Billfish Classic helping make Gulf Coast fishing capital

By Bert Hayes
Staff Writer
Posted 7/25/07

These fishing tournaments are not just anglers’ bragging rights. They’re happening every month or twice a month right here on the Gulf, and increasingly make the Alabama Coast the Recreational Fishing Capital of the World.

  That’s the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Subscribe to continue reading. Already a subscriber? Sign in

Get the gift of local news. All subscriptions 50% off for a limited time!

You can cancel anytime.
 

Please log in to continue

Log in

Billfish Classic helping make Gulf Coast fishing capital

Posted

These fishing tournaments are not just anglers’ bragging rights. They’re happening every month or twice a month right here on the Gulf, and increasingly make the Alabama Coast the Recreational Fishing Capital of the World.

  That’s the message that Bobbi Walker of the Orange Beach Fishing Association is trying to get across to the U.S. Congress, and the Red Snapper Tournament has raised some funds to help educate Congress.

  Now this Billfish Classic is worth a lot of attention. Billfish have their own foundation (TBF), non-profit, dedicated to conserving and enhancing billfish populations around the world. The Foundation concludes that over 90 percent of marlin mortality, for example, is the result of by-catch in commercial fishing outside the United States, even as the dolphin is threatened by purse seining on tuna in the eastern Pacific.

  Recreational fishing brings attention to the plight of the billfish, and hopefully tagging and releasing will become the norm.

  The OB Billfish Classic has its own special “lure.” Marlin magazines’ own Capt. Peter B. Wright, a world-renowned, has been lured into the Classic. Wright is also a scientist, journalist, consultant and advocate of circle hooks, tags and release. As a captain, he has fished waters world-wide, has won dozens of tournaments, and has guided numerous anglers to world records and in the process catching more “granders” than anyone.

  Wright is one of the inductees in the 2007 IGFA Hall of Fame. The 2007ers join enshrined members, including Ernest Hemingway, Zane Grey, Curt Gowdy, Ted Williams, Michael and Helen Lerner, Philip Wylie, Ray Scott and John Rybovich.

   With inductee Capt. Wright is Dr. Reuben Jaen, a legend in Venezuelan fishing. Jaen is not scheduled for Orange Beach, but he embodies the spirit of releasing the catch. A pioneer of light-tackle bill fishing in Venezuela, this cardiovascular surgeon introduced night-time sword fishing, and caught the first broadbill by this method in Caribbean waters.

   Furthermore Jaen has released more than 3,000 billfish, and was instrumental in protecting the famous La Guaira Bank (in Venezuela a broad underwater plateau rising to about 350-feet below the surface) from commercial fishing interests.

  And who makes the Billfish Classic possible? They are the World Billfish Classic,  Orange Beach, Marine Max, Bertram, Gulf Coast Hatteras, Hatteras-A higher level of boatbuilding, Galati Yachts, and Viking Yachts.