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Bimini is ‘sport fishing capital of the world’

Guy Harvey and his partners in Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts Ltd. recently officially announced plans to host the Billfish Invitational at the Bimini Big Game Club, on May 18, 2011. Net proceeds from the all release event will be administered by the Big Game Club for the direct benefit of conservation and education programs to be implemented in Bimini right here in The Bahamas, at the direction of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the International Game Fish Association(IGFA).

Host to numerous major sport fishing tournaments for more than half of a century, the Billfish Invitational marks the Big Game Club’s return to world-class bluewater tournament angling, after a decade long hiatus.

“With the Billfish Invitational, we’re not only restoring the club’s legacy of great tournaments, good times and camaraderie, but also establishing a new tradition of using tournament proceeds to directly benefit our friends in Bimini who make this a special place,”commented Mark Ellert, president of Guy Harvey Outpost, Ltd.

“The founders of Guy Harvey Outpost, Ltd. consider ourselves stewards of history and tradition of both Bimini and the legendary Big Game Club,”said Dr. Harvey, who with partners Bill Shedd, Charles Forman and Mark Ellert, supervised the re-opening of the Big Game Club after a multi-million dollar renovation.

The tournament will feature three days of fishing, and target all billfish species. In addition to individual prizes, the tournament format will include the awarding of two perpetual trophies, to be displayed in the club’s new trophy room lounge. One trophy is named for two giants among a long line of legendary Bimini personalities-Ernest Hemingway and Michael Lerner-and the second trophy honors personal achievement in the advancement of Big Game Sport Fishing with the establishment of the Frank Johnson Trophy.

The Hemingway-Lerner trophy will be presented to the tournament’s top Billfish team, recognizing friendship, teamwork, and the pursuit of excellence, while Frank Johnson himself will be the inaugural recipient of the Frank Johnson trophy.

“Sport fishing is both a team and individual sport, one that owes much of its modern day popularity to the passion, perseverance and friendship of men like Ernest Hemingway and Michael Lerner, which gave birth to the International Game Fish Association, and the advancements brought to the sport by men like Frank Johnson,”Bill Shedd added.

Bimini’s location along the legendary Gulfstream location is at the apex of a superhighway for migrating fish and acts as a kind of sushi conveyor belt carrying abundant food to the local fish. Deepwater game fish include marlin, tuna, sailfish, wahoo and swordfish, while big grouper, barracuda and schools of snapper can be found on the reefs. Bimini’s flats are home to the fishermen’s favorite prey, bonefish and permit. With more than 50 record-setting catches in the waters around the island, Bimini has earned its title as the’Sport Fishing Capital of the World’.

Eligible species for the Billfish Tournament include Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Sailfish, Spearfish and Swordfish. The Fun Fish Division will include species such as Dolphin, Wahoo and Tuna(Yellowfin and Blackfin). Administered by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the IGFA, tournament proceeds will be re-invested in Bimini and surrounding waters. Among the programs to be supported are: Satellite telemetry tagging to study migratory patterns of local billfish populations, marine science curriculum and field study programs within the local Bimini schools, with curriculum to be developed jointly by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, IGFA and Nova Southeastern University/Guy Harvey Research Institute, and creation of an artificial reef system offshore of North Bimini.

The tournament itself will take place May 18-22, and the fishing days will be May 19, 20, and 21. It will be based at the Bimini Big Game Club, and all participating boats must be registered at the club for the duration of the tournament.

All participating anglers must possess the necessary licenses and permits. All boats must abide by all local and international laws. Prizes will be awarded for first, second, and third place(Billfish Team), first, second, and third place(Billfish Angler), first Blue Marlin, last Blue Marlin, Top Lady Angler, largest Dolphin, largest Wahoo, largest Tuna, first, second, and third place(Fun Fish Division Team), and for the Most Unusual Catch/Release.

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