Fishing remained surprisingly steady for the three days of the 18th annual Los Cabos Billfish Tournament in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where the competition concluded with anglers receiving a slight uptick in action on the final day. The 37-boat fleet released 95 video-verified billfish: 56 blue marlin, 36 striped marlin and three black marlin.
In the end, team Pangalisa reeled in first place from its 31-foot Edgewater, thanks to a 378-pound black marlin caught by John Domanic on the second day. Team members Alfredo Castillo, Phillip Davis, Domanic and Mike Hennessy joined Capt. Gonzalo Castillo in winning $84,650 and earning an invitation to the 2017 Offshore World Championship, which begins April 24 in Quepos, Costa Rica.
Last year’s Los Cabos Billfish Tournament winner, Reel Energy, came in a close second with a 370-pound blue caught by Brian Walley on the first day. The team also lost a much bigger fish later that same day when they pulled the hook just 80-feet from the boat after a three-hour fight. Anglers Steve Hewitt, Brian and Tawny Walley, Luis Zumaeta and Capt. Horace Barge took home a $58,400 check.
In an exciting twist, Chupacabra combined a third-place overall finish with an “all-in” entry to take home the largest share of the winnings. While the other two teams landing qualifying marlin were only in the Level I and Level II daily categories, angler Blake Stampler’s 321-pound blue marlin — caught during the last two hours of the final day — earned the rolled-over Level III and Level IV dailies from day one and day two, all four dailies for day three, and the Winner Takes All Jackpot for $226,050.
Fishing on Chupacabra were Jason Douglas, Bo Jenyns, Don Logue, Blake Stampler, Don Stamper and Capt. Clay Hensley.
With so many blues and striped marlin being released, the race for the top release boat prize was tight. Sea Angel took an early lead on day one, when the team released four blue marlin to clinch the Day One Daily prize of $8,700. Sea Angel‘s heartbreak occurred day three, when angler Austin Angel hooked a 500-plus pound marlin at 9:20 a.m. and fought the fish until 3:55 p.m. before pulling the hooks. Sea Angel wound up in fourth place in the Overall Release category. The Sea Angel team includes Capt., B.C. Angel, Austin, Chance and Greg Angel, Juan Carlos, Federico Ortega and Nolan Ruaunswinter.
Sol Pursuit eventually emerged from the pack as the winner in the Overall Release category. The team released seven blues and one striped marlin, earing 3,600 points and a $17,500 check when adding in their $8,700 in winnings from taking the Day Two Release Daily prize. Sol Pursuit is made up of anglers Clay and Greg Denk, Eric Linthicum and Gary Linthicum, Chris and Mike Watts and Capt. Stephen Downsworth.
Expedition, with Capt. Wilks Hammock, had a fantastic tournament and cruised to a second-place finish in the Overall Release Category. The team scored 3,000 points from five blue and five striped marlin and beat third-place Reel Quest on time.
See the top finishers in each category below.
First Place: Pangalisa
Second Place: Reel Energy
Third Place: Chupacabra
First Place: Sol Pursuit
Second Place: Expedition
Third Place: Reel Quest
Fourth Place: Sea Angel
Billfish Daily Jackpot
Day One: Sea Angel
Day Two: Sol Pursuit
Day Three: Reel Quest
Wahoo Daily Jackpot
Day One: Santi I
Day Two: Oh So Rojo
Day Three: Reel Gold
Tuna Daily Jackpot
Day One: Reel Quest
Day Two: Feeling Azul
Day Three: Rocky Mountain Hooker
Dorado Daily Jackpot
No qualifying dorado were weighed during the event. Prize money for this category was split among the six winners of the tuna and wahoo dailies.
Capt. Gonzalo Castillo, Pangalisa