Marlin Ladies Team Competes in Grand Caribe Deep Sea Classic 

The seventh-annual tournament attracts anglers from around the world

The Grand Caribe Deep Sea Classic celebrated its seventh anniversary this year, kicking off on Thursday, June 29, with its captains’ meeting and kickoff party. The official boat count came to 40, and the energy of Belize’s largest tournament to date was unmatched. Our team had the honor of representing Marlin, and the locals immediately welcomed us into their friendly competition.

Grand Caribe poolside
Grand Caribe poolside Madison Hazlett

It was evident that this is a tournament they look forward to every year. Amy, of the Grand Caribe tournament team, told us that she had wanted an all-ladies team to compete for years, and we were more than happy to be the first. We enjoyed the company and the cuisine, which was catered by Rain, and after the rules were read, it was time to prepare to fish.  

Deep Sea Classic Poster
Deep Sea Classic Poster Grand Caribe Deep Sea Classic

Tournament rules state that teams must be present prior to 6:00 a.m. at tournament base, so at 5:45 the next morning, we started Day One of fishing and could officially put lines in after 6:00. The trip out past the reef was quick, and within minutes, we were fishing a spread consisting of mostly lures or skirted ballyhoo.

woman deep sea fishing for marlin.
”Marlin On!” Madison Hazlett

We began the morning in hopes of snagging a meat fish such as a dolphin or wahoo, but when the shotgun started screaming, it was a sailfish that started the action. I quickly jumped in and scored the release in a couple of minutes. Before we knew it, we had just released the first billfish of the tournament.  

Women with a marlin boatside.
Maddy’s marlin. Madison Hazlett

The remainder of the day was slow for us but action-packed for others as reports of tuna and dolphin came in steadily. Later in the day, we even saw what we estimated to be a 50-plus-pound dorado and a blue marlin—which we couldn’t get the interest of—under a pack of frigates. After trolling around the birds for about an hour, the captain called lines out for the day, and we headed in. The ride in was exquisite as we watched a cotton-candy sky come across us, and we all felt hopeful for the next day.  

The morning of Day Two proved to be just as successful for us. At the time, we didn’t know that the rainbow we were driving toward was holding a blue marlin in place of a pot of gold, but it was. Within five minutes of setting out, after a passing rainstorm, the right long was bit. Angler Maddy Hazlett made pretty work of a feisty blue in 22 minutes, and at the time, we moved up into the lead. 

We continued trolling toward the south, with plans to run back to where we saw the dolphin and blue marlin the day before if nothing happened. It was right as we pulled the lines in to make a run that we saw a free-jumping sailfish off our port side, and we put Bobby C into the wind to give trolling over the spot a try. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a bite out of the free-jumper, but it did make for some excitement; we were all anxious to see how we would hold up throughout the day.  

Women on a boat dock.
Great End to Day 2. Madison Hazlett

We did end up with another mystery billfish bite prior to lines out, but we were unable to keep it glued long enough to find out what species, and right about that time, another blue marlin release pushed us back into third place. At the time, we were still biting our nails and the sun was sliding down. It seemed like the action was just starting to pick up.

Lady Marlin team at awards ceremony.
3rd place Overall Marlin Ladies Team Madison Hazlett

However, luckily for us, the blues called it a day, and we were able to secure a third-place finish and Hazlett’s Top Lady Angler award. Boss Gyal claimed the official victory, and a total of eight billfish were released throughout the two-day tournament, including one by angler Viktor Hluben of Landshark Outdoors.  

Maddy Hazlett accepting Top Lady Angler award.
Top Lady Angler: Maddy Hazlett Madison Hazlett

While we had incredible luck in the tournament itself, the Grand Caribe’s team put on events each night as well that are worth an honorable mention for those interested in more than just the fishing.

Grand Caribe trophies.
A Trophy Experience Madison Hazlett,

Events included Friday night’s “chat and chill” event, a beach party on Saturday and the awards ceremony Sunday, which was followed by the afterparty hosted at Sundowners, the pool bar located at Sunset Caribe. We enjoyed the events and look forward to seeing the tournament continue to grow in years to come.  

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