Off the hookAnnual fishing tourney reels them in
Approximately 85 boats entered the already-crowded New Harbor earlier this week, on Aug. 5 and 6, to take part in the coveted annual Tri-State Canyon Shootout. The cobalt water was barely visible beneath the sea of white vessels, and the wooden pier around the Boat Basin could scarcely be seen, what with the hoards of onlookers and the fish strewn about the landing platform.
The captains and crews of the boats came from Montauk to Old Saybrook on boats with diverse names like Tiger Shark, Jolly Mon and Pension Plan. They were looking to get lucky and win big bucks for their catches, which included everything from a 150-plus pound swordfish to the smallest of the green and yellow creatures called wahoos.
The entry fee for the two-day tournament is a cool $2,500, but the grand prize is $200,000 and, according to the event site, more than $500,000 was shelled out in prize money last summer. There are seven main categories and, of course, the biggest fish wins. The heaviest big eye tuna, albacore, yellow fin tuna, swordfish, wahoo, mahi took home first place, as did the heaviest “Tri-Fishecta,” the combined weight of yellow fin, albacore and mahi.
Kerry and Deb Downton, along with their son, Kyle and his wife, Katie, manage the tournament, which has been organized for the last 13 years by J&B Tackle of Niantic, Conn.
“The island’s been really great to us,” Deb Downton said.
According to J&B’s website, “The Tri-State Canyon Shootout is considered one of the Northeast premier tournaments is the standard for which all Tri-State events are measured. All events hosted by Tri-State Tournaments are designed to combine camaraderie in fishing along with serious sportsmanship, as well as family fun. We are fortunate to bring together one of the largest sport fishing fleets in the northeast with some of the biggest names in the fishing industry to create a contagious atmosphere of fishing and fun.”
Dock attendant Andrew Costello said that there were fewer and smaller fish than anticipated, and that the single temperature gradient of the fishing areas didn’t help the matter.
Still, “fishing and fun” were certainly both present, as old friends ribbed one another over tiny catches and cheered for the winners, all while taking swigs of beer. Families looked on from their boats, and curious kayakers paddled in to take a look at the weighing station.
In the end, the Tami Ann took the prize for big eye tuna (278.5 pounds), the Blue Eyes for albacore (61.5 pounds) and the “Tri-Fishecta (123.5),” the Bella Donna for yellow fin tuna (86.5 pounds), the White Water for swordfish (146 pounds), the Jolly Mon for wahoo (64 pounds), and the Pension Plan for mahi(20 pounds).
It was clear, though, that there were not truly any losers. Everyone seemed to have a great time, soaking in the sun and engaging in some friendly competition.