Red hot fishing and conservation combined for an epic first day of fishing at the Club Nautico de San Juan’s 60th International Billfish Tournament. The fleet of 48 boats, consisting of 175 anglers representing 9 countries, released 48 blue marlin in just a single day.
“We likely broke records today for the amount of fish released in one day in our tournament,” says Club Nautico de San Juan’s commodore, Gustavo Hermida, who fished aboard his 77’ Hatteras, Fish Hunter.
But the tournament focuses on more than just competition — conservation is also a key component.
Boats are awarded more points for releases on 30-pound-test line. Plus, as part of a partnership with National Geographic Society, boats are asked to deploy Crittercams. Crittercams are water- and pressure-proof systems that include recording equipment to capture images of blue marlin. The footage will be used to create a documentary on this sporty billfish.
Acapella is in first place with 785 points, followed by Bolita and Batichica in second and third, respectively, each with 690 points. The release of a blue marlin on 30-pound test earns anglers 325 points each while a blue released on 50-pound test counts for 230 points. Thirteen boats already have two or more releases.
Hermida’s Fish Hunter is one of the seven boats to release two blue marlin.
“We had our first bite around noon, but it pulled the hook,” Hermida explains. “Mid-afternoon, another fish came up on my line and I was able to release it. I released a second blue marlin less than an hour before lines out.”
Hermida caught and released his two blues on 50-pound test. However, given his marlin were in the 100- to 150-pound range, he may choose to fish with 30-pound test tomorrow. Teams must declare each morning whether they will fish with 30- or 50-pound-test line. The trend toward smaller blue marlin this time of year, the desire to attract international light tackle anglers, and strong commitment toward conservation led the organizing committee to encourage the use of 30-pound line.
Use of new satellite programs and Google Earth has allowed organizers to show tournament anglers this year where the potential fishing hot spots are located, as well as to give a clue to bites per day and per hour with a high degree of accuracy. Follow all the action by visiting their tournament website.