by Katherine Renton
The crew of the “Elijah” trusted the instinct of their captain this past Monday and coaxed over 470 pounds of fish from the sea, hooking a heaviest catch title and $10,000.
Captain Randolph Medford, 39 years, is the Fisherman of the year 2019. He was joined by his two-member crew, Irvin ‘Caddy’ Stay, and Dawson ‘Nunsk’ Miller and the owner of the “Elijah” Malcolm “Fireman” Alexander on stage as they collected their prize for the heaviest catch in class one at the closing ceremony for the 44th annual Fisherman’s Day.
The four men must decide how best to divvy $10,000, one case of outboard oil, three life jackets and two cooler bags, and they must also determine who keeps the trophy. However, with the exception of the trophy, these prizes were not collected until this Wednesday.
Apart from the physical prizes, Medford of Sion Hill, Stay from Fancy, Miller of Barrouallie/Kingstown, and Alexander from Sandy Bay/Chateaubelair had also won the approval of the onlookers on the wharf who had gathered to observe the boats coming in. These persons had already loudly declared that the “Elijah” had the “catch of the day,” and got more and more excited as the minutes ticked by and the fish hold still wasn’t completely emptied of dolphin fish and crevalle.
“I’m glad to win,” Captain Medford stated succinctly but meaningfully during an interview with SEARCHLIGHT.
“We must feel good because to see that we came [first] mean something…as the biggest catch for the day so can’t complain,” crewman Miller commented.
“The last three weeks we was losing, we was losing, but the captain insist that okay we going,” Stay explained, telling their story of despair to victory. “Don’t worry the amount ah bird we see going up there every day and still we ain’t catching no fish some kinda tide have to dey up there,” the Fancy man stated recalling his Captain’s words.
He said that it was the same thing on Fisherman’s Day, but the Captain told them not to worry and “that was it.”
“We don’t give up,” Stay, 37 years concluded. “The captain don’t give up, he’s a guy always going going. Even though he have to burn the four tank [of gas] he will burn them just to catch fish,” he added.
Miller expressed similar sentiments noting, “it’s very hard out there.” However, he said, “we always keep going regardless to what happen.”
Miller and Stay noted that they were not told that the close off time was extended to 4:30pm, and if they knew they could have caught more fish.
The “Elijah” also bagged the title of “Largest Number of Fish” with 139 heads, to go with their “Heaviest Catch in Class One” title.
“Fireman,” the owner of the boat and a popular figure to those standing on the wharf that day, commented, “Being honest I’m very happy, I’m grateful for what the men did…have to get courage to go out there and with the strength of the almighty they did what they were supposed to do.”
Next year the fishermen plan to compete again, “Exactly. We still in it,” stated Miller.
However, Miller later added a proviso that they would participate as long as the event is held in Kingstown.
The second heaviest catch in class one went to Andy McMillan and “Sea Shells” who pulled in 347.3lbs and won $5000 among other prizes. Third in this category went to Ray Anthony Clarke of Green Hill with 338.2lbs and fourth to Lamar Cordice of the “Hook fish” with 333.7lbs.
The “Heaviest Catch in Class Two” was taken by Julian Bradshaw of “Shark” who relieved the ocean of 169lbs of fish, and pocketed $4000. Captains Sohan Lucas, Stanley Bradshaw and Glenroy Grant took 2nd, 3rd and 4th spots.
The heaviest catch in the female competition went to Erla Matthews of Campden Park who received $500 among other prizes, for her catch weighing 31.51lbs. Matthews was followed by Tavia Richards from Barrouallie and third was snatched by Victoria Browne also of Barrouallie.
The heaviest catch in the junior competition was Randolph Bradshaw of Calliaqua with a weight of 17.2lbs.
Gibbs McDowald netted the heaviest catch in the beach seine competition with a weight of 1977lbs. Augustus Pierre came in second and Eli Slater bagged third in this category.
Osmond Browne from Barrouallie with 45 lbs got the heaviest catch in the row boat competition.
The heaviest single fish in class one was snagged by Rueben Bradshaw, Captain of the vessel “Flawless” with a fish weighing 40.8lb, and the heaviest single fish in class two was taken by Winston Hazelwood who used “Fish Finder” to hook an 18.5lb fish.
One hundred and ninety four heads was the largest number of fish caught in class two by Stanley Bradshaw of “Bounce Back.”
Remarks were delivered at the closing ceremony under the theme “Climate Change affects the ocean: fish responsibly to sustain the industry” by the Minister of Agriculture, and Fisheries; Saboto Caesar, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries; Raymond Ryan, the Chief Fisheries Officer; Jennifer Cruikshank-Howard, and the Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.