Billfish tourney to present Choate with achievement award

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. —Captain Ned Stone, Tournament Director for the 2012 Billfish Invitational, recently confirmed that the Bimini Big Game Club, a Guy Harvey Outpost Resort, will host the tournament from May 30 – June 2. At a special dinner event on May 31, renown conservation advocate and international sport fishing angler and entrepreneur Tim Choate will be presented with the Frank Johnson Trophy for Personal Achievement in the Advancement of Big Game Sport Fishing. The Billfish Invitational was launched last year to celebrate the re-opening of the legendary Bimini Big Game Club, now operating as a Guy Harvey Outpost Resort.

In announcing Choate’s selection, Guy Harvey, Chairman of Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts said: “Tim’s visionary and passionate commitment to billfish conservation and the operation of top-of-class sport fishing operations in Costa Rica, Guatemala and more recently Brazil and the Galapagos have pretty much shaped international recognition and respect of these countries for their robust conservation practices and dedication to healthy and sustainable recreational fisheries.”

Choate is a co-founder of the prestigious Billfish Foundation, an organization dedicated to billfish research and conservation and the promotion of circle hook fishing techniques.

“He has been and continues to be a driving force behind today’s worldwide Billfish conservation movement,” noted Harvey. “Every marlin angler today owes a debt of gratitude to Tim for his tireless work to protect billfish from irresponsible fishing practices.”

Commenting on his nomination, Choate noted: “The honor of receiving this perpetual trophy at the Bimini Big Game Club brings me full circle with my passion for marlin fishing and growing up in South Florida. I caught my first blue marlin here in Bimini in 1962.”

A big game fishing enthusiast by nature, Choate is angling to win the tournament outright.

“I have probably some 50,000 billfish catches to my name and those of our boats, but I’m leaving nothing to chance. I’ve got legendary charter captain Bouncer Smith and my daughter Stephanie as an angler. We fish together around the world, but winning this tournament in Bimini at the Big Game Club would be a truly memorable accomplishment for me and my family.”

The winning billfish team is presented the Hemingway-Lerner Trophy, a Kent Ullberg sculpture commissioned by the club to recognize, “friendship, teamwork and the pursuit of excellence.”

Both trophies are on permanent display at the Big Game Club. The tournament is a charity event that donates all net proceeds for the exclusive benefit of conservation and education programs in Bimini. The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation administers the funds in concert with the International Game Fish Association.

Choate has been an ardent angler since moving to Islamorada from New York City as a boy in the mid-1950s. His Florida Keys childhood fostered an enthusiasm for offshore fishing, particularly in Bimini and Cat Cay. While earning his law degree from the University of Miami in 1974, his 19-foot center console was a fixture at the Big Game Club. Choate gave up a successful Miami law practice in 1982 to form Artmarine, Inc. to pursue the sport fishing business and travel the world in pursuit of big game records. In 1984, he acquired Striker Aluminum Yachts and through the years his Artmarina subsidiary has managed numerous charter fishing operations and lodges throughout Central and South America, including Guatemala’s famed Fins ’N Feathers. Choate pioneered the use of socioeconomic studies by governments and conservation groups to validate the correlation of billfishing conservation and tourism. These efforts lead to the creation of the Billfish Foundation which he co-founded with the late Win Rockefeller and the establishment of the Presidential Challenge Conservation Series, Central America. He remains a tireless advocate of billfish conservation legislation both in the United States and worldwide.

As for the tournament, fishing days will be May 31, June 1, and June 2 on the front side of the full moon. Historically, this has been prime time to catch large (500-plus pound) blue marlin. The tournament will be based at the Bimini Big Game Club, a Guy Harvey Outpost, and all participating boats must be registered at the Club for the duration of the tournament.

The eligible species are: Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Sailfish, Spearfish and Swordfish. The Fun Fish Division will include Dolphin, Wahoo, Kingfish, Tuna (Yellowfin and Blackfin).

The Frank Johnson Trophy is awarded annually by Guy Harvey Outpost, Ltd. to that individual whose personal achievements have contributed to the advancement of international big game sport fishing. Celebrated sculptor Ed Pang cast the bronze marlin attacking a Moldcraft lure. The tournament looks forward to having Choate’s close friends and colleagues assembled to recognize and reminisce about his personal and professional accomplishments. The stories of this evening will be certain to make Hemingway proud. This trophy will remain on display at the club for generations of visiting anglers and guests to enjoy.

Kent Ullberg’ stainless steel sculpture embodies the spirit and passion of Ernest Hemingway and Michael Lerner, men who loved the adventure of Big Game Sport Fishing so much that they founded the International Game Fish Association to ensure its sporting integrity.  Established by Guy Harvey Outpost to celebrate big game sport fishing, friendship, teamwork, and the pursuit of excellence, this magnificent sculpture of a rising blue marlin will be awarded to the Top Billfish Team in recognition of their accomplishments. A number of other awards will be presented.

The Billfish Invitational is an all-release tournament. In the interest of conservation, Guy Harvey Outpost and the Tournament Committee ask that all inedible and undersized fish be released as quickly as possible. Should a participant have a mutilated fish or a non-target species that is otherwise unable to survive, the Bimini Shark Lab will be pleased to accept donations.

The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, in cooperation with the International Game Fish Association, is proud to announce that the net proceeds the Billfish Invitational will be invested in Bimini and surrounding waters. Among the programs to be supported are: satellite telemetry tagging to study migratory patterns of local billfish populations, marine science curriculum and field study programs within the local Bimini schools, with curriculum to be developed jointly by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, IGFA and Nova Southeastern University/Guy Harvey Research Institute, and creation of an artificial reef system offshore of North Bimini.

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