Anglers around the Gulf of the Caribbean eagerly await the first day of the Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament [CIIFT]. Now in its 23rd year — and with hundreds of thousands of dollars and prizes to be won — it is one of the region’s most anticipated fishing events. Competitors test their skills over four days to lure and hook yellowfin tuna, dolphin (also known as mahi-mahi), wahoo and billfish with hopes that their catch is record setting.
There are several tournaments leading up to the CIIFT that build excitement. These include The BK Big Fish 2020 March 6-8, Cayman Swordfish Challenge March 27-28, and Kirk Slam April 18-19. Joshua Ebanks, vice president of the Cayman Angling Association, says, “The CIIFT has been promoting sportfishing for over 22 years. We offer the widest range of prizes and the largest cash payout for all to enjoy.”
Stephen Ebanks, owner of Reel Vibes Charters, has been fishing competitively since age 11 and humbly shares advice. “Some of the common areas where tournament competitors fish are 12 Mile Bank and East End Bank. It all depends on where the fish have been hanging out before the tournament starts.”
Ebanks coaches those new to the sport that “some days are fishing days, and some days are catching days. Just keep at it.” Ebanks warmly invites all who would like to get their reels wet to book a trip on Reel Vibes Charters. They cast lines 2 to 12 miles offshore, where they commonly catch mahi-mahi, tuna and wahoo, a perfect warm-up for the CIIFT.
Entering the Tournament
There are two ways to enter CIIFT. The first is to enter your boat with up to four anglers. Note that there is a registration fee. The second option, if you do not own your own boat, is to join a crew. Joshua Ebanks suggests that some charter companies are also available for hire during tournaments. Good luck anglers, and see you at the weigh-in!
Author: Stacie Sybersma