October 09, 2012

A Billfish Bonanza

Outrageous striped Marlin Bite Headlined May’s IGFA Offshore World Championship

If the bite for this year’s 14th annual Los Cabos Billfish Tournament is anything like that of the recent IGFA Offshore World Championship — contested here in late May — anglers will have plenty to celebrate come week’s end.

Fishermen from around the world enjoyed one of the best billfish bites the Offshore World Championship had ever seen in the 13 years the competition has been in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. After a blistering start, with 139 striped marlin releases on the first day, another 152 fish were released on day two. The third day of competition saw an additional 102 striped marlin released, as the total release count closed in on the magic number of 400.

But things changed on the final day. A spate of nasty weather moved into Los Cabos, making the seas nasty and causing the sea-surface temperature to plummet an incredible 4 degrees. As a result, the striped marlin bite basically shut down, for all intents and purposes.

The tournament record books likely would’ve been obliterated had it not been for the unfortunate weather — as it was, only eight striped marlin were released on the final day.

Still, it was enough to boost the final striped marlin release tally over the 400 mark. By day’s end, 401 releases had been recorded for the event. The 46 teams averaged an astounding 8.7 releases per boat, a new tourney record.

“it was an incredible week,” said Dan Jacobs, tournament director of both the iGFA Offshore World Championship and the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament. “When you have a great fleet of charter boats with seasoned crews and top-notch anglers, big things are going to happen.”

The Mexico-based team, IGFA Offshore  Champions, released a total of 37 striped marlin (11 on days one and two, followed by 15 on the third day) to earn 4,800 points and first-place-team honors. The second-place team went to the Masters Dolphins Fishermen squad from Spain, which registered 19 releases.

What sort of fishing awaits the 14th  Annual Los Cabos Billfish Tournament? Will the weather cooperate, and will the fish snap like they did this past May at the IGFA Offshore World Championship? We’ll just have to wait and see.

The Los Cabos region of Baja California  Sur has experienced incredible growth as a major north American tourist destination. From its roots as a small, quiet fisheries-based town, its worldclass striped marlin fishery and events like the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament have helped foster rapid growth. The Los Cabos region is a major provider of jobs and new dollars to the Mexican economy.

in 2007 and 2008, The Billfish Foundation  commissioned a comprehensive study with Southwick Associates and Firmus Consulting to estimate the dollars, jobs and tax revenues created by anglers in the Los Cabos region. A series of surveys were conducted of visitors — both anglers and nonanglers alike — and area business leaders to gain an understanding of the number of people who fish in Los Cabos and the dollars spent.

In 2007, an estimated 354,013 people  — most them international visitors — fished in Los Cabos. While there, they spent an estimated $1,785 each for lodging, charter boats, food, transportation, tackle, fuel and more. These expenditures created a series of economic effects that rippled through the local economy, creating:
■ $633.6 million in retail sales
■ 24,426 jobs
■ $245.5 million in local and federal tax revenues
■ $1.125 billion in total economic activity

Visitors who fish in Los Cabos are  estimated to provide 24.1 percent of the total dollars injected into the Los Cabos economy by tourism, including cruiseship visitors. every dollar spent by anglers generated $1.78 in economic activity.

Dollars spent in Los Cabos also make  their way to other parts of the economy, benefiting businesses and individuals throughout Mexico. it is estimated that the $633.6 million spent by Los Cabos anglers in 2007 added $652 million to Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product and 34,895 jobs throughout the country.

Amazingly, nearly 83 percent of the  anglers who targeted marlin in Los Cabos were successful in catching at least one marlin species. As such, 62 percent of Cabo anglers said they would return if they could take only one trip the following year. And while 88 percent said that they would be less likely to return if commercial billfish harvest increased, 85 percent said they would return if harvest was restricted or halted.

Conservation equals happy anglers and great economics. Cabo has both.