September is typically a quiet time of year for Roatan, with summer at an end and many tourists back at work or in school. The island sits in a lull, with even the wind slowing down to a snail's crawl. But every September for one long weekend over Honduran Independence Day, the main road in West End transforms from a sleepy beach road into a bustling festival with loads of vendors, live music and throngs of visitor for Roatan's Annual International Fishing Tournament.
Roatan has a strong reputation as a world famous diving destination, but did you know that we're also known for our world class fishing? For the local people of Roatan, fishing is still a huge source of their livelihood and enjoyment, and many a visitors come to our island to learn from some of the best in deep sea fishing.
From September 15th to 18th, Roatan will host the XVIII (18th!) International Fishing Tournament. Each year the size and popularity of this tournament grows and grows, and people come from all over to participate in this island wide event.
How the Tournament Works
The Tournament consists of two divisions, the Billfish and the Rodeo Division. The Billfish Division awards points on the Catch & Release of: Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish and Spearfish. While capturing and killing Billfish is illegal in Honduras, this tournament focuses on the safe Catch & Release of Billfish and even awards bonus points for clean hook removals. Boats competing in the Tournament must have video evidence of their catch and release along with that day's flag displayed on the deck.
For the Rodeo Division you are allowed to catch what you keep of the following types of fish: Wahoo, Dolphin (Mahi Mahi), Tuna and Kingfish. Points are only awarded if the fish is 20 lbs or greater. This places the focus on adult sized fish who have already reproduced rather than fishing out smaller juvenile fish who have not yet had a chance to do so. Last year, our boat captains Victor and Kevin, along with one of the owners of Roatan Divers, Karl all participate in the Rodeo Division. We love enjoying some fresh caught tuna, but also believe in enjoying seafood responsibly and eating the types of fish that can be sustainably caught. We encourage visitors to Roatan to learn more about The Bay Islands Responsible Guide to Seafood so they can enjoy our tasty seafood, guilt-free!
Roatan Lionfish Derby
The Roatan Marine Park (RMP) continues to work with the local fisherman of Roatan to educate and encourage sustainable fishing practices, and one great example of that is this year's Lionfish Derby! To kickoff the fishing tournament, the RMP held a Derby where there were prizes for most lionfish caught and biggest catch. You were allowed to hunt in teams of 4 and all entrants were required to have their own Bay Islands Fishing License. To learn more about obtaining a license to hunt lionfish, go here.
We're happy to announce that the winner of this year's Lionfish Derby was Team Tobri with 169 lionfish in a single day! Tobri Divers Resort is our sister dive shop on the south side of the island, which is a prime location for loads of these pesky invasive species. The proceeds from the derby go back to support the Roatan Marine Park, and we also heard this year's Fishing Tournament will be serving up plenty of tasty, lionfish to eat as ceviche, tacos, or even "wings"!
Here are 5 Delicious Ways to Eat Lionfish.
So if you're thinking of taking a trip to Roatan, considering doing it in September during the International Fishing Tournament! Take part in the hustle and bustle of West End, in the excitement of watching the fishing vessels head out of Half Moon Bay in the early mornings and in support of responsible fishing on an international scale. The tournament weekend will end with fireworks and a big party for all the participants, so there's never a better time to experience Roatan's fun festival atmosphere. The weather is hot, the beer is cold and the people are friendly, so don't waste another day and come on down to Roatan!