SADSAA COLUMBIA BILLFISH CLASSIC 2011
The third All Release Billfish Classic hosted by SADSAA was staged at Richards Bay from 2nd to 5th March 2011. In spite of the current economic climate and indications that there would be a low entry, 77 boats entered the competition, only 5 less than in 2010.
Zululand had been experiencing a bumper Marlin season over the previous months so everyone was looking forward to a good week; there was certainly no shortage of expertise or equipment, some of the finest boats in the country and most of the top Marlin anglers were about to pit their wits against the big ones.
Registration went of smoothly on Tuesday afternoon, followed by the briefing and then a bit of socialising and some fantastic food provided by the ladies of Richards Bay Ski-Boat Club.
On Wednesday morning, after an exciting mass start, the boats headed off into the deeps. The North East wind was already blowing and by mid morning it really picked up so many of the smaller boats started to head home. The marlin came on the bite early however; by 11.30 seven Marlin and three Sailfish had been released. Of the boats that stayed out and braved the upside down sea only LI-HANN and Tycoon were rewarded with a Marlin each at around 14.30. In total 9 Marlin and 3 Sails were released on day 1.
On Thursday the wind had calmed early on and in spite of the weather forecast it looked as if the guys were going to get in a full days fishing. This proved to be correct and in fact 6 of the 9 marlin released that day were caught after midday. One Sailfish and 4 Shortbill were also released on Day 2. EFFERVESCENT now headed the leader board having released a Marlin on Day 1 and 2 Marlin on Day 2, followed by TRINITY with 2 Marlin.
On Thursday evening the Richards Bay ladies again laid on a fantastic meal which brought everyone together to share their stories of the “ones that got away”.
Friday the weather was fine, not too much wind so all the boats were able to launch and enjoy a full days fishing. 15 Marlin were released on Day 3, spread throughout the day with the first fish being released at 07H11 and the last at 16H25. TYCOON and DELECIAS now joined EFFERVESCENT at the top of the leader board with 3 Marlin while several other boats were now sitting with 2 releases. Now it was all down to who would release his 4th or maybe 5th fish first on Day 5, the game was on.
Saturday was a glorious day, hot and humid, perfect conditions for Marlin fishing, again the whole fleet headed out to try their luck. LUDOLF managed to release 2 Marlin to bring their total up to 4 releases, SEADUCER found a marlin to bring his total up to three releases but the star of the day was TYCOON, who released two Marlin to bring his total to five = 500 points.
A very happy Tukkie Fourie led his team into the prize giving tent on Saturday evening, a very deserving winner of the R100,000 prize after a hard fought week.
2nd Place prize of R50,000 went to LUDOLF with 400 points and 3rd of R30,000 to EFFERVESCENT with 300 points. Prizes were awarded right down to 13th place as well as several “spot” prizes and lucky draws thanks to the generosity of the sponsors.
The President Marius Vermaak thanked the sponsors and in particular the anglers for making it such a fantastic week and upholding the ethic of full release.
The 2012 Billfish Classic will be held immediately before the World Trolling Championships at Richards Bay during the last two weeks of February. We hope to see everyone there again next year.