Celebrating 40 Years
By Capt. Skip Smith
Congratulations to the tournament series that set the standards for all others to follow.
In the beginning the tournaments were held in Bimini, Walkers Cay and Chub Cay. They all were the far away destinations that we all couldn’t wait to fish. Back then most boats were anything from a 31’ or 46’ Bertram to a 41’ or 46’ Hatteras. Those tournaments were held in the ‘top spots’ and the anglers, captains and crews that fished these tournaments are the legends we read about now. Then there are those with their names on the illustrious BBC trophy. So many great catches and so many great stories…
There were costume parties, appetizer challenges, clowns and beach parties in the middle of a fishing day. And then there was Dade Thornton taking photos and smoking that damn pipe. Looking back at Dade’s photos, they are priceless. Dade was doing something he loved and ended up capturing all of our memories for us. Then Dade left his job to Bailey Bobbitt, who continued to refresh our memories with his photos.
The rules were simple and we thought we could catch anything from sailfish and marlin to a giant tuna on an ‘80 wide’ loaded with 80 lb line. Boats would use lures for teasers and baits with J-hooks in them. We would miss way too many fish, backlash the reels and wear out the anglers, as most captains would let the anglers fight the fish from almost a dead boat.
In forty short years we have watched the yacht buying trend go from production boats to a variety of custom built sportfisherman. We’ve gone from slow trolled baits to high speed lures. And now to way too much bait on a dredge and a mixture of baits and lures being pitched or trolled. We have moved from an engine a captain could troubleshoot and fix to a computerized engine that can be analyzed by an expert from 1000 miles away. Back then, there was always the challenge of finding some decent fresh water to put in your tanks. Today we make our own fresh water from a watermaker.
But a few things have stayed the course. Bacardi rum, diesel fuel (not the prices), rough seas and all of ‘The big one that got away’ stories you would ever want to hear.
But the biggest credit goes to the Bahamas Billfish Championship itself who listened to their anglers and crews. They quit killing fish and decided to release fish. They initiated the ‘digital release’ and showed people around the world how to do this so they could follow suit. Thus demonstrating what true sportsmanship is with great conservation applied.
So congratulations on your 40th anniversary and thanks for showing us the way!
Tight Lines and Good Fishing!
Captain Skip Smith