It has been two years of no big fishing tournaments for Grand Bahama. But thanks to Battleground Bahamas, which was started in 2020 by a group of avid fishermen, the battle is back.
Intended to showcase the experience of what it’s like to find the “big fish” while enjoying world-class offshore fishing in the islands, the second Battleground Fishing Tournament was held at Grand Bahama Yacht Club and Marina from June 9-11.
“We felt really good about the event,” said tournament organizer Alex Saunders.
“With this success, we can now look forward to it being bigger and better next year. We will advertise at the Florida boat shows as well as with boat companies in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.”
Though the event was postponed a week, due to Tropical Storm Alex, 11 boats entered the battlegrounds and winners were gauged on catching the three biggest tuna over three days. Competitors’ lines were in from 6 a.m. on the first day, and with good weather helping out, Saturday also proved to be good fishing.
Weigh-in was called for 6 p.m. and, at the end of tallying, this year’s winner was “Conchy Tonk” with 190.2 pounds of tuna; “OliviaRose” was very close behind with 183.8 pounds of tuna; and third place went to “Corkscrew” with 151.6 pounds of tuna.
Conchy Tonk also took the trophy for the biggest mahi dolphin and “Dey Salty” pulled in the biggest wahoo.
Junior Angler honors and trophy went to Peyton Long, a local female Bahamian, who fished with her dad, Aaron Long, of Long’s Marine.
Miranda Travieso on “Oliviarose” caught the biggest yellowfin tuna of the tournament, weighing 77.4 pounds.
“This was a well-organized event and we enjoyed the fishing,” said Travieso, who traveled from Florida for the event.
“It was disappointing when the event was postponed, but it was the smart call and this weekend has been spectacular, not just for fishing [but] for the great weather and Bahamian hospitality.”
This year’s tournament was also a charitable event with part proceeds to benefit the Bahamas Rotary’s Disaster Relief Fund and the Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Organization (BASRA). Hosted by Keva Lockhart and with entertainment by “Mango” and “The Island Boys”, the event was also a family fun day for many.
With so many children attending the event, local fisherman Brittany Baldwin, who is part of Reel Gals sportfishing team, partnered with International Game Fish Association and hosted the first Bahamas (IGFA) Kids Passport to Fishing Program.
“I was so excited to bring this program home to Grand Bahama and the first time outside of the USA, thanks to Pelagic Gear, our sponsor,” Baldwin said.
“We had a good number of participants, who were on hand with their parents, as well as 13 children from the Grand Bahama Children’s Home.”
The IGFA Kids Passport to Fishing Program teaches children the basic skills of knot tying and shows them examples of different types of tackle.
“Mainly, we also focus on conservation and stewardship, which is so important,” Baldwin said. “We also added into the program a bit about conchservation, too.”
For Baldwin, a mother of two, herself, spending time with the children from the home was the highlight of her weekend.
“Some of the kiddos we had to visit us from the home said they’d never fished with a rod and reel before but once they completed the clinic, they knew how to work the basics and they started catching fish off the dock right away,” she said.
The tournament ended with winner presentations and a raffle to help benefit the charities. Prizes included Sands beer, fishing gear and a motorcycle donated by Long’s Marine.
“The Grand Bahama Island Promotion Board was pleased to sponsor the Battleground Bahamas again,” said Ian Rolle, acting chairman of the board.
“As a part of the marketing strategy, we want to return Grand Bahama to its place of prominence in the boating, fishing and dive markets.
“The Battleground Bahamas Fishing Tournament organizers have done an exceptional job of planning this event, allowing the promotion board the necessary lead time to market this tournament to our South Florida boating market. The promotion board is looking forward to the 2023 event, which promises to be bigger and better.”