The 29th Bonaire International and Local Fishing Tournament, held January 26 to 28, 2017, attracted 29 participating teams from Bonaire, Aruba, Curacao and Venezuela this year. Teams use photos with specific identifier cards to verify releases; sailfish and white marlin are worth 150 points while blue marlin are valued at 300 points. Anyone breaking the Antillean record for blue marlin, 803 pounds, wins a new Ford truck as a grand prize as well.
And with the top three teams all tied at 900 points at the end of the event, it would come down to the time of last release to determine the winners. Bincho Mansur’s Aruba-based Naira team was crowned the winners based on their time, some two hours ahead of the second-place team. They had just one sailfish release on Day One but rebounded on Day Two, releasing three white marlin and two sailfish.
Paso Largo, despite fishing with just one angler on the first day and two anglers on the second, finished in the runner-up position. The Paso Largo team released two sailfish and a blue marlin on Day One, adding a white marlin and another sailfish on Day Two; Paso Largo is home-ported in Curacao.
Iliza, hosting the all-ladies Reel Teasers team from Aruba, was in third place until a last-second call from Tara bumped Iliza into fourth. Tara called in a white marlin hook-up with just one minute left in the tournament and managed to release their fish with only 14 minutes to spare in the event to slide headfirst into third place with a total of five sails and one white marlin in two days. Dean Hendricks on Le Grand Blue from Bonaire brought in a 96.8-pound yellowfin tuna to win the tuna award. For the tournament, there were 34 billfish releases.