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Gone fishin' the hard way

IT'S ALMOST the anti-Port Antonio Marlin Tournament. While the neighbouring parish's premium fishing event trots out state-of-the-art equipment in a high-priced flotilla, the Magnum Tonic Wine Oracabessa Marlin Fishing Tournament in St. Mary takes a minimalist approach to the sport.

For one day each year, the hardy fishermen and women of the northern parish take to the sea in search of pointy-ended fish in an exhibition of how it was and still is done by many fisherfolk around the island.

This year's tournament fleet took to the seas at 7:00 a.m. on October 10. The 50-odd boats were colourful pictures of simplicity and their crews had the most rudimentary of fishing gear at their disposal.

As the boats launched, those left ashore had plenty to amuse themselves as the non-profit, community-based event, which is now in its 10th year, also featured competitions including 'Reel in the Marlin', 'Precision Casting' and 'Team Boat Landing' to simulate various facets of game fishing.

Fun for the kids

For youngsters there was also face- painting, a bounce-about, trampoline and the St. Mary BMX stunt bicycling jam to keep them occupied.

After a full day at sea, the boats were back ashore by 5:00 p.m. to complete the weigh-ins for a range of prizes awarded for biggest marlin, biggest non-billfish, most weight total catch, most courageous fisherman and best fisherwoman.

This year's star was undoubtedly Raymond Campbell, aboard Sun Fish, who fought seven hours to land a massive 490-pound marlin.

That was virtually on par with a 500-pounder hauled in a few days later at the Port Antonio event - ironically, not by a big boat but in the popular canoe event.

The fun didn't stop after the final fish was weighed as fishermen and spectators were then treated to an 'After Fish Jam'. This year's 'vibes' were provided by Teflon Sound.

The whole day is organised by the St. Mary Fishermen's Co-Operative, the Oracabessa Foundation and Goldeneye Resort with four main aims:

# Create a wholesome, family-oriented community day

# Promote environmental awareness

# Promote sustainable fishing practices

# Raise funds to purchase safety equipment