Blue marlin certainly showed up in mass to celebrate Club Nautico de San Juan’s 60th International Billfish Tournament (IBT), fished Sept. 17 to 21. The fleet of 46 boats, with 176 anglers representing eight countries, released an incredible 145 blue marlin in four days of fishing.
“We had an excellent tournament and broke records this year,” said chairman Miguel Donato. “For example, this is the first year in the last 10 to 15 that one boat has released 10 blue marlin.”
Winning boat Bolita, a 74-foot Buddy Davis, owned by Puerto Rico’s Jaime Fullana, released the most fish: 10 blue marlin (2,775 points), and Fullana also won Top Angler, both local and overall, for his four releases (1,110 points). What’s more? Bolita team’s had eight releases on the third fishing day and earned Fullana the keys to a brand new Smart Car, courtesy of Garage Isla Verde.
“There isn’t anything better than winning this tournament,” said Fullana. “We released three blue marlin the first day and two the second. These we caught using 50-pound test line. Then for the last two days we fished with 30-pound test and released another five. There was only one fish we saw that we didn’t catch. I’d say our success was due to fishing the way we always do, catching just about everything we saw, and luck. It’s the first time I’ve won this tournament and I have fished it every year but one since 1965.”
Fullana also credited the use of new satellite programs and using ‘Google Earth’ which allowed organizers to show tournament anglers where are the potential fishing ‘hot spots’ with a high degree of accuracy. Dr. Ricky Jaen, who will be chairman of the 61st edition, is credited with introducing this technology.
The angling team aboard Bolita included Fullana, his nephew Antonio, Miguel Muñoz and international anglers Michael Kelly and famed marine artist, Carey Chen, both from the U.S., and Javier Pira from Guatemala.
The second and third top boats, Christina (2,275 points) and Anamarina (1,950 points), fished exclusively with 30-pound test line and released seven and six blue marlin, respectively. The release of a blue marlin on 30-pound test earned anglers 325 points each while a blue released on 50-pound test counted for 230 points.
In the angler rankings, after Fullana, Carlos Luis Rodriguez earned second place with 1,015 points and Juan Quintero finished third with 975 points.
Elias Ignacio Cruz (975 points), from Dominican Republic, was named Top International Angler. Team Ecuador won Top International Team with 1,800 points with team members Jimmy Adum, Jose “Bejuco” Jimenez del Valle and Carlos Luis Rodriguez.
Finally, Puerto Rico’s Stephanie Lebrón, fishing aboard Tati Way, successfully defended her Top Lady Angler title for three years in a row. Lebrón released two blue marlin for 650 points. A total of four lady anglers fished this year’s IBT.
There’s a chance to live again all the fun and fantastic fishing of this Diamond Jubilee. The World Fishing Network (WFN), a recreational fishing TV station based in Canada, filmed different programs during the event. Mariko Izumi, a TV fishing personality, fished the Tournament and filmed parts of the ‘Nick and Mariko Adventures’ and ‘World Fishing Journal’ productions, as part of a sponsorship granted by digital TV company Liberty.
Bill Boyce, TV fishing producer and angler, also filmed the 60th edition for WFN with a sponsorship from Mojo. Both Izumi and Boyce received a support from the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, and United/Copa airlines. WFN has an estimated audience of 20 million households in North America.
The IBT is the longest consecutively held big game fishing tournament in the world and attracts anglers from all over the world to fish in marlin alley, a natural geological trench about a mile and a half off the North coast of San Juan. This well-orchestrated fishing competition boasts nightly parties, a spectacular boat parade, special Ladies Program, a Shoot-Out start past the famous El Morro Castle, and a tournament finale Gala Awards Banquet where over 30 prizes are presented. The IBT also boasts a strong conservation ethic that promotes marlin release and this year a National Geographic’s scientist deployed NG’s Crittercams for the second year to keep learning more about the magnificent marlin.
“Expect the tradition to continue next year,” invites Donato.
For full results, exciting videos, photos, Facebook links and Twitter feeds, visit www.sanjuaninternational.com.