Fishing Notes

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New fishing regulations in the Bahamas

New regulations announced last fall by the Bahamas Department of Marine Resources restrict fishing for certain sportfish to tournaments.Species of game fish allow fishermen to keep up to 18 migratory sportfish such as kingfish, dolphin, tuna or Wahoo per vessel, an increase from the previous limit of six.

The department also increased the amount of scale fish allowed to be kept per vessel to 60 pounds — up from the previous limit of 20 pounds.

Billfish species such as marlin, sailfish and swordfish, meanwhile, can be kept by those who catch them as part of sanctioned sportfishing events or tournaments — such as the Bahamas Billfish Championship, which held its 34th annual tournament’s award ceremony at AbacoBeachResort & BoatHarbour earlier this year. Marine turtles enjoy complete protection under the new regulations, while up to six conch and 10 crawfish may be kept.

“We are thrilled with the new regulations,” said vice-president of Operations for AbacoBeachResort & BoatHarbour, John Neo. “They protect the Bahamas’ unique marine stock while also recognizing that many people come here to do some serious fishing. With the new, more generous limits on tuna, wahoo and the other more plentiful sportfish, they can really spend time out in the water reeling them in.”

Northern crew wins Islamorada tourney

Capt. Scott Stanczyk’s Catch 22 team released nine sailfish to win the three-day Islamorada Sailfish Tournament that ended Dec. 2. The tournament is the first of three angling challenges that make up the Florida Keys Gold Cup series.

Members of the Catch 22 team were David Spilman of Baltimore, Md., Jim Fakler of Landover, Md., and John Soltysiak and Tyson Mayers of Rehoboth Beach, Del.

“Our best day was Saturday,” Spilman said “We caught two fish within 15 minutes of lines out and took the lead.”

The Catch 22 team anxiously waited out the last 30 minutes of the tournament, finishing one release ahead of second-place boat XXX, skippered by J.C. Cleare of Miami, with anglers MaximilianTower and Ray Rodriguez of Miami plus Fulton Ivy of Key Largo.

“It’s a long 30 minutes when you only lead by one,” said Spilman. “They could have hooked up and we would be in second.”

Spilman released five sailfish and based on time, was named the tournament’s high-point angler.

Which Way, skippered by Captain Glenn Morgan of Miami, took third place. Robert Southard of Miami, Robert Southard Jr. and Brian Southard, both of Hollywood, Fla., and Brian Larosiere of Boca Raton, Fla., released seven sails.

Spilman and his teammates plan to return to the Keys for the other two tournaments in the Gold Cup series. The second and third competitions are the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament, set for Jan. 17-19 and the Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish Tournament, set for Jan. 23-24.

The Islamorada Sailfish Tournament drew 109 anglers aboard 34 boats. Anglers released 110 sailfish and tagged 10.

Youth breaks record in IFC Junior Derby

He came to Islamorada, he cast, he conquered. Josh Shevlin, 12, of Bay Harbor, Fla., was named master angler at the 2007 Islamorada Fishing Club Junior Derby. Shevlin set a record by accumulating 1,660 points — 200 more than any angler in the history of the derby.

Shevlin caught and released fish from 11 species including three tarpon, grouper, black drum and snook. He was guided by Capt. Jim Anson of Miami.

Other division grand champions were juniors (ages 11-14) Grier Wakefield of Wilmington, Del., in the unguided division and Sydney Wolaver of Fort Pierce, Fla., in the guided division.

Small fry champions (ages 7-10) were Marlin Wightman of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., in the unguided division and Jake Shevlin of BayHarbor in the guided division.

Super small fry champions (ages up to 6) were Konnor Ross of Tavernier, Fla., in the unguided division and Robbie Reckwerdt of Islamorada in the guided division.

Thirty-six anglers ages 2 to 14 participated in the tournament, fishing inshore and offshore. All fish were released as part of the Islamorada Fishing Club’s mission to promote conservation.

Four young anglers were honored for conservation leadership because more than 400 pounds of trash was retrieved from the water and shorelines. Conservation kudos went to 2006 tournament champion Heather Harkavy of Coral Springs, Fla., Madeline Malloggi of Key Largo, Fla., and Will and Jack Kelleher of Wilmington.

Fourth annual Offshore Classic returns

With a nationwide television audience, and motivation to support America’s veterans, the Outdoor Channel returns to Islamorada for its fourth annual Offshore Classic on Jan. 14-16.

The sailfish tournament provides an opportunity for outdoorsmen to help raise money for the Paralyzed Veterans of America Heritage Fund and catch fish alongside the organization’s members. Veterans from both Iraq wars are expected to participate.

The two days of catch-and-release sailfishing are to be filmed for television broadcast. The TV airdate has not been set.

Entry fee is $500 for a team of four anglers. Additional anglers can register for a team for $250 per person. A maximum of six anglers is allowed per team. The entry fee includes admission to all social events.

For more information and registration, contact tournament director Sue Vermillion at (808) 325-9896 or e-mail hdc@aloha.net .