A strong day one showing allowed Team Waste Knot to hold off a charging Uno Mas crew.
Tucked in between legs one and two of the Bermuda Triple Crown, the Bermuda Billfish Release Cup hosted 11 teams for two days of tournament fishing on July 9 and 10. Anglers targeted marlin, yellowfin tuna and wahoo in marlin-release and game-fish categories, as well as optional jackpots.
Team Blank Check, captained by Danny Hearn, took the early lead on day one of the Release Cup, releasing two blues and one white marlin to score 1,200 points. Angler Kevin Gaylord caught all three billfish, with all the action taking place before early afternoon.
Team Waste Knot, riding high after a third-place finish at the 2018 Bermuda Billfish Blast, continued their hot streak. Junior angler Brennan Poole released the first blue marlin of the day at 10:06 a.m., junior angler Ruffin Poole released a white marlin at 12:41 p.m., and lady angler Chelsea Poole released a second blue marlin at 3:22 p.m.
As the fishing day was coming to a close, with Blank Check holding the top spot based on time, Capt. Pat "Pizza" Kannan, of Waste Knot, called in a last-minute blue marlin hookup. Lady angler Savanna Poole successfully released the blue marlin at 4:35 p.m. With the clutch catch from Poole, Waste Knot won the day-one release jackpot, totaling three blues and one white to take the lead with 1,700 points.
A number of other teams released blue marlin on the day. Flyer, captained by Bryce Garvey, totaled two blues for 1,000 points. Lady anglers Karen Woodbury and Tonya Axton caught the two marlin. Miss TJ, captained by Sloan Wakefield, earned 700 points from one blue and one white marlin caught by junior angler Ian Perez.
Just a Dog, Reel Steel and Uno Mas all earned 500 points from a single blue marlin release. Reel Steel stuck an IGFA Great Marlin Race satellite tag in their blue marlin before release, caught by junior angler Mark Verzaleno. Sean Gallagher, aboard Uno Mas, bagged a 103.7-pound yellowfin tuna to grab a stranglehold on the game-fish division.
Team Uno Mas, captained by Brooks Smith, won day two. Lady angler Maria Magalhaes released blue marlin at 11:23 a.m. and 1:09 p.m. to score 1,000 points and the day-two release jackpot. Team Flyer added to their point total when angler Kevin Jaffe released a blue marlin on the second day. The top teams on day one, Waste Knot and Blank Check, both struck out on day two.
IGFA tackle rules apply to the Bermuda Billfish Release Cup, but it was a different tournament rule that allowed many teams to put new or inexperienced anglers in the fighting chair. In the 2018 Bermuda Billfish Release Cup, anglers were allowed to pass the rod or receive assistance when fighting a fish.
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The 2018 Bermuda Billfish Release Cup is sponsored by the Bermuda Tourism Authority, West End Development Company (WEDCO), Royal Navy Dockyard, Pier 41 Dockyard Bermuda, Bone Fish Bar and Grille, CAT Marine, Gregory Poole CAT, Pantropic Power CAT, Foley CAT, Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel, Satcom Direct, Lucas Oil, Garmin Electronics, VanMark Jewelry, Bermuda Sloop Foundation, Fishing Tease, YETI, King Sailfish Mounts, Marine Artist Steve Goione, Spar Yard Marine Solutions, Hamilton Bermuda, Soundview Millworks and Bermuda Fun Golf.