FUJAIRAH // The big fish may have stubbornly resisted the bait yesterday, but the anglers will have the final say in this weekend's inaugural Fujairah Classic, according to tournament director Bruce Fennessy. "It was a pretty good first day," said Fennessy, who is overseeing the east coast emirate's sports fishing debut. "There are plenty of fish out there and maybe with a drop in the temperature of the water, we'll see some of the big fish come in from deeper waters to feed."
With a place in the 2010 International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world championships in Mexico serving as the Fujairah Classic's primary lure, Fennessy insisted the larger fish will nibble at some point. "We saw big dorado and tuna but they were down in the thermocline," he said. "The water temperature was around 31 degrees at the surface. If it drops off by just a couple of degrees we'll see those fish come up and start hitting the guys' lures," added Fennessy.
In the absence of eye-catching heavy landings, it was Team Bite Me - a Dibba-based trio of brothers Allan and Neville Stanton, and Allan's fiancee Summer Syed - who claimed opening day honours after hauling in an 8.5kg kingfish yesterday. The metre long catch, however, was nothing compared to the fish which got away. "We lost one - we had a nice fish for a while," said Allan, before Neville chimed in: "My brother got a little too much confidence and said 'let me get the points' and [the fish] came off."
Despite leading the tournament, neither Stanton expected yesterday's catch to secure them a world championships berth. "It'll be bettered," said Allan. "The fishing will get better as the tournament goes on; I think there's a couple of big kingfish ready to come out." The day's second biggest fish was reeled in by another local team, Team Dejager, who landed a 7.1kg yellowfin tuna. The four-man team, however, were also rueing what they missed.
"We had a big bull dorado that got away - I reckon that was a good 15kgs," said captain Mark Dejager, who operates a charter service out of Fujairah International Marine Club - the tournament venue. A trio of Finns complete Team Dejager, and one, Anders Olenburg, is predicting weightier catches during the Fujairah Classic's final two days. "It was fantastic fishing," said Oldenburg. "It was difficult to find the big fish, but I think we are well set for tomorrow."