PENN Challenge 2015. The blue marlin edition!
The weather must be off track. After several years the blue marlin fishing in Sao Vicente, Cape Verde in April is slow. Much slower than normal at this time of year. The water is a lot colder and in fact, green on San Pedro Bank on the lew side of the island. Marlin are scattered over San Antao, Sao Nicalau, the North West bank and the North.
Not ideal circumstances ahead of a 5 day competition out of Mindelo....
PENN Challenge 2015 Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde
36 participants, 13 team, 13 boats and crew, all fired up to go out and catch some of the famous Cape Verdien blue marlins in the 2015 edition of The PENN Challenge.
Blue tournament jackets all over the docks in the morning of the first day. Windy and cold. Most boats head out to the south west of San Antao. But not Eric Leblond, the skipper of Sirategui, Berno Niebuhr with the Happy Hookers or Cesar VeraCruz on Arleth. They decide to fish the north of the channel between San Antao and Sao Vicente and find marlin around. With lines in at 08:30, Happy Hooker I strikes two fish literally two minutes into the competition! All in all, the North option yields 6 out of 12, whilst the San Antao boats release 'just' 5 marlin....
Unsurprisingly, on the second day, every skipper opts to fish the north of the channel. The conditions not great again, with big waves and wind bringing some of our participants off balance. Nevertheless the marlin is there again. And whilst many marlins are sighted, and a lot get hooked, only eleven are released.
Again Sirategui catches two marlin, and Eric Leblond's main competition comes from Randy Das on Cal Rei Dos, the winner of the day and Ice Blue in third place.
On day 3, all boats again start on the Channel to be in time for the early bites. Before ten in the morning, six marlins have already been released - two of them on pitch rods. The Hoogduin Brothers pitch, hook and release both, taking them to the top of the leaderboard. Best boat today is Zak Conde's Amelia. Runner up is Cal Rei Dos. Third today is Giorgio Assolari on Big Jo.
The fourth tournament day turns out to be the lucky day for team 'The Untouchables', with Peter and Frans releasing three marlins including a 750+ lbs big blue. Stuart Simpson, Nha Cretcheu, also finds himself in the right spot at the right time. Bad luck hits Sirategui when 4 marlins strike at the same time, but only one 300lbs blue is caught and released.
Again all marlin are caught in the Channel under rough sea and windy conditions. 12 marlins released out of 27 hookups.
Number one boat today is Nha Cretcheu, directly followed by Marty Bates' La Onda Mila. Steve George's Sea Quest finishes third.
The overall winner of The PENN Challenge is determined by the best four days out of five'. The last day in the tournament therefore decides who wins this year's edition.
Six of the teams have a shot a the overall title as well as the title of the EFSA Netherlands Big Game Championship 2015. The EFSA Netherlands championship is part of The PENN Challenge and open to those teams whose members are also member of EFSA Netherlands.
The final day then, brings out the best in both men and marlin.
Overnight the wind has picked up, waves in the channel all showing white heads. Harsh conditions throughout the final day are predicted.
But it feels like the marlin have now definitely arrived in spades!
Team Les Grandes Pescadores fishing on Lionel Duffy 's Dimeu, manage to release four marlin by 2 PM!
The night before day 5 of the tournament, The Hoogduin Brothers have gone out and bought their own baitfish. They have taken their 30 lbs test gear on Berno Niebuhr's Happy Hooker 1 and again, they pitch at two marlins, hook them and release them. They miss out of another one on the pitch and still manage to catch it on the lures. Unfortunately the boat encounters engine failure and needs to return to port early, where it meets the Arleth who has had similar technical problems.
But even with only little over half a day of fishing for team Hoogduin,, the battle for first place is between them and Les Grandes Pescadores. If they catch one more marlin in the remaining hours of the afternoon, they will take home the title......
Today though, Lady Luck smiles upon the The Hoogduin Brothers. Dimeu misses the last marlin one a lure and gets 'just' four marlin out of six.
At the end of the day 24 marlin have been released and added to the scoreboard.
68 marlins caught out of more than one hundred! 12 wahoos and a couple of yellowfin tuna, made the tournament an awesome experience. You can't say there was no fish around....
So after doing all the math, The Hoogduin Brothers Fishing Team turn out winners of The PENN Challenge 2015! With four marlins caught on pitch rods and another three marlin on lures, Klaas and Hein Hoogduin score enough (bonus) points to claim the title. As EFSA members, they also claim the title of the EFSA Netherlands Big Game Champions 2015!
As a result, The PENN Challenge, a qualifying event to the OWC, the two brothers will defend the honors of The PENN Challenge at the Offshore World Championship 2016, April next year in probably Costa Rica....
Les Grandes Pescadores, Nico Visser and Ben Vermeer, with marlin caught on four out of five days, take second place. They also caught the most marlin in the tournament; 9 blue marlins.
Third place in the PENN Challenge is for team Untouchables, Peter Ouwendijk and Frans van Oss. Being EFSA members, they get the silver pin in the EFSA championship.
Third place in the EFSA Championship is for team Marlil, Martin Kets de Vries and Bob Hentenaar.
Team Mavericks, Huig Molenaar Sr., Ab Horsman and Andries Visser, finish fourth.
The most consistent team was team Skuumkoppe, the only team that manage to release marlin on all five tournament days.
Most marlin caught in the tournament by skipper Eric Leblond on Sirategui.
Best boat over all: La Onda Mila, skippered by Marty Bates
Second is Zak Conde's Amelia.
In third place, Happy Hooker 1 skippered by Mindelo's veteran skipper Berno Niebuhr.
Every day, teams were asked to award points to all boats, skippers and deckhands. The prize for the best deckhand goes to Callum Scott, mate at Stuart Simpson's Nha Cretcheu.
We like to express our sincere graditude to our sponsors PENN Reels Europe, Bonze Lures, HengelDiscount Gigant, Raven Hengelsport and Ahoy Hengelsport Rotterdam, for filling the prize table.
Special thanks also goes to Samir Rahal of The Terrou Bi Resort in Dakar, Senegal. Samir donated a week's stay at his hotel, which was auctioned on the final evening through a raffle for all participants and crews. The additional monies thus raised, 1.400 Euros, was handed over to ICCA Mindelo, the shelter for underprivileged children and teens. In total ICCA Mindelo received over 5.000 Euros in goods and cash, raised by the participants, crews and sponsors in the tournament.
Finally, we like to thank the Mindelo Sport Fishing Club for all their support in organizing this tournament, Dokas Bar & Restaurant for hosting us and last but not least, Thomas Eichenbaum of La Onda Desportiva Cabo Verde for being our local project manager, advisor and negotiator.
Mindelo! thank you for having us. See ya next year!
Overall results points
1. The Hoogduin Brothers 7540
2. Les Grandes Pescadores 7040
3. The Untouchables 5400
4. The Mavericks 4410
5. Team Marlil 4200
6. Sequoia Team 3820
7. Team Skuumkoppe 3700
8. The Fishing Dutchmen 3410
9. Team Hope Floats 3330
10. Team Hengeldiscount 2800
11. Team Zilt 2600
12. Penn Force One 2000
13. Trauma Team 1730
1. La Emma Onda Marty Bates
2. Amelia Zak Conde
3. Happy Hooker 1 Berno Niebuhr
4. Sirategui Eric Leblond
5. Cal Rei Dos Randy Das
6. Dimeu Lionel Duffy
7. La Onda Andromeda Olaf Grimkowski
8. Ice Blue Mark Smulders
9. Nha Cretcheu Stuart Simpson
10. Sea Quest Steve George
11. Arleth Cesar Vera-Cruz
12. Big Jo Giorgio Assolari
13. Happy Hooker 2 Miguel Gamito
Best Deckhand (top 4)
1. Callum Scott Nha Cretcheu
2. Dean Ford La Emma Onda
3. Chy Amelia
4. Tu Tu Sirategui