It was fitting that the 8th Annual Billfish Blast kicked off on July 4th because the scoreboard was lit up like a fireworks show with a finale that promised to get the crowd cheering. To really spark up the first day’s events, coinciding with the Billfish Blast was the World Cup Blue Marlin Championship and as lines went in the water at 8:30 AM on July 4th, the radio crackled with one hookup after another, starting with at the 8:49 AM mark when the crew of the_ Que Mas_ got throttled by a blue that was released after an eight-minute battle.
A few white releases filled the gaps until 9:23 a.m. when the_ Rum Bum_ released the next blue. Explosive fishing continued all through the early afternoon as blue marlin releases were tallied up by the crews of the Waste Knot, El Cazador, Triple Play and a double header of blues for_ Bree._ One of _Bree’_s fish was around 500-pounds and was caught after a 156-minute battle by angler Paula Ringhaver. _Bree’_s two blues and one white marlin release was enough to take the Daily Billfish Release Jackpots worth $31,800.
At 12:36 p.m. Captain Allan Bean and the crew of the Paradise One electrified the fleet with a solid hook-up and 83 minutes later, they boated the first blue for the Bermuda Billfish Blast tournament. That impressive marlin weighed in at 556-pounds and was one of only two boated fish in the World Cup and Billfish Blast.
Then came the call from Captain Peter Olander of the Queen of Hearts with a hook up at 1:38 p.m. that had everybody on the edge of their seat when a comment from a nearby boat came across the VHF – “that sure was a big splash”. Queen of Hearts has a history of catching the big ones – including a previous World Cup winner in 2007. After a 93-minute battle, angler Glen Astwood finally brought the gladiator to boat side, securing their 768-pound blue that would take the daily marlin jackpots worth $89,100 in the Billfish Blast and win the World Cup for the second time in five years for Queen of Hearts! This is the seventh win for Bermuda in the World Cup.
Day Two was Rum Bum‘s day to shine as the past Bermuda Billfish Champions registered 1400 points on the board releasing two whites and two blues, with angler Luis Bacardi putting in some work and besting each fish in short order. This launched Rum Bum into the lead and secured the second day Billfish Release Jackpots for $31,800, third place team worth $11,400 and top angler honors for Luis. Team_ Rum Bum_ also tagged each fish with Billfish Foundation tags. Total winnings for Rum Bum: $43,200.
Day Three’s fishing promised to be one for the record books. In the closest standings race in the history of the Billfish Blast it truly came down to the wire on the final day of fishing to determine who was to take the title. Paradise One hooked into a blue marlin that was released at 3:01 p.m., vaulting them to first place on the leader board at 1456 points, but Mattanza had a big run, releasing three whites and a blue on the day with the final release coming at 4:24 p.m., that earned them an extra 200 points and put Mattanza and captain Brooks Rans over the top for a score of 1500 points when the “lines out” call cracked the airwaves at 4:30 p.m. Six minutes and 44 points separated the winners and second place! Team Mattanza with first time tournament anglers and drag racing family Elliot, Evan, Ed & Eric Thompson final day earned them the Daily Billfish Release Jackpots worth $31,800 and First Place Team and another $39,900 or a total of $71,700.
In all, 24 blue marlin and 40 white marlin were caught with two blues being weighed in, a remarkable 97% release ratio.
The ladies were reelin’ em in as Top Female Angler awards were taken by Elaine Jones 700 points from a blue and a white on the Mama Who, second went to Paula Ringhaver on the Bree with 500 points and third was claimed by Jessica Street on the Margin Call with 200 points
Top Angler in the series was far and away Luis Bacardi with 1400 points on the Rum Bum, Glen Astwood took second place honors with 968 points on the_ Queen of Hearts_ and Mark Outerbridge on the Paradise One came in third with a respectable 900 points.
Final standings for the Billfish Blast and Bermuda Tournament Series going into the Big Game Classic:
Steve Goione Top Junior Angler: Jessica Street** on Margin Call
Ocean Blue Graphics Top Lady Angler: Elaine Jones 700-points on Mama Who with Capt. Ronnie Burbage, Mate Blue Morgan, teammates Robbie Davies and Joe Wegman
Argo Group Optional Daily Release Jackpots
King Sailfish Day One Level One, Garmin Day One Level 2 Release Jackpots Winner: Bree with two blues and a white, $31,800. Crew of Randy Ringhaver, Paula Ringhaver, Capt. Kyle Laine, Justin Laine, Brent Huffman, Scott Miller and Ian Fletcher.
CAT Engines Winner Take All Blue Marlin Jackpots Level One and Two: 768-pound blue caught by Glen Astwood, Captain Peter Olander, Walter Cross, Lovintz Cann, Kevin Walsh $89,100. World Cup Winner, Queen of Hearts.
PW Marina Third Place Team with 1400-points $11,400, Day Two Level 1&2 Release Jackpots $31,800 total winnings for Rum Bum
$42,300. The Bacardi High Point Angler with 1400-points from two blues and two whites is Luis Bacardi. Luis tagged all of his fish for the TBF. Captain Baxter Still, Shawn Albury, Andre Pepin, Jennifer Bacardi, Tommy Demas
Miles Market Second Place Team with 1456 points from one weighed blue of 556 pounds, one released blue and two whites is Paradise One, $22,800. Captain Allan Bean, mate Delvin Bean anglers John Layfield, Keith Pearman, Comell Bean, Kenneth Ford, Keith Smith and Mark Outerbridge.
Bermuda Department of Tourism First Place Team with 1500-points from five white releases and a blue marlin release, Mattanza. On the last day they caught three whites and a blue with the last white coming with only six minutes left in the tournament in Travis’s spot. Captain Brooks Rans, Mate Taylor Walsh, first time tournament anglers and drag racing family Elliot, Evan, Ed & Eric Thompson.
Total Winnings for Mattanza:
First Place $39,900,
Day Three Level 1&2 Release Jackpot $31,800,
Garmin Grand $1,000.
Vanmark Marlin Pendants.
Total Winnings $71,700.
Invitation to the Offshore World Championship