The first annual Resorts World Bimini Wahoo Fishing Challenge attracted scores of anglers from the United States to the quant island of Bimini, Bahamas in search of glory.
The event was sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and in collaboration with Resorts World Bimini and the Bahamas Ocean Sports Authority.
Twenty-five boats registered for the tournament, which took place February 2 to 5 at the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini. The grand prize was $35,000.
Each day, anglers headed into the predawn waters of Bimini in search of the largest Wahoo.
On day one, team Who’s Your Daddy from Miami, Florida caught an 80.3-pound Wahoo.
Rudy Mantilla, captain of Who’s Your Daddy, said he’s being visiting Bimini since he was 13.
Rudy brought his family with him during the challenge.
“We’re excited to get some big fish,” he said at the start of the tournament. His two preteen sons accompanied him during his quest.
Bob, a member of the Bimini Twist team from Florida, said he was excited to be fishing in Bimini.
“I just love being in The Bahamas. The tournament was cool. Fishing was slow. We had some really excellent fishermen. It’s all good. A day fishing is better than a day working,” Bob said at the end of the challenge.
Resorts World was sold out for most of the tournament
Many of the anglers traveled to the resort with family and friends. While the men went out in search of Wahoo, their wives and children enjoyed the amenities at the resort or ventured into Bimini in search of fresh conch salad and a cold Kalik.
“The Wahoo Fishing Challenge was really fabulous. We set a goal of 30 boats. We didn’t quite get 30 boats, we got 25, but those 25 had a really great time catching really big fish. They were enjoying this hotel and this island,” said Donna Mackey, senior manager of sales in the Ministry of Tourism’s Florida office.
The event also boosted room nights for the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini too.
General Manager of Resorts World Bimini Vince Angelo said, “From an occupancy standpoint, it got us to a point where we just about sold out every night since Wednesday. It’s just been phenomenal. The impact has been great from that perspective not only for the rooms but also from all the restaurants that we have here and the things that they got to do. While the fishermen were out in the morning their family, supporters and friends were enjoying the beach and the island and getting to enjoy some of the culture here in Bimini.”
On Friday night, the anglers were treated to a night of culture at the Alice Town craft center where there was homemade Bahamian food and a youth junkanoo rush out.
And on Saturday night, the finale of the challenge, country music star Phil Vassar put on a free concert for guests and anglers at the resort.
Donna Mackey said this will be the first of many events planned for not only Bimini, but other islands in The Bahamas.
Mackey said she is now busy planning a powerboat tournament set to take place at Resorts World Bimini later this year.
“Tentatively the powerboat tournament is set for April 26 to 30 and it looks like it’s going to be a really great event. To this point we have about 35 to 40 boats that have already committed and our goal is to get about 100 powerboats here. Only 40 in tournament, but we think the others will come just to be a part of the weekend,” she said.
Donna said the team at the ministry are committed to sponsoring and putting on any water sports events in The Bahamas that will “help us to cause visitors to come to the islands of The Bahamas”.
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