08 Mar 2013

Around 288 expectant anglers poured into Richards Bay for the start of the SADSAA Columbia Billfish Classic this year in the hopes of bagging among others, the R100 000 premier prize and Boating World’s Greg Alice was not going to miss the opportunity – even if it meant arriving late due to work commitments.

Somehow the thatched ‘lapa’ with a giant marquee attached seemed less crowded during registration thanks to the new undercover platform extensions providing welcome respite from the heat and more space in which to relax.

This was also the venue for the briefing on Tuesday evening (Feb 12th) and the daily meeting place for competitors after each hard day out at sea.

The mandatory massed start at sunrise on the first day saw the harbour buzzing with 66 boats all ready to speed off to start the all-important job of fishing.

Bumpy conditions with swells around 3m and fish that were simply not biting meant there were less hook-ups reported than usual in this tournament – though 17 Billfish did qualify - with Blue Marlin surprisingly proving to be the biggest. Overall there were 13 Blue and 3 Black Marlin tagged and released and one Sailfish.

Greg joined his team on his Riviera 40 and was able to get in a full day’s fishing (on Friday). To the great disappointment of all the anglers, the final day had to be cancelled when the south westerly wind brought driving rain and the sea turned on its head. Graham Morgan fishing on a Riviera 37 tagged and released a Black Marlin of around 150kg.

The main trophy, a R100 000 cash prize and an invitation to the 2014 IGFA Offshore World Championships to be held in Mexico went to team “Trinity” comprising Frans Janse van Rensburg, Jaco Janse van Rensburg, Jaco van Heerden and Koos Gouws.

And in the mood for more fishing, Greg went on to take part in the Durban Marlin Competition which started on Friday, February 22nd.  He hooked up with Riviera 37 owner Kim Labuschagne, his friend Grant and two sons Richard and Dave – who joined 23 other boats filled with enthusiastic competitors.

The party settled on fishing off the Ballito area north of Durban, catching lots of Yellowfin, Dorado and a Wahoo. While conditions were very good on the Friday, the westerly picked up the next day creating swells of around 2.5m.

Greg hooked a Black Marlin which unfortunately got away but he was not the only disappointed angler - no successful Marlin hook-ups were recorded at all during the competition. Two Sailfish were tagged and released.

Greg was delighted to catch two Yellowfin and a Dorado.