The Vanuatu Marlin Classic for 2009 has been run and won.
In near perfect conditions 11 teams fished their 3 chosen days from 7 days of competition. Each day started with a 7am shotgun start from the picturesque Port Vila Waterfront with vessels charging off to their favorite locations or chasing the bit at the previous days hot spots. Anglers come from near and far to compete in this prestigious competition. Regulars like John Robinson from New Zealand and Paul Mason from Los Angeles, California were competing with other international and local teams for the 600,000Vt first prize and a berth at the World I.G.F.A tournament at Cabo San Lucas.
New Zealand operators currently based in Vanuatu, Ultimate Lady got their first tag into a blue marlin early Sunday morning to set the passé.
Over the 7 days there was 81 strikes, 56 hookups and twelve marlin tagged. One marlin was presented at the weigh station for the week that the crew on Ultimate Lady suspected would exceed the Vanuatu blue marlin 15kg tackle record. The existing record had stood since 1993 which was held by Remy Frouin at 198.80Kg who was one of the pioneers of game fishing in Vanuatu. Their hunch was confirmed when the blue marlin tipped the scales at 220.8kg. The fish was caught by local angler Greg Colborne on day five.
Some of the other capture of note was 42.8kg sail fish on 15kg by Chris Lions fishing from Reel Capture. Ken Loche fishing on Shogun caught a 25.4kg on 15 and Shaun Winslow nailed a 16.2kg wahoo on Sheer Delight. The best mahi-mahi for the week was caught by Fred Timmick at 16.6kg also fishing from Sheer Delight.
The week was rounded up with a great dinner and presentation at the magnificent Waterfront Bar and Grill in the heart of Port Vila. The eventual winner was Ultimate Lady team B with Escapade coming second and Ultimate Lady A taking out third place.
Well done Ultimate Lady.
The week was absolutely fantastic with the best marlin action seen in Vanuatu for some time. The only negative I see in this competition is the ongoing rule that for any marlin tagged, on presentation of the tag card at weigh in the angler must present the double, wind-on leader and the lure, hook rig assembly. This is in spite of having an observer on each vessel that has measured and inspected each tackle set up before the commencement of fishing each day to make sure they are I.G.F.A compliant. This is absolutely ludicrous and I and a number of other skippers have voiced our opinion on this year after year stating that a fish or deck hand is going to get unnecessarily injured if this practice is continued. Well it happened this week with the skipper of Nakita receiving 4 broken ribs whilst trying to unhook a 200kg plus blue marlin that was still very green after a 2 hour battle on 50kg tackle. To be competitive in this tournament most operators chose to run 15kg setups and getting a tag into a blue marlin on this line class is very doable and in a lot of cases happens in a short amount of time however getting the fish to the boat to retrieve your hook and lure is a recipe for disaster. Another point for consideration is that when promoting a prestigious tournament such Vanuatu Marlin Classic the more tagged fish that can be advertised the better for the fishing destination. There were quite a lot of fish disqualified because they could not be released successfully and all tackle retained. To see the disappointment many anglers experience when a fish can’t be released cleanly is killing the spirit of the comp. This being the case for American angler Paul Mason fishing on Shogun in his 3rd Vanuatu Marlin Classic. Paul a senior angler that fishes all over the world had his hopes dashed when we were unable to release successfully a 160kg fish caught on 15kg after being successfully tagged in 20 minutes and this is but one of the similar stories. Come on organizers lets bring our rules in line with the rest of the world and we will have a tournament that is world class.