again only 2 lost, and releasing 3 Blue, 8 Sail and 17 White’s. . Hey Chama from Curacao, the overall winner claimed a coveted grand slam on day one with their first three fish being a Blue, a White and a Sail fish. Living Easy the second place boat from Aruba also claimed a grand slam on day one, while the third place boat Talika also from Aruba had to wait till day 2 to complete this achievement.
The second day also included the local tournament where local fishermen go out for fish to eat. There are no intentional releases here! Among the 18 boats that participated, small tunas were the largest haul with the fishermen racing far out to the tankers waiting for their spot on the pier and fishing at night in their bright lights. There were also Yellow fin tunas, Jacks of many sorts, rainbow runners, barracudas, snappers, and more. The fishermen keep their catch, which they sell to restaurants and locals, so there was plenty of sushi around the island!
The boats participating in this tournament are split into 2 categories: Large, 17’ and over and Small, under 17’. The total haul was about 550kgs of fish. For the local small boats E. Josephia on SULY took 3rd place with 47.5kg of fish while Celsio Thielman on KUNA switched places from last year with Larry Gerharts on KWIDO who took first this year with 55 kg by a margin of only 1kg. A similar margin separated them last year as well with the other taking first. For the large boats, Andy Serberie on FATIMA took third with 55.5kg and Rudy de Jongh on MY TOY hauled in 38 fish for a total of 76.5kg while Marlon Nicolaas on WILD LADYS also brought in 38 fish for a total of 105kg.
At the awards there was a short presentation by Project Stormvogel, showing a short video of their project to restore the last remaining cargo sailing ship built on Bonaire, restoring not only the boat but a part of boat building history. They also honored their Jr shipwrights and volunteers, learning the traditional methods of Bonaireshipbuilding.
All in all the tournaments were a huge success and if you were not there yourself it may be a good idea to put in in your agenda and enjoy the festivities and fishing in Bonaire next year!