The Camana Bay Crescent and Harbour were teeming with activity last month when more than 40 local and international teams competed for a potential prize pot totalling US$520,000 in the inaugural Cayman Billfish Rundown that took place 14 to 17 May.
Although the $250,000 prize for landing a local blue marlin record was not claimed, the four-day tournament paid out more than a quarter of a million dollars to competitors.
Camana Bay served as the official weigh station for the catches that weren’t released, bringing in a windfall of fresh fish for restaurants.
Eligible species for the tournament, which was co-sponsored by Hurley’s Media Ltd. in partnership with Dart and The Residences at Seafire, included billfish (blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish and swordfish), tuna, dolphin (mahi mahi) and wahoo.
The Cayman Billfish Rundown included a good representation of female anglers who were determined to give their male counterparts a run for the prize money.
Florida-born angler and social influencer Nicole Spenc came out as one of the top winners with her Third Place catch of a 29.8-pound wahoo.
Also participating was an all-female angler team coordinated by the tournament’s presenting sponsor, Dart. With a mix of seasoned and amateur female anglers, the team planned to donate any winnings to the tournament’s partnering charity, the Alex Panton Foundation — a mental health awareness organisation for youth.
Dart’s Executive Vice President Marketing Pilar Bush, an experienced angler herself, enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the tournament.
“The inaugural Cayman Billfish Rundown is an excellent addition to the Cayman Islands’ existing slate of fishing tournaments,” she said.
“Our all-female team caught a lot of seaweed and not much else, yet every afternoon as we returned to the harbour at Camana Bay, we were excited to catch up with the other anglers.”
Though their day at sea did not culminate in any catches, the ladies have high hopes of returning for next year’s tournament for another chance at what is anticipated to offer an even higher payout.
Weigh-in master Dayne Brady said he looks forward to the next year’s event as he believes that the Cayman Billfish Rundown is well on its way to becoming a well-recognised international sports fishing tournament.
“This year was a huge success, especially with it being the first round,” he said. “It required a lot of collaboration, which paid off, and the results set the building blocks for next year’s tournament.”
Brady said the intention for the tournament was to make it enjoyable for both participants and spectators.
“We are off to a great start and it can only get better as we look for creative ways to develop the tournament.”