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2001 Day 1

Hamilton, Bermuda
Friday - 11 AM Atlantic Daylight Time

Capt. Omie Tillett, famous for his blessing of the fleet prayers each morning for years at Oregon Inlet on North Carolina's Outer Banks, did the same for the fleet here in Bermuda at the start of the Inaugural Bermuda Big Game Classic. Tillet, "somewhere-in-his-70s," rode all 700 miles over from Oregon Inlet aboard Concubine, a 70-foot Hatteras.

At 11:00 this morning, one boat had hooked up to a blue marlin and engaged in battle. By 11:25, angler Craig MacIntyre aboard the Davis 38, Chaos, had proven his mettle by bringing the 400-plus pound blue alongside to be tagged and released.

This morning's conditions represent a slight improvement over those of earlier in the week. Southwest winds to 35 knots on Tuesday generated seas out on the banks reaching to 10 to 12 feet. Today, 15- to 20-knot breezes have allowed those seas to diminish to 4 to 6 feet.

A late arrival in the registration process boosted the potential prize winnings to a grand $87,500, making this the richest fishing tournaments in Bermudian history in its first year. It will only get bigger from here.

Look for an update on other fishing results this afternoon at 5 PM EDT .

Hamilton, Bermuda
4 PM Atlantic Daylight Time

The marlin bite took its time developing today and the seas got a little nastier in the meantime. The smaller boats in the inaugural Bermuda Big Game Classic reported that conditions hit the "positively sporty" level.

Virtually all the boats headed southwest toward an area just a few miles from the shoreline called Short Course. All this week, that's where the marlin bite has been most active. Despite the 11 a.m. blue marlin catch by Craig MacIntyre, for most of the week the marlin bite hadn't really started before noon. That held true today as well.

At 12:06, Max Fantuz on In-Excess hooked into something that pulled plenty of drag off a 130-pound reel, but he never saw what it was before the spool stopped turning and the fish disappeared.

Chaos came back an hour later with another blue hookup -- this one much smaller than their first which estimated out to over 400 pounds. But the size doesn't matter when it comes to release points. Chaos's 100-pound blue marlin release earned the boat as many points as the 400-pounder.

Moments later, Capt. Russell Young aboard Sea Wolfe called in a hookup on a blue, only to have it spit the hook minutes later. In-Excess suffered the same fate in the next hour.

Tournament Control's radio sat silent until just before lines out at 4 p.m. ADT when the legendary Bermuda skipper Alan Card aboard Challenger called in a double hookup. Tune in later to hear how that turned out.

As of this report at 4 p.m., Chaos with Capt. Brooks Rans sits atop the leader board with 1,000 points. Fortunately, marlin fishing in Bermuda is good enough that this lead is far from insurmountable for the other 17 boats participating. In fact, the day before the tournament started, the Sport Fishing Magazine TV crew had two hours left to film and still needed blue marlin footage. They went offshore and in just two hours hooked four blue marlin, losing two, fighting one of close to 500 pounds for almost a half-hour before pulling the hook, and tagging and releasing a fourth. The last fish was estimated at about 250 pounds and supplied the team with all the footage they needed for an upcoming episode. It also provide Sport Fishing Magazine publisher, Glenn Hughes, with his first blue marlin release!

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