06 February 2009 | Ft Lauderdale, Fl
Thick cloud cover, cool 60*
Friday, February 06, 2009
Well we were going to take off today for Miami after our morning showers, but after going up top and feeling the wind chill, neither of us wanted to stand out at the helm - especially after seeing a thick cloud bank coming in off the eastern seaboard. So, we decided to stay put. I'm not sure what it would be like; going into Miami during the weekend, with cruise ships and weekenders, so we may be here for the weekend. We'll see how weather and conditions go... We noticed that whenever we seem to travel on the ICW, during the weekends, it tends to be a bit congested with the weekend fishermen. This weekend, with the 44th annual Billfish Tournament going on, it as all the makings of a busy trip between here and Miami - So... we'll see - but for today - Ft. Lauderdale is home again.
By the way - billfish include sailfish, spearfish, marlin, and swordfish (there are differences). Their large, beautiful bodies are built for endurance and speed, which are needed to travel thousands of miles through the ocean in search of food. Because they're so sought after by sportsmen, as well as a food source in other countries, the populations have dwindled over the years. I'd love to see some in their natural environment and hope someday that I will. Learning about the tournaments that go on up and down the eastern seaboard, gives me hope that I might! I chatted with one of the guys in the marina about the tournament (headquartered here at the Las Olas Marina) and it sounds like they catch them (using those O hooks Diana told me about during Christmas instead of J hooks), tag them, weigh them, and then let them go - they no longer bring the fish into the marina. I find this a much better practice than the days of yore - where they had to bring them in and bodily weigh them, etc... Since they were needed as proof of the fisherman's prowess, caught fish were never returned alive. Some of these fish can take 5 - 10 years to reach maturity (for instance the Blue Marlin*) so - such practices were devastating to the billfish populations. Now, when one is caught, the process must be recorded to a DVD - including the release of the billfish safely back to the water. If its not recorded, or the fish is damaged/killed, no points are issued to the sportsman. Since there's big bucks involved with the tournament (prizes up to $300,000 for the whole series), it's in their best interest to return the fish unharmed. All billfish caught during the tournament must be returned to the ocean or the boat is disqualified. Since they also pay a hefty fee to enter ($1750), most are serious about returning the fish from whence they caught them.
*Billfish are found in all of the world's major oceans. Blue Marlin is one of the largest billfish species. They've been known to reach sizes of 1700 pounds - with the larger individuals (those over 350 pounds) most likely to be female. The Atlantic blue marlin grows rapidly during the first two years life but it typically takes 30 years for one to reach 1,000 pounds. These billfish can make incredibly long journeys through the seas - the record being 9,254 miles from the state of Delaware to Mauritius (an island off the southeast coast of Africa) in the Indian Ocean. Taken from: http://www.billfish.org/new/billfish.asp?page=Billfish%20Species for more info on the various species - click on the link provided.